He has an important game to win, but Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod believes tonight’s history-maker for the Hawks should be celebrated by the whole town.
The Hawks will become the first NBL club to play 1000 games when they host Townsville at WIN Entertainment Centre.
A brilliant point guard in his playing days, McLeod was there when it all started back in 1979, suiting up for the Hawks first game.
The Hawks have chalked up 998 games since that day and are the NBL’s last remaining original club.
‘‘It’s a time to reflect and enjoy the journey to where we are today,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘Milestones like these always bring up memories of the journey, and with that goes the appreciation of being where we are today.
‘‘This is recognition for the region and the people behind the scenes who really worked their tails off.
‘‘Without the community and without the passion and commitment of those people, we don’t have it.’’
Retired Hawks legend Mat Campbell played his entire 17-year career with the club. His pride and loyalty haven’t waned a bit.
‘‘The fact we’re the only foundation club, and then to reach 1000 games, it’s something special,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘In the ever-evolving landscape which is professional sport, it is very hard to maintain a sporting organisation in one spot and make it viable.
‘‘It’s an indication of how strong our sporting community is in the Illawarra, and how we’ve been resilient enough to last this long.’’
Fellow Hawks icon Glen Saville also has strong feelings for the club where he spent 18 of his 19 seasons.
‘‘I’m very proud of my history with the club, especially to be personally part of more than half those games,’’ he said.
‘‘Basketball’s gone through some pretty tough times, and for our club to outlast all those other teams and withstand everything its gone through, it’s pretty amazing.’’
Victory in their milestone game would be fitting for the Hawks.
But the Crocodiles aren’t about to play dead.
‘‘When you look at their roster, they’ve got a lot of experienced players at the peak of their careers and they’ve got some good young players, so they’re in a good position and they’re coming together very well,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘The challenges they bring is that they’ve got a lot of versatility about their team. They’ve got mobility and size, their imports are very good. They bring different challenges to the teams we played in the first two games.’’
McLeod has started Tyson Demos and Rotnei Clarke in the guard spots in the first two games but hasn’t ruled out a change.
‘‘There’s been some discussion about that. We’ll finalise it [today].’’
Tip-off is at 7.30 and tickets are still available.