For their significant service to basketball, icons involved in the sport around Australia have been acknowledged in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday honours.
The awards have been handed out in Australia since 1975 and this year, Luc Longley, Bruce Spangler and Ricky Grace were honoured as Members (AM) in the General Division while Lorraine Crawford (Albury, NSW) and Gregory O’Neill (East Melbourne) were credited with Medals (OAM) in the General Division.
MEMBER (AM) OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA
The first Australian to play in the NBA, Luc Longley attended the AIS in 1986-87 before being recruited to play for the University of New Mexico where he was named First-team All-Western Athletic Conference in 1990 and 1991.
Following his final year at college, Longley was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves and two seasons later, drafted to the Chicago Bulls.
There, he was a part of arguably the NBA’s greatest dynasty as he became the first Australian to win an NBA Championship before going on to win three consecutive titles alongside Michael Jordan.
A dedicated representative of his country, Longley made his debut in the green and gold for the Under-19 Emus when he was just 16 years of age and went on to play for the Boomers at the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a 19-year old.
Becoming a key piece of the Australian front court, Longley represented the Boomers at the 1990 FIBA World Championships as well as the 1992 and 2000 Olympics.
He remains closely linked with the national team as an assistant coach as they gear up for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Beginning his love affair with basketball in primary school, Bruce Spangler won the Under-16 Championships in 1967 with South Australia but it is an administrative role where he has truly left his mark on the sport.
Spangler has served as President of the South Australia Church Basketball Association and as Chair of Basketball SA while also being a member of the NBL and Basketball Australia boards.
Over three years with Basketball Australia, Spangler contributed to the review and redevelopment of the NBL while also stewarding the Finance Audit and Risk Committee of Basketball Australia.
Recently, Spangler has played a major role in consolidating a consortium to take over ownership of Chemist Warehouse WNBL club, the MAC Adelaide Lightning.
A naturalised Australian, Ricky Grace was also honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to the Indigenous community of Western Australia.
Grace was a four-time NBL Champion, two-time NBL Grand Final MVP and an Australian Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in 2010.
He came to the Perth Wildcats in 1990 where he spent his entire professional playing career after being selected in the 1988 NBA Draft.
With the Wildcats, Grace played an integral part in six Grand Final appearances and he captained the club from 2002-05 before finishing his career as the club’s leader in games, points, assists and steals.
He also represented the Boomers at the 2000 Olympics and helped them to a fourth-placed finish.
Since retirement, Grace has been the director for the Role Models WA organisation which offers sport and development programs for indigenous communities in the state.