Countless times over the past month, Phil Driscoll has picked up a pen and gone in search of the right words. He's come up empty every time.
Truth is he'll probably never find them. He's as lost for words today as he was the moment the Illawarra Hawks unveiled the banner naming the game-day locker room in his honour.
A month on, and perhaps the club's greatest servant - on and off the floor - is still speechless when asked about the 'Phil Driscoll Locker Room'.
"I couldn't talk. I still can't, it still chokes me up," Driscoll told the Mercury.
"I've tried several times to write an open letter to the Hawks to thank everybody for it and I can't, I can't complete it. I just don't know how to explain it.
"It was so left field. I still haven't seen it coming. They took me in there and handed me a pair of boots and I thought 'why would you pull everybody off the court and bring them in here in the middle of training to give me a pair of boots?'
"I'm not that sort of person, you don't need to make big song and dance out of everything. lo and behold they rolled that mat out. Once they rolled the mat out, I lost it. It stunned me. Still does."
It was recognition of a dedication to basketball in the Illawarra that predates the Hawks as an NBL franchise. Beginning in sports science, Driscoll's role has shape-shifted in the several decades that followed.
The only thing the various hats he's worn have in common is the fact he's never accepted a cent for wearing any of them.
Today his is an all-encompassing role that defies description, though the longest tenured current Hawk Dan Grida does his best.
"He's like a Grandpa to all of us," Grida said.
"He's been at the club the whole time, since day one, so he's obviously been here since I got here six years ago. He's always there for you, he does absolutely everything around here.
"To name the sheds after him is huge. It was pretty emotional for me because I love Phil, he's been there for me for years, through all my injuries, girl problems, whatever it is.
"It got to a point one year when I wasn't playing at all with one of my knee injuries where I couldn't even watch practice. I just couldn't bring myself to do it, so I'd just sit in the sheds with Phil for hours.
"We've talked all about Egypt, everywhere he's travelled. I know his whole life story. I know everything about him, and he knows everything about me, so we have a really special bond. I'll cherish that forever.
"You've got the [retired] jerseys up in the rafters with 500 games for Soup (Mat Campbell) and Sav (Glen Saville), Phil's would have thousands of games through the whole history of the Hawks.
"It's awesome he's been recognised with something permanent and his name will live on there forever."
While Driscoll puts his longevity down to doing things "no one else wants to do" sharp-shooter Todd Blanchfield has a different view.
A veteran of five NBL franchises, Blanchfield returned to Wollongong for a second stint with the Hawks season. When he walked back into the Snakepit, Driscoll was the only one still there from the day he first did so back in 2018.
"I still remember the very first time I met Phil," Blanchfield recalls.
"He hasn't changed. He's so upbeat, he goes out of his way to give you a hug more than shake your hand. I've been around a few different clubs now and I think having a guy like Phil is what separates Illawarra from the rest of the league.
"Someone like Phil's been around for so long and expects absolutely nothing in return. He just comes in every day, giving up his time to be here to make sure everybody else is OK. It's irreplaceable."
It's arguable that no professional sporting franchise has endured the roller coaster existence that is the Hawks history. Having been involved "since day dot" Driscoll says it's the personal relationships that he most treasures.
"Sports science will take you so far, but there's a a human element you've got to put on top of it," Driscoll says.
"Grida and Sam (Froling), there's a few others over the time that have had really debilitating injuries. Grida was in a very bad place, but he came through it. We spent hours and hours just talking about holidays, we talked about surfing, we talked anything but basketball.
"That's what I do, I take them right away from what's going on around them. J-Rob (Justin Robinson), I didn't honestly think he'd be back this year. I thought he was a done duck.
"He proved different, but there's a disconnect from the group because the group's training, you get out there and do other stuff with them, talk about other things.
"You'll get imports who come here, they haven't got family, they haven't got people around them, their wives or their partners, kids are left back in America.
"They really need somebody to sort of just guide them through, help them with the little things. That's what it's all about as far as I'm concerned, just looking after each other."
Those tables have turned recently, with people noticing a key piece of furniture missing from the club's game-day warm-ups as Driscoll battles health issues he laconically describes as "a bit of a bugger."
Coach Jacob Jackomas said the absence has been conspicuous for him as the first head coach in the club's history to any long stretch without Phil on deck.
"He's unbelievable human being, he's obviously missed right now," Jackomas said.
"We always talk about 'who's the next jersey retired?' and that's really important. All our jersey retirement guys, all are active with us. I've spoken to Gordie, obviously Mat's here, Glen's a great friend.
"Chuck's been a great support to me, Melvin (Thomas) has been around as well. There's obviously been some greats since then, Tim Coenraad's one of them.
"Then I looked at Phil and I thought 'well, you can't put his name up in the rafters, but we can celebrate a little bit of Illawarra history and something that's part of us'. When a new guy comes in, they'll see it and they'll ask 'who's Phil Driscoll?'
"We aren't able to have him with us day to day right now, but we get to see his name every day on the floor and I'm glad the guys that walk through the door will ask who he is and we get to explain that."
For his part, Driscoll doesn't want a bar of the rafters.
"I'd rather have the locker room than have my name up in the rafters. That's my domain," Driscoll said.
"My domain's not on the basketball court, my domain is looking after the guys and getting all the crap done to get them out there. I want to be back doing what I do, and I will be, but I can't say enough good things about the Hawks.
"I've had people ring me all the time to see how I'm going, and that keeps me connected. When we look after someone, we really look after them."
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