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Casey calls 1000th basketball game

John casey interviewing current 36ers coach Scott Ninnis back in 2019

Silver City export John Casey moved into rare airspace on Thursday, January 10, 2024.  Casey called his 1000th game of career basketball when the Adelaide 36ers took on the Sydney Kings and delivered their second successive victory under the guidance of caretaker coach Scott Ninnis.

One of the most iconic voices in the Australian sporting landscape, Casey’s career in journalism started in 1981 as a cadet journalist for the Barrier Daily Truth before moving to the Sun News Pictorial (now the Herald Sun) in Melbourne. He then became a racing writer for The News in Adelaide before reading the weekend’s sports news with Channel 7 Adelaide where he’s currently employed.

His involvement in commentating NBL first started in 1987 and since then, Casey has been through the peaks and troughs of Australian basketball. He’s called through the NBL’s golden epoch of the 1990s to the league’s near collapse and back again.

His calling has become synonymous with the heights of international success for the Australian Boomers and the Australian Opals and all they’ve achieved on the world stage.

Having been working in the Channel 7 newsroom in Adelaide at the time the TV station secured the rights to the NBL, it was at this time he was first able to be involved in the broadcast of Australia’s top league.

“I was working in the sports department, and they wanted to get me involved so I made my way down to Apollo in 1987,” Casey recalled.

“In my first game I was hosting and doing the sideline commentary which is the same job I’m doing now 37 years later.

“I didn’t have a plan to become a sports commentator, it just came along as part of the job I was doing as a sports reporter and presenter for Channel 7. I was lucky enough to be involved in those formative years of the 1980s, which were electric.

“During the 1990s [the NBL] was massive, there were 15,000 people at those Grand Finals between the Tigers and the Magic, and it the hottest ticket in town.”

Throughout his journey Casey has worked on four Olympic Games and three World Championships coverages.

“Calling the Opals’ gold medal win – which still is the only one we’ve had at senior level – in 2006, and more recently the Boomers’ bronze medal in 2021 are great highlights,” Casey continued.

“To know your voice is going to be on those historic moments for Australian basketball is something I’m very proud of. Also, the Boomers beating the USA for the first time at Marvel Stadium in 2019 in front of 52,000 people is such a high watermark to the sport.

“Just being part of it, not so much as a commentator but to be involved is just a real privilege to be courtside and to be so close.”

When asked to select an all-time best starting NBL five during his long career of watching the game, Casey started with Leroy Loggins and Andrew Gaze, and included Mark Bradke and the Chairman of the Boards Mark Davis, suggesting the point guard would be Bryce Cotton from the Perth Wildcats.

“We had great players like Leroy Loggins – who I still think has got Bryce (Cotton) covered in terms of the greatest ever import. Leroy did it for 21 years and Bryce has been doing it for eight years.

“Leroy won a three-point shootout at an All-Stars when he was 39.”

Casey was understated about his 1000-game achievement.

“If I’ve helped grow the love of basketball for anyone that’s something I can be very proud of because I’ve had a ball doing it and I honestly feel privileged to have the position I have,” Casey concluded.

“It’s all been a lot of fun and if you can find something you enjoy doing it doesn’t become a job, it just becomes part of your life.

“To be able to do it across five decades, I really didn’t think I’d still be doing it.”

Along with his career calling the NBL, Casey also called athletics, national swimming titles, three of the four tennis majors (and is still keen to tick off the French Open), and the US PGA golf as a journalist. On the local landscape, along with his NBL career, he first started on the boundary at Football Park for Channel 7 at AFL level in the 1990s, and currently his tally of SANFL league games with the station is 226.

When you include AFL and AFL Women’s fixtures Casey cracks the 300-game footy calling milestone as well.

… one suspects there is no stopping ‘Case’ for a few years yet!

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