Leigh Ellis has been to many basketball courts around America in recent years, but he said there’s something special about coming back to Sunbury’s Eric Boardman Stadium.
Ellis, who found his love of basketball while growing up in Sunbury, has been part of the podcast The Starters [formerly known as the The Basketball Jones] and has made a name for himself in NBA media circles.
So it was not that surprising that he would step back on the court while back visiting.
“My life’s journey has taken me all over the world and to the NBA which would have been my dream as a 12-year-old boy,” he said.
“Tim Thornton and I used to play together as Braves, I contacted him saying I was looking to play again [while home] and he said we had a spot in our over 35s.
“I played some games with him and a few other guys I’ve known over the years, it was really fun to be out there and playing.
“It [Boardman Stadium] has changed so much since I was a boy, but it’s just as cold as it used to be, the court surface, the smells and all those things I remember were the same.”
Having grown up loving the NBA and impersonating his heroes like Isiah Thomas, Scotty Pippen and Shaquille O’Neal, it was a move to Canada that would see him step into the media landscape and launch his career.
He said his obsession with the game had taken him to where he is, along with being in the right place at the right time.
“I was working for a sports TV network, The Score. I had heard of these guys called The Basketball Jones … I really wanted to be involved in that.
“They convinced the bosses at The Score to take basketball on the road [during the 2011-12 lockout] and do a podcast tour. It was a five week trip and they invited me to go on that trip.
“They said basically, we need someone to get our coffees and do our laundry for us, they offered to me, ‘I said I’d do it’.
“When we got back to Toronto, I said I would love to continue working with you full-time. We had a little discussion, and I joined them full time for the 2011-12 season.”
From there the show got picked up by NBA TV in 2013-14 and the group moved to Atlanta.
It ran until the end of the 2018-19 season, before NBA TV decided not to renew the show.
Ellis said while disappointing, there would be new opportunities. He’s now doing a podcast called, The Free Agents.
“It’s disappointing as we wanted to continue and when you have a job like that you don’t want to walk way from it,” he said.
“The last six years the most fun in my life, from a career stand point.
“I don’t think its over from a stand point for me working in NBA again,
“I think I will continue to work in nba field, doing something differently.”
Ellis said since he started there had been a change in the landscape, with more Australians starting to have an impact on and off the court in the NBA.
There’s more Australians in the media over there, while the players performances are speaking for themselves.
“Guys are starting members and playing impactful minutes for championship teams, which is really good.
“I think globally, particularly in the NBA, Australian players have earned a lot of respect as they know, not everyone will be a super star, but you will get tough players and guys who work hard.”