Basketball veteran calls time on stellar career
WHEN Barry Maluga produced what he describes as a horrible performance at the end of last season's basketball competition, he knew he had to go around one more time.
Lucky the 56-year-old did, because last weekend Maluga was able to win one last championship to cap off a 39-year career.
Dating back to July of 1975, Maluga's career is remarkable and includes numerous championships, impressive statistics and a magnificent run largely injury-free.
"I have lost count of championships. We were undefeated for 12 seasons or six years once," he said.
"I have only missed four games in 39 years through injury, a week for a rolled ankle, a week for a broken nose and two weeks with a groin tear."
The record Maluga has been able to achieve has him at legend status around Gladstone basketball circles.
Maluga played his entire career in Gladstone, coached for close to three decades, began the junior program along with Rick Hansen and Kev Broome and was deservedly awarded a life membership, the third in the association after Hansen and Broome.
Finding it hard to narrow down one moment in all his playing days, Maluga did recall a big win as something he will remember forever.
"As far as highlights go, being part of the first team to win the Wide Bay Capricorn league was up there," he said.
"The wonderful people involved who I played with, against, referees and officials and committees, it is just a great sport to be involved in."
Although Maluga may be calling time on playing, his involvement with basketball does not end.
He will still be found on the sideline of the Port City Power matches in the Queensland Basketball League slowly losing his voice with enthusiastic encouragement.
"I will always be involved in basketball, I live for those Power teams," he said.
Maluga also ruled out a comeback, saying white line fever would not strike him even after nearly four decades.
"No definitely no comebacks, 39 years is a good run," he said with a laugh.
"It was good to go out on a winning note. It is what dreams are made of."
Maluga's basketball career:
- 39 years
- Began July 1975
- Over 10,000 points
- Over 7,000 rebounds
- Life member of Gladstone basketball