There was barely a dry eye in the house when an emotional Glen Saville added the closing chapter to his superb basketball career today.
Facing a large media throng at Wollongong Hawks headquarters, Saville fought a losing battle with tears throughout his seven-minute retirement announcement.
The 37-year-old Hawks icon played 563 games over 19 NBL seasons and represented Australia at two Olympics.
This season was always going to be his final fling, but a knee injury forced him out earlier than he planned.
‘‘Early in the year I’d made my mind up this would be my last season. Unfortunately the knee injury has brought forward my retirement,’’ Saville said through sobs.
‘‘[On Wednesday] I met with a specialist and was informed in no uncertain terms my season was over. It was then that I knew my career was over.
‘‘It wasn’t the way I wanted my career to finish but this is the situation I’ve been dealt.
‘‘I still felt I was competing at a high level and playing good basketball.
‘‘The team has gone through a battlefield with injuries this year but I know the guys will be giving it their all to finish the season strongly. It saddens me to know that I cannot persist.’’
Saville will undergo surgery next Friday.
He was initially hoping the injury would be minor but scans confirmed his worst fears.
‘‘I was hoping the doc would say he’d do an athroscope and clean it up and I’ll be back in four weeks, though I had prepared myself for the worst,’’ he said.
‘‘He put the first slide and said it wasn’t good. He told my season’s over and I knew then my career was over. It was a very difficult moment.
‘‘Given that I’ve been through this kind of rehab before with my other knee, I wasn’t prepared to go into another season worrying whether or not I could make it through without having to deal with another injury.’’
His playing days are over but the 2001 finals MVP will continue to be part of the team until the end of the season.
A near sell-out crowd is expected to provide Saville with a fitting sendoff when the Hawks play their final home game against Adelaide on March 23.
‘‘I won’t be going anywhere this season,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ll remain with the team and begin my recovery process with the support staff after surgery. I’m still going to be around the boys and maybe even still make a road trip or two. I can still yell out at them from the sideline.
‘‘I hope I can provide guidance and support for the team as they push for a finals berth.’’
Saville holds the Hawks record for most games, points, field goals, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
He is one of four players to have his jersey retired by the club.
See Friday's Mercury for full coverage of Saville's retirement announcement.