ALTHOUGH he last played in the National Basketball League (NBL) almost 20 years ago, it’s obvious Cal Bruton hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm or love for the game.
His passion is clear when he talks about being on “the court”, or even as he picks up a basketball – with ease, sporting his trademark grin – “just don’t ask me to spin it on my finger at this age,” he says.
The American-born Bruton, nicknamed the “Black Pearl”, played in the NBL for almost 12 years and coached four teams, including the now-defunct Canberra Cannons. His legendary status was cemented in 1998 when he was inducted in the NBL Hall of Fame.
Bruton has continued to live in Canberra since the Cannons went into financial administration in 2003, working as a luxury car salesman for dealer Lennock.
Now he is looking to pass on some of his expert advice with a new basketball tournament in Tuggeranong, on September 29, headed by the “Black Pearl” himself.
“Bruton 2 on 2” will see four age groups from 14-and-under to 31-and-over, with men and women invited to play.
The teams of two will face off in two or more 12-minute games, (with four three-minute quarters) for the day-long tournament.
“This game will only have a 13-second shot clock – so you gotta play fast,” says Bruton.
“It’ll be exciting to watch because the players will have to keep moving. This tournament is going to be a carnival-like atmosphere – we’ll have music playing during the games, and plenty of food and drink for those watching. All you really need is a partner to play.”
The winning teams of each division will go ahead to the tournament’s national finals, and national winners will receive $10,000 or tickets to the “2013 Hype NBA tour” in America, to see and meet some of the top NBA superstars.
The tournament will also include a two-hour training camp run by Bruton, to teach the “fundamentals of the game”.
Bruton says playing two-on-two encourages a partnership rather than a team effort and he hopes to see players display his “three Cs”: competitiveness, competence and confidence.
“This concept is designed to teach teamwork, there’s been a lot of dynamic duos that have played together. There’s nothing like having a partner and going to the courts, playing together and reading off each other,” he says.
“I’ve designed this two-on-two tournament so people can learn the complete game of basketball.”
The launch of the tournament will coincide with Bruton’s 58th birthday, as well as the 30th anniversary of his Australian citizenship.
“I’ve lived in Canberra for the longest part of my life in Australia. It’s been a very special journey,” he says.
“I’m hoping to celebrate both my birthday and the anniversary with a big birthday cake after the tournament.”
“Bruton 2 on 2” will be held at the Tuggeranong basketball stadium on September 29 from 8.30am. Cost is $110 per team, or scholarships available. A percentage of profits will go towards disadvantaged or indigenous youths. For more information or to register, visit www.blackpearlbasketball.com.au.