Remembering the time Magic Johnson suited up for the Canberra Cannons
Before you read this do yourself a favour and click on this link.
Did you do it? Well in case you didn’t that is 9 glorious minutes of Earvin “Magic” Johnson recording a triple double playing for the Canberra Cannons against his alma mater the Michigan State Spartans.
The game happened in 2002 so it’s pretty impressive that it’s made its way onto youtube. It’s also a stark reminder that Canberra no longer has its Cannons and that’s a real shame.
The NBL has had some ups and downs over the years with multiple teams folding, moving cities or both. There’s also the NBL’s attempt to expand in the Asian market and failing with a team in Singapore. The league is unrecognisable from its peak in the 80’s and early 90’s but it finally looks to be in a sustainable position.
Some of you might be reading this thinking that Magic suiting up for the Cannons is the pinnacle of their existence, if you’re thinking that you’d be wrong… There’s also this. Just kidding but what other NBL team has their own rap record?
If you look at championships won by teams from Canberra competing in a national competition the Canberra Cannons are tied for the 2nd most successful across any sport. The cannons have brought home 3 championships from 4 trips to the finals between 1983 and 1989. To put that into perspective the Brumbies have 2 from 5 attempts, the Raiders have 3 from 4 attempts, Canberra Cavalry have 1, Canberra capitals have 7, the Canberra Vikings have 0 (across NRC and ARC), the CBR brave have 0, The GWS Giants have 0 (I’m claiming them), the Canberra Cosmos (soccer) have 0, Canberra United (soccer) have 3 and the Canberra Comets (cricket) have 0.
It’s no coincidence that two of Canberra’s most successful teams are basketball teams and one hasn’t existed since 2003.
So I find myself asking this question. Is it possible to bring the Cannons back?
Andrew Barr has been on record saying that the government would support bringing them back but would not be a majority stakeholder in the team. While not the ideal scenario it’s good to know that there would be some form of support if someone wanted to bring them back.
If you go back through some of the Cannons rosters of the 80’s and 90’s many of those players have stayed in Canberra and/or have gone on to fairly successful careers off the court. One person who comes to mind is former Cannon Mark Sinderberry who has been the CEO of the Brumbies, Saracens and Western Force. He could be looking for a new role now that the ARU have unceremoniously ‘axed’ the Western Force, maybe a good place to start?