It's not bad to end a sporting career with a trophy named in your honour and your face on a sports drink bottle. That's how it is for Gloucester native, Damian Martin as he farewells the National Basketball League (NBL).
"At 35 I'm lucky to have as long a career as I've had," Damian said.
He was enjoying a celebratory lunch in Perth with some mates on Wednesday (July 22) after a whirlwind 24 hours following the official retirement announcement at 11am Australian Western Standard Time on Tuesday (July 21).
His decision to retire has come a little sooner than expected after he tore his Achilles tendon during round four of the season-proper. The injury happened when the team was playing on the road. He played the next three games in a great deal of pain.
"I had an MRI and when I took it to the doctor he said, 'well I guess this is your career ending injury'," Damian recalled. "I was lucky enough to have a supportive team who let me continue to play before having the surgery, and be able to go out on my own terms."
Deciding to put off the surgery meant he could see out the remainder of the season. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the season didn't go to the grand finals and in March his team, Perth Wildcats, was declared the champions.
So he went out with a win, albeit an unusual one. But he knows how fortunate he is to have lasted so long in professional sport.
"I'm the oldest player on the team. You can clearly tell who's in charge of the music during training. If it's Cold Chisel or Pearl Jam, then it's me. If it's someone I've never heard of, then it's one of the young ones," Damian said.
A few hours after Damian shared his news, the NBL announced it was naming its defensive player trophy after the six-time winner of the award. The award will now be known as the Damian Martin Trophy for the Best Defensive Player of the regular season.
He's been with the Wildcats for 11 seasons. It's early days yet but he already knows what he's going to miss.
"When my family comes to a game, my three year old introduces herself as Maggie Martin from the Wildcats," he laughed.
Continued on page 5