One of WA basketball’s favourite sons has committed to another season in the black and orange of the Rockingham Flames for the 2020 State Basketball League season.
Four-time NBL champion Greg Hire will step out for his third season on the hardwood of the Mike Barnett Sports Complex with his sights firmly set on a bringing a first men’s SBL title to the club he credits with rekindling his love for the game.
“Two years ago I spoke about it being an interesting time in my career where I sort of fell out of love with the game,” he said.
“I was sort of at a crossroads with where I was going with my career and we also didn’t win the (NBL) championship.
“Playing for the Flames I generated a lot of momentum to go into that next NBL season. I maybe wasn’t passionate – maybe reinvigorated and reiinspired – and just felt really good heading into that NBL season, and that clearly came from the Flames.”
There’s “plenty of unfinished business” to complete for Hire, and while the team may have taken a step backward results-wise in 2019, all the pieces were in place to get the club to where it wants to be, which made re-signing with the Flames an easy decision.
“We had some really good things in place in terms of where we were trying to get to which definitely made it an easy decision to come back and try to finish what we started two seasons ago,” he said.
“We had the pieces but not the consistency (in 2019). Every place I’ve played, every season I’ve played, whether at the Wildcats or in the SBL, you’ve got to have luck and for us injuries at the most critical time of the year really hurt us.
“Brad Robbins was playing what I thought was his best game of the season and then tore his Achilles; Josh Ritchart was really finding some form and bang! A calf muscles injury; in the fourth quarter of a final against Perry Lakes I go down with an ankle injury. Unfortunately that was the story we had.
“I don’t want to put all the blame on injuries but it was an issue throughout the season, just trying to have healthy bodies and we couldn’t gain any momentum that way. We played some really good basketball when we had our full line up and it would’ve been interesting to see how we went with a full line up all season. But that’s basketball.”
The Flames 2019 men’s MVP doesn’t want his legacy in Rockingham to hinge just on the team’s successes, and Hire said his connection with teammates, former Flames’ players and the community were equally as important as on-court results.
“I think one of the most disheartening things two years ago in that Perry Lakes change room was seeing club stalwarts like Jarryd Griffin, Ryan Godfrey and even Luke Travers – guys who have played for the club for so long – to see how close we were to getting there and their reactions. It was quite humbling,” Hire said.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play 10 years in the NBL, but you can forget the reason why you start playing basketball – that brotherhood and that family sort of feel. And that’s what Rockingham does.
“There’s no doubt for me it’s about getting a championship for your Jars (Griffin) and his family, and for Boof (Godfrey), and even more so guys like Travis Moore and the other guys that are still around the club.
“The success of the women’s team was magnificent… seeing what they were able to achieve, in a way, makes you jealous because you want to replicate that and have the same joy and it would be great if we could simulate the same success.
“I’m fortunate enough to have won an NBL championship and an SBL championship but I think it would be a really cool thing to be able to get it done and win a championship in Rockingham and know I was able to play a part in that. For me it’ll mean more than just winning a championship because I also want to have an impact on the club and the community.”