Perry talks hoops, coaching and the Alabama Slammer

Darren Perry played 252 games and won two championships during a 10-year National Basketball League career that saw him make stops with Brisbane Bullets, Eastside Melbourne Spectres, South East Melbourne Magic, Hobart Devils and Wollongong Hawks.

He played for some of the most celebrated coaches in NBL history, including current Australian national team coach Brian Goorjian and Brisbane legend Brian Kerle, and ran the floor with and against some of the league’s all-time greats – among them Perth Wildcats trio James Crawford, Ricky Grace and Cal Bruton, Brisbane’s Leroy Loggins, Melbourne’s Andrew Gaze and the Magic’s Bruce Bolden.

After retiring as a player Darren turned his attention to the bench, and over the past two decades has held high-level coaching positions at a number of Melbourne-based associations, coached Victorian state teams and led the Australian Under-19 national team (2019 and 2021).

He returns to Camberwell next Monday to conduct a clinic for our Domestic and Representative coaches, with a focus on Individual Offensive and Defensive Development. Ahead of that, we caught up with DP and spent 10 minutes looking back on his remarkable basketball journey.

TOUGHEST OPPONENT: “Ricky Grace. He was able to do what he wanted, even though you knew what he was trying to do.”

FAVOURITE TEAMMATE: “If I don’t say Bruce Bolden, he will kill me (laughing). And he probably was. He always showed up. You could always rely on him. Then my good friend Leroy Loggins could also be relied on as well!”

BEST ATHLETE SEEN IN THE NBL: “James Crawford (below). Could go vertical with power.” (Ed note: If you didn’t see JC at the peak of his powers, take some time to Google him. There’s a reason he was known as the Alabama Slammer!) Don’t have the time to Google it yourself? Check this one out:

GREATEST INFLUENCE ON MY PLAYING CAREER: “Casey Jones, one of my junior coaches at Bulleen. He was the first guy who gave me a shot and he taught me a lot about what was important as a young man.”

THE GAME I’LL NEVER FORGET: “Game 2 of the 1987 NBL Grand Final series between Brisbane and the Perth Wildcats, which we (the Bullets) won. I’ll never forget that game. In front of 12,000 at Boondall as a young man starting against Cal Bruton. I’ll never forget sitting in the changerooms afterwards. It was an awesome but a hard-to-fathom experience all at the same time.”

WHY I COACH: “It takes me back to Casey Jones at Bulleen. What I tried to do when I was at Dandenong was give as many young dudes that early start, to try to help them along, give them the experiences I got. At Bulleen (as a junior) I didn’t make a first team until I was Under-14s, but I had a guy called Ross Close who taught skills, taught concepts, taught values, taught important team stuff. And so along the way, all of those people that continued to help me understand it all, you just can’t trade those learnings. So that’s the reason I was into it. Coaching my (own) boys has been one of the great joys of my life and if you can help in some way to add to any other young players’ understanding, and to give them the chance to excel, you do it.”

The photos that feature here (Perry with the Hobart Devils and James Crawford during his time with the Wildcats) are from the pages of One on One magazine, which was published in Melbourne in the 90s.


WHO: Darren Perry

WHAT: Coaches Clinic; Individual Offensive and Defensive Development

WHERE: Canterbury Girls Secondary College, Mangarra Road, Canterbury, VIC

WHEN: Tonight – Monday, May 8; 7.30pm-9pm

COST: Free for all Domestic and Junior Representative coaches


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