DAVE Andersen’s return to the Illawarra two decades after his NBL debut was one of the stories of last season – and the plot thickened on Wednesday when the 39-year-old was named Hawks co-captain alongside Todd Blanchfield.
Andersen was the last player signed to the Hawks roster but was always a prized signature for coach Matt Flinn who didn’t hesitate to put the c next to the four-time Olympian’s name.
It’s just the latest honour in what’s one of the most storied careers in Australian basketball, but Andersen said it’s certainly a special one.
“It’s great, to be a captain is something you strive for as a veteran and a leader on teams and having been around the game so long,” he said.
“I’m going to draw on my experience and my leadership, help Flinny out and having Toddy as co-captain eases the burden.
“It comes pretty naturally, I like to lead by example more than words because I’m a firm believer that actions speak louder than words.
“Obviously it pushes me to be a bit more vocal at training, a bit more vocal in other areas and try and help the Hawks as a club be heard a bit more throughout Australia.”
It continues a career that looked at a crossroad when he parted ways with Melbourne United two seasons ago.
Fully fit again, the 39-year-old was one of the Hawks best last season and, while he was always hopeful of returning, it was not fait accompli.
“The season before I hurt myself in the finals and got pushed out of the role in Melbourne and that affected me a bit,” Andersen said.
“Everyone obviously looks at your age but the body felt really good throughout the year, I proved to myself that I could still do it and really enjoyed being around the guys.
“There were times I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be back. When we signed Booney [Josh Boone] I wasn’t sure and things went a bit quiet but things just panned out the way they did.
“It was one of those thing, you wait for your chances and seize your opportunities. As soon as they signed Aaron [Brooks] Flinny was straight on the phone to me and I’m really glad to be back.”
It will take him into his 22nd season as a professional player which remains a major source of pride for a man universally acknowledged as the ultimate pro.
“My biggest goal and one of the big reasons for coming back, was to become the longest-serving Australian professional basketballer,” he said.
“I’ve always prided myself on looking after myself as a pro and a player and to be the longest-serving professional is a great thing for me.
“I think I’ve been right there with Andrew Gaze and Tony Ronaldson and guys like that, hopefully this season puts me over the top.”
That decorated career throughout the world has seen him collect championships the way others collect stamps and he’s confident the Hawks can put him within reach of his next one.
“There’s a lot of talent here but in saying that you’ve got to wait until the lights come on and everything falls into place,” he said.
“We haven’t been tested yet, that will come in the next few weeks, but all indicators are this a really good group, Flinny’s got us clicking and competing.
“We’ve been getting after it at training and the guys have been fighting and testing each other. The indicators are there but I never get too far ahead of myself so for now we’ll just keep things ticking along.”