IT has been confirmed that Darwin and Australian basketball great Michael AhMat will be inducted into Basketball Australia’s Hall Of Fame later this month.
The August 18 induction dinner in Melbourne follows a two-year battle by his close friend and former South Adelaide team-mate Joe Clarke to get AhMat’s playing record recognised.
“He was Australia’s Magic Johnson. He was probably 20 or 30 years ahead of his time,” Clarke told the NT News last night. “And he was my brother, my soul brother, who was the best basketballer I have ever seen.”
Clarke, 60, grew up with AhMat through the 1950s in Darwin and joined him at the South Adelaide club in 1962 as a 14-year-old. The first Aborigine to represent Australia at the Olympics (1964 in Tokyo), AhMat backed up in Mexico in 1968 and also represented Australia in Tests against New Zealand.
He represented the NT only once at a national championship, wearing the SA colours on 10 occasions.
Clarke played with AhMat at South Adelaide and in SA rep sides. “The saying coast-to-coast (taking the ball from defence to offence) came about when Magic Johnson was doing it in the 1990s,” Clarke said.
“Michael was doing that in the 1960s when he was grabbing rebounds and taking the ball past five opposition players and either scoring or setting up a basket.
“He’d create a fast break and his passing was phenomenal. If he felt like shooting he’d fire one in, it was great to watch him.” “He was certainly the best player in the Australian team in the 1960s & played nearly 600 games (588) for South Adelaide.”
AhMat died in 1983 aged just 40, but he will always be remembered as a groundbreaker for Territory basketballers in international and national competition.
While working in Whyalla in the early 70’s Michael Ahmatt played for Magpies. Helping them to a premiership at that time.