Written for NBL.com.au by Chris Pike
Adam Gibson is breaking through the 400-game mark in the NBL and with his body and form holding up, he sees no reason 500 can’t be in his sights and he hopes it continues to be with a Brisbane Bullets team he sees great potential in this season and beyond.
Gibson notches 400 games this Saturday when he leads his fourth placed Bullets against the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena.
It’s a journey that has no end in sight either for the 32-year-old who has put together a storied career that included early championship success at the Bullets and South Dragons, a Defensive Player of the Year honour and on top of it all a regular Boomers representative and London Olympian.
While it’s a milestone to celebrate for Gibson this Saturday as he becomes just the second current player to reach 400, the other being his teammate Mika Vukona, what makes him happier is the fact that he’s bursting through the milestone.
Gibson is playing a key role in the resurgent Bullets form this season forming an impressive backcourt alongside Jason Cadee, Cam Gliddon and Jeremy Kendle, who recently replaced Stephen Holt.
It’s the fact that his body is holding up well and he is playing a key role on a team trying to announce themselves as a championship threat that is what he’s most please about ahead of the milestone occasion.
“I don’t know how many people have played 400 before and how they’ve got there, but obviously it does help that I’m playing a fairly big role in the team and I feel like I’ve got plenty of years left,” Gibson said.
“That does make it a lot better than sitting on the end of the bench maybe playing a minute or two here and there.
“I do feel good body-wise and all that so hopefully I have a few more years left and I can push for that 500 even. I’m glad I’m able to still have a big impact in games and come in and provide that energy and defence, and whatever the team needs.”
Gibson began his NBL career in Brisbane back in the 2005/06 season and was part of the 2007 championship before joining the South Dragons once the Bullets folded, winning another title as starting point guard in 2009 when he was also named the league’s Best Defensive Player.
The story of Gibson then became club’s folding around him, having already left the Bullets for the Dragons, once they were no more he moved onto the Gold Coast Blaze. They were contenders in two of those three seasons but again when they ceased to exist, Gibson was again on the move.
Life took him to Adelaide where he would spend four years, become captain and lead them to a Grand Final Series before for the first time in his career, he made a decision on his future himself and wanted to be part of the Bullets return to the NBL.
Gibson signed a three-year deal with Brisbane and now is in the final season of that deal. He’d love nothing more than to finish his career with the Bullets beyond this season as well.
“Obviously this is the last of my three-year contract so it’s a contract year coming up, but I would for sure love to finish out playing-wise here in Brisbane,” he said.
“I’d then love to stay involved in the game as a coach or whatever, and I’m trying to put some things together to prepare for that, but Brisbane is definitely home for us now and hopefully if all goes well at the end of the season I can re-sign for however many years and finish out here.”
While Gibson is rightfully proud to reach the 400-game milestone this Saturday, it pales into insignificance in comparison to how much he wants his Bullets to score a statement win in Sydney and to be real contenders for this season’s title after consecutive wooden spoons.
It’s a massive game against Sydney in Sydney with their star-studded roster. We want to solidify ourselves as a contender for finals and beating Sydney in Sydney would make a big statement.
“I don’t think it will be too different. Obviously there might be a video here and there and some messages or whatever, but what’s more important is that it’s a massive game for us as a club,” Gibson said.
“Obviously we haven’t played Sydney yet and they are on a pretty big roll so for us to make a stand this season these are the games that we need to perform well.
“I think once the game starts it will be normal and that’s how we want to keep it leading in. there might be a little more excitement around it for myself but as the team is concerned it’s just another day at the office.”
Gibson is of no doubt that this Bullets team is capable of doing something special this season and it’s their willingness and ability to play as a cohesive, unselfish unit that he sees as the key to any success they will have.
“I think we’ve got the right pieces now and the guys we’ve brought in this year had either played in the national team or with Dre before,” he said.
“One good thing is that everyone knows the offensive and defensive systems so well, and I think our biggest win has been that we don’t care who has a big game on any given night. Gliddon might go for 30 one night and two the next but he’s still the first one up cheering for Cadee or whoever is doing the scoring.
“That’s the best thing about this team and we might not have always had that the last couple of seasons. But now that’s what is going to make us so hard to guard moving forward because you can’t really lock in on one person like a Casper Ware.
“You have to put a lot of time into everyone because we share the ball, we’re unselfish and we do stuff for our teammates. That’s the beauty of our team this season and I think that’s why we can be successful.”
Ever the ultimate team man, Gibson doesn’t want any undue focus on him this week even if 400 is a special and rare milestone for an NBL player to reach.
But given he’s hitting the mark in good form and healthy, he is confident and hopeful there’ll be more milestones to come for his family and friends to celebrate.
“It doesn’t really feel like it to be honest but I think once it’s all finished it will be something to look back on. But it hasn’t really set in yet I don’t think,” Gibson said.
“To be honest we didn’t really realise until a few days ago it was coming up and with Christmas and everything, there’s quite a few distractions going on. But hopefully I have 450 and 500 to come that I can get some family along to and they can watch those games.
“It’s probably something that once you retire you look back and it’s all kind of come along pretty quickly the last couple of days.
“I haven’t had much time to reflect but it’s all the people that have helped me get there that are the ones that count the most when you reach these milestones. The sacrifices they’ve made have helped me get out there and run around 400 times.”
Gibson will join his teammate Mika Vukona as the only two 400-game current day NBL players on Saturday and they have shared quite the journey together.
The shared a championship at the South Dragons, were Gold Coast teammates and have been part of teams that have gone to wear in some tantalising battles since.
But when Anthony Petrie retired at the end of last season, Gibson knew that the best possible replacement for the Bullets would be Vukona.
He might have appeared set to end his career at the Breakers, but it wasn’t to be and Gibson couldn’t be happier to be teammates with him again instead of having to go up against him.
“You look at someone like him and he’s an awesome role model for everyone all around the club. You look at what he’s gone through and still goes through day to day playing through injuries and all that kind of stuff is pretty special. To be alongside people like him is a pretty big honour I think,” Gibson said.
“I got to play with him for a couple of years with Dragons and then at Gold Coast, and he is by far in the top five best teammates to have playing-wise. As a point guard you always have that close relationship with your four man and I’ve had that with Peach (Petrie), Dillon Boucher and Mika over my career.
“They are so smart and just awesome to play with, and we’re good mates as well so Mika was the perfect replacement for Peach this season. He’s obviously older now than when I played with him earlier in my career but he makes the job so much easier when you’re out there with him.”