Sport | Basketball

Former teammate reflects on legendary career of Tom Abercrombie following retirement announcement

Veteran Tall Black and NZ Breakers captain Tom Abercrombie has confirmed he will retire at the end of the 2024 NBL season.

“Basketball has been a massive part of my life for as long as I can remember,” an emotional Abercombie said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“It (basketball) has provided me countless joys and experiences but all good things must come to an end.”

His final game could be this Friday against the Brisbane Bullets, depending on the result.

The 36-year-old veteran will step away from the sport at the end of the team’s current campaign to make the playoffs, needing to win at least one of their final two games to make a late surge for a playoff appearance.

Through his 16 seasons, the Westlake Boys High School alumni has played in all four of the Breakers’ ANBL championships, winning the final series MVP award in 2011. He’s the only player to have appeared in all six of the team’s trips to the finals.

“I’ve been so lucky to spend my entire career playing for the Breakers - my hometown team - in front of my friends and family.

“Sport has taken me around the globe but, in doing so, has only reinforced that it’s here, in this place with this team, where I’ve truly been able to find myself.”

Ray Cameron (Ngāpuhi) recalls a young Abercrombie when he played for the Waikato Pistons in 2009 alongside his brother Pero Cameron.

“Our coach Dean Vickerman gave him a chance with that stacked team, and he just flourished. And he won rookie of the year that year.

“His athleticism and the way he played the game was raw but everything was going to catch up. His IQ and learning the game under great leadership was such a massive step for him.”

Cameron says Abercrombie’s career will go down as one of the best in New Zealand basketball history but “it’s his work off the court that is just as impactful.

“He’s given so much time to the community that I think for a few years he didn’t have breaks between all of the competitions he was playing in, and the influence he had impacted the growth of basketball in the country.”

Abercrombie boasts career ANBL per game averages of 10.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists.

The 36-year-old’s departure will bring the curtain down on one of New Zealand basketball’s most decorated careers.

“It’s been about representing a family, a country and a lot of people have put their heart and soul into this organisation.”

“I am personally very grateful for Tom’s partnership for the last six years and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for him.”

Breakers owner Matt Walsh confirms Abecrombie’s No. 10 jersey will be retired and hang alongside those of fellow club greats and teammates Paul Henare, Dillon Boucher and CJ Bruton in the rafters of Spark Arena.

Abercrombie made his debut for the Breakers back in 2008 and holds the club record for points (4434) games played (425), field goals made (1536) three-pointers (568) free-throws (794) steals (302), and blocks (262).