Flavell's basketball journey

April 7, 2017

 

As a kid in Whangarei at Kamo High School Judd Flavell dreamed of one day playing in the world's premier basketball league, the NBA.

 

It is a dream which plays out in most young basketballers minds as they line up a shot at the hoop attached to the garage at the family home.

 

Like many basketballers, for Flavell, that dream remained just that. The bright lights of NBA didn't arrive.

 

However, he recalls September 3, 2002 fondly as the day he was provided with the next best thing than playing in the NBA.


Southland Sharks coach Judd Flavell talks to players during a time out in a National Basketball contest.

 

Flavell was part of the Tall Blacks' 2002 World Championships squad which put the sport of basketball in lights in New Zealand.

 

They finished fourth and toppled the likes Russia, Venezuela, China and Puerto Rico.

 

In the process names like Flavell, Paul Henare, Pero Cameron, Sean Marks, and Phil Jones emerged as New Zealand basketball heros.

 

While much of the hype obviously centred on the games they won, the 110-62 loss to the United States is a fixture Flavell and his team mates treasured.

 

"It was going back to your childhood dreams of playing in the NBA. I didn't get to do that, but to line up against those boys and seeing the likes of Reggie Miller out there, guys you've seen on TV and admired, is the next best thing. 

 

"It was like being a kid really the first time you go to a theme park or something, you've got so many things to look at and so much excitement."

 

Flavell recalls coach Tab Baldwin didn't talk about results before the game, his message was for the players to just worry about contesting every single possession.

 

It is something which still sounds loudly with Flavell as he now carves out his own coaching career.

 

For the record, Flavell finished the game against the USA with sevens points, including one from one from three-point land.

 

Flavell's basketball love started as a nine-year-old, like many kids he followed his father into the sport.

 

After finishing at Kamo High School he shifted south to Hamilton to study and link with good mate and fellow Whangarei lad Pero Cameron.

 

As an 18-year-old in 1992, he joined the Waikato Warriors for his first season as part of the NZNBL.

 

After 297 games playing and now with his coaching duties, 25 years later Flavell is still part of the league.

 

He recalls his first season in the NBL with the Waikato Warriors fondly.

 

"It wasn't the most financed team. On road trips, there were 10 guys in an eight-seater van and we did a lot of driving. But it was good humble beginnings," he said.

 

"We had a squad of about 15 guys and I would have been the 15th man. We had that many players I couldn't suit up in the 12. For the first few games, I was actually taking the stats on the bench for the coach Murray McMahon, who was a long-time servant of basketball in this country."

 

Given his NBL days started out taking stats as a teenager on the bench, maybe it was a pointer towards where he would end up.

 

After a lengthy playing career, 11 years later he linked with the Breakers to join their development programme as a coach.

 

He has coached the Junior Tall Blacks, has been an assistant coach with the Tall Blacks, and in 2012 coached the Auckland Pirates to win an NBL title.

 

He is currently an assistant coach with the Breakers and is in his second season with the Southland Sharks as their head coach.

It takes some juggling for the father of two to manage everything.

 

"In my mind I felt like [coaching was] the natural progression. I'm passionate about hoops and you can't get out there and play it forever, but you certainly want to contribute in other ways.

 

"And it is something that has kept me from getting a real job at this point of time," he joked.

 

"Even if I wasn't getting paid to do coaching, I would have found my way into it."

 

He believes the role with the Southland Sharks is a good way for him to develop as a head coach.

 

"Here I am in Invercargill and I'm loving the environment here and the opportunity it has given me to grow as a person and as a head coach.

 

"Nothing can prepare you for being a head coach than by being put in those shoes. This is a great environment to dip my toes into it down here. I'm loving every minute of it."

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SHARKS HQ

Southland Sharks Office

ILT Stadium Southland

Surrey Park Road

Invercargill 9010

Phone: (03) 211 2254

 

General Manager

Jill Bolger

027 315 4769

jill@basketballsouthland.co.nz 

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