Andrew Gaze to coach the Sydney Kings this year

AUSTRALIAN legend Andrew Gaze will follow in his father Lindsay's famous footsteps after agreeing to make his coaching debut for the Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League this year.

And just to make sure Gaze's NBL coaching career gets off to a good start, the club handed him his first marquee signing today -- League MVP and newly naturalised Australian, Kevin Lisch who has signed a three-year deal with the Kings.

Lisch made a surprise appearance when NSW premier Mike Baird made the announcement in Sydney today,saying the city had taken yet another sporting treasure off Victoria with Gaze's appointment.

"I see it as a significant challenge with a lot of expectation but one I am really looking forward to," Gaze told Australian Regional News.

It's a dynamic appointment by the Kings because Gaze is so well respected by basketball fans across the country.

Some may see it as a calculated gamble because he has zero top level coaching experience but Gaze has remained close to the game since retiring through his commentary commitments and still knows the game and what is required to be a winner.

"I have had offers from overseas to coach but I didn't want to leave my family. This job allows me to keep my connection with the Melbourne Tigers and not have to uproot my family, I wasn't prepared to do that," he said.

Ex-basketball player Andrew Gaze, speaks with Gavin Hodgson and his daughter Jessica, 3, both of Kinglake, at Kinglake, north of Melbourne, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009. A group of Olympians visited the bushfire region to meet the locals and hand out Olympic memorabilia in the aftermath of bushfires which claimed the lives of at least 189 people.
Ex-basketball player Andrew Gaze, speaks with Gavin Hodgson and his daughter Jessica, 3, both of Kinglake, at Kinglake, north of Melbourne, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009. A group of Olympians visited the bushfire region to meet the locals and hand out Olympic memorabilia in the aftermath of bushfires which claimed the lives of at least 189 people. AAP Image - Raoul Wegat

Gaze admits he was hesitant when he was asked by the Kings new managing director and long-time friend Jeff Van Gringen to take on the coaching job in the Harbour city.

"But when Jeff told me what they were proposing, the players they hoped to sign and their vision for the Kings, it was almost too hard to say no," said Gaze.

"In the end It was my family who urged me to take the job because at my age things can pass you buy pretty quickly."

The 50 year-old five-time Olympian and two-time NBL Champion -- who once lit up courts across the world with his freakish scoring ability and three point shooting -- was preferred over several well-heeled former NBA coaches who courted the King's job.

It's a massive coup for the rebranded Kings under the new ownership of AEG Ogden who also manage their home venue Allphones Arena at Homebush and have a vested interested in the Los Angeles Lakers.

It follows the recent appointment of former Melbourne Tigers and Brisbane Bullets championship-winning Van Groningen as Managing Director.

Van Groningen breaths basketball.

His vast knowledge of the game, his extensive network of contacts stretching into the NBA combined with his ability to put together a team with the necessary chemistry to win as shown with the incredible championship-winning Bullets roster of 2006-07  underlines what he brings to a club.

The friendship and respect he has developed with Gaze through basketball was a key in the former Melbourne Tigers icon agreeing to test himself on the sidelines after previously turning down other coaching advances.

Gaze will dip his toe in waters where his father was so successful that just last year he became the first Australian ever inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the USA.

Known as The Godfather of Australian basketball, Lindsay Gaze coached the Melbourne Tigers for in 689 games in his 22 seasons before retiring in 2005.

A three-time NBL coach of the year who two-time NBL Championships also took the Australian Boomers to four consecutive Olympics in 1972-76-80-84 -- the last one teaming-up with son Andrew in Los Angeles.

Gaze said his coaching philosophy would be for his team to entertain fans and enjoy the game.

"The three point line has become a critical component and a trend of the game now not just in Australia but also we've seen it the NBA with the Golden State Warriors and what they are doing.

"It's a fun way to play."

He said he could not take any credit for the Kings recruiting American-born Lisch but added he was "happy to have him".

"I'm very happy to inherit him, he's a true superstar and off the court he will be great for the club.

"He is a real leader. He can do some many things on the floor and he plays with a very high IQ



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