Brian Goorjian will forever be considered one of the greatest coaches to ever patrol the sidelines in the NBL, and the six-time Coach of the Year believes the League has never been better than it is now.
While at the NBA Summer League recruiting imports for his Shanghai Sharks in the Chinese Basketball Association, Goorjian caught up with Tommy Greer to talk about the state of basketball in Australia with the NBL at the centre of what has been a boom in recent years.
“Now I’ve been gone nine years, so a lot of time has transpired and coming back to Australia and just seeing the level of the coaching at the junior ranks, the number of kids playing, the way the Australian teams play,”
“The under-19’s, I get to see all those kids come through China and they play so hard, they’re so well coached, it’s just a credit to everybody involved in the game and let me tell you, it’s worldwide,” Goorjian explained.
“Everybody’s talking about it, and I’m really happy. I mean the pinaccle of this is the NBL, that’s why the NBL is the showcase for for all of that, and it ties the whole thing together.”
In particular, Goorjian pointed to the rejuvenation of the NBL by Executive Director Larry Kestelman pointing to the state of the League when he departed to begin coaching in China.
“I was really worried, it was in a really bad state on my way out and what Larry (Kestelman) has done for the game, everybody playing it, every coach that’s in it, everybody involved in the game should be saying a big thank you to this guy, because I don’t think it would be there without him.” he added.
Goorjian was swift to rule out an imminent return to the NBL however, following his recent appointments at both the national level and with Shanghai in the CBA. Despite this, ‘Goorj’ still calls Australia home.
“It’s never, ‘never’, I love Australia and I will always go home and I’m not ready to retire, I’ll always be involved in the game but right now I’ve put a lot of ground work into China and I’m starting to reap the benefits, coaching in Shanghai with Yao (Ming) and being involved with the national program and their development but Australia will always be home,”
In a somewhat ironic turn of events, Goorjian will be lining up against Andrej Lemanis and his Australian Boomers at the FIBA Asia Cup next month.
Goorjian was recently added to the coaching staff of the China Red Team, not to be confused with the recent China Blue Team which recently faced off against the NBL All-Australian Team as well as Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets.
“They’ve split the group into two teams, a blue team and a red team. The reason for that is they’ve got an automatic qualification to the Worlds, so we’re going to introduce more kids to the international basketball and we’re going to develop two young coaches,” Goorjian explained.
“So they’ve got two very young coaches coaching both teams and they’ve got a mentor coach underneath and that’s my role with the red team.”
Check out the full interview with Brian Goorjian below.