While retirement is a long way from his thoughts, Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames men’s captain and stalwart Ryan Godfrey has given a strong indication that he’d like to finish his playing career with his only club after re-signing for the next three years.
Godfrey, one of the most highly regarded people in WA basketball circles, has spent his entire junior and senior careers – minus the time he spent at college in the USA – with the Flames and believes he still has a lot to offer the club and the game before even thinking about hanging up his kicks.
“This three-year deal takes me to 33 (and) I’ve been with the Flames since my first Flames camp when I was 5,” Godfrey said.
“Playing for someone I’m sure is great but winning won’t feel the same. I wouldn’t say I’m ready to finish up just yet, I still as though I have a fair bit to offer so we shall see.
“I’m very grateful that coach Ryan Petrik and the Flames are happy to have me for another three years. In particular, what it means is I can continue to lay a foundation for future guys to come in and be a part of a phenomenal community, mentor those young guys who are willing to learn, and continue to be part of a community that is pretty special to me.”
Possessing metronomic consistency and an assured presence on the court, with the ability to light up the scoreboard when required, Godfrey finished in the top three for the Flames in total points scored (149), points per game (14.9), assists per game (4.1), field goal attempts (113) and field goal makes (49) despite missing a few West Coast Classic games courtesy of a niggling injury.
“Growing up knowing Ryan Godfrey and playing against him so many times I know how good he is and I’ve followed his journey as a basketball player. Unfortunately he hasn’t had opportunities fall his way (to go to the next level) but he’s a high calibre player and a good bloke.” – Tom Jervis, 3-time NBL champion
Despite missing out on the WCC play-offs, Godfrey was grateful to have had any basketball at all during the Covid-19 pandemic, and believes the Flames have put down a solid foundation to build on as a team in the 2021 NBL1 West season.
“It was good to get up and down and get some minutes into the legs. If there was no league then essentially it would’ve been over 18 months without a decent game,” he said.
“For that I’m grateful there was a league, even if it was pretty hectic. It was also really good to play with a good bunch of blokes and create some good building blocks for 2021. We had a few different faces for the West Coast Classic, so it was enjoyable to play and work out where we fit in relation to our chemistry on the court.”
The plan for 2021, as it has been for the past few seasons in the men’s program, is to be among the main challengers for the championship – a quest that continues to fuel Godfrey’s motivation, not only as a reward for his current teammates but also those who came before him and helped him on his journey.
“(Winning a) championship is clearly the number one (goal) as you get older; it’s the only thing you play for,” he said.
“To give ourselves that opportunity would be amazing for me personally, but for every other player that has stepped foot in that locker room and helped me along the way it would be even better; I can’t even imagine (how good it would be).
“Outside a championship my goal is to continue to enjoy the game and enjoy the team we put together. We have an amazing bunch of blokes so keeping them happy is certainly important to me also.”
Also of interest in 2021 is the change in name and structure for the State Basketball League to the NBL1 West model, however Godfrey said he would reserve judgment on whether the move to a more centralised league would benefit players in WA, or if such a league would’ve changed his career path.
“To be honest I’m not sure (about NBL1 West), it feels like SBL with improved marketing at the moment. Time will tell if players are benefiting but the early signs of exposure seem to be heading in the right direction,” he said.
“However, with our current situation globally and NBL, it has its challenges. There are so many good basketball players and very little spots but that’s elite sport. Would I have benefited from a nationalised league? I’m not sure. It would depend on opportunities to play other state leagues.
“We had a lot of hidden gems over here, so to give them the opportunity to compete against the other leagues would have been fantastic for exposure of the SBL.”
The NBL1 West season is set to tip-off on April 15.