Basketball On The Internet.

CLB 3x3 League

Sponsored by:

AllStar Photos

Official Photographer for the Adelaide 36ers. Specialising in Action, Team and Portrait Photography.









Advertising opportunities available.
Please contact me.

Old King Cole still a merry soul

THERE is no argument here. Ken Cole without doubt was the most controversial figure in Australian basketball from the 60s to the late 80s.

He learnt from the best of their era – including John and Les Hody – and became the best player in Australia, then its premier playing-coach and finally the top coach of his time.
His journey may have started in Sydney (and he was an Olympian with the Boomers at the 1964 Tokyo Games), but when he arrived in Melbourne – the mecca of Australian basketball – in 1966, the face of the sport changed forever.

Having already represented NSW and Tasmania at Australian Championships, Cole started his Victorian sojourn with Melbourne East Demons before joining the nation’s top team, Melbourne Church and Olympic teammate Lindsay Gaze.

But it wasn’t until Cole was recruited as playing-coach of St Kilda Saints that his notoriety reached a new level.

He took the job on the proviso the team trained every day – and we’re talking about the Sixties here – with the goal of dislodging Melbourne Church (which later evolved into the NBL’s Melbourne Tigers) as the nation’s #1 club.

Having achieved that goal, he was invited to South Australia by South Adelaide where he continued to play and coach, the highlight in 1976 when Lindsay Gaze’s 10 Victorian Olympians were invited to Apollo Stadium for a marquee game.

Years of Gaze’s Victorian-driven national teams – in 1972 the Boomers had 11 Vics, one South Aussie, in 1976 it was 10 and two (too bad if you came from any other state) – reached a head when Cole coached SA to a dramatic 87-83 victory in front of a 4,000-strong sell-out.

Cole and SA’s shooting superstar Werner Linde erroneously had been blamed for Australia’s 1968 Olympic team failing to qualify for Mexico after they had an on-court scuffle during a practice session.

FRENEMIES: Werner Linde, left and Ken Cole

The rumour was from there, their files were stamped “Never to be selected again” and that, funnily enough, is what occurred.

In truth, the 1968 team was split along state lines and completely dysfunctional, the Cole-Linde incident only highlighting bubbling tensions already close to the surface.

Linde continued to dominate Australian basketball but was ignored in 1972 and again in 1976, as was Cole. A chance for the duo to secure some form of revenge – Cole as SA coach, Linde as state captain – was too good to resist.

Treated appallingly by national selectors, the win was some form of vindication, Linde’s blistering post-match speech passing into legend.

Gaze’s attempt to respond was drowned out by slow handclapping, jeering and boos from a fired-up and particularly parochial crowd.

{To put this into some kind of modern context, imagine Suzy Batkovic and Abby Bishop leading a rival Opals combination to a win over Brendan Joyce’s Rio Olympic team in front of Suzy’s home crowd and with her then having the opportunity to speak.

MODERN DAY: Suzy & Abby, the Cole & Linde of this era?

Then Joyce gets the mike and says leaving Tess Madgen out of his ill-fated Rio lineup was his toughest pre-Games call.}

Cole toured the USA playing for the New York Nationals against the Harlem Globetrotters and all of this was part of his pre-NBL history.

In 1985, he coached the first Adelaide 36ers team to reach a grand final and after they were beaten by Brisbane Bullets for the championship, Cole and his team made a pact to be back, bigger and better than ever in 1986.

They achieved it too, going 24-2, averaging 117.3ppg through their winning spree and giving up 96.0ppg for a 21.3ppg winning average.

Their two losses were on buzzer beaters.

Cole returns to Australia from his San Diego home next month, leading the speakers at Adelaide’s Titanium Security Arena for the Free Throw Foundation’s lunch on October 21.

“Ken is Australian? You’re kidding me. He isn’t American? I never would have guessed,” Adelaide 36ers coach Joey Wright responded, genuinely shocked when first told The King was, indeed, local.

Yes. Cole is as Australian as they come and he isn’t forgetting his Victorian days either.

On Saturday, October 15, he will be the guest speaker from 12:30pm at Dandenong Basketball Stadium, 270 Stud Rd, Dandenong. The $60pp includes food and drinks. RSVP to Tracey Browning at by October 10 if you want to attend or to arrange a table of guests.

Trust this. Australia’s master basketball motivator and its most positive supporter still has much to offer.

THE 86 NBL CHAMPION: Signatures of the full squad, coaches and managers.

(For a fuller back story on Ken Cole, go to from his pre-admission to the Hall of Fame.)

Sep 8

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.