SOME know Shoalhaven product Phil Lynch best for his sporting exploits while others know him as the guy that commentated at four Olympic Games.
Regardless of how you know the now 71-year-old, there is one constant in it all.
Lynch first started playing on the hardwood in 1961, in his first year at Nowra High School.
"A couple of years before, my sister had preceded me at the school and she came home one day and she said 'the boys play a game called basketball at school'," Lynch said.
"At that stage, neither of us had ever heard of it.
"She thought I should have a go because I was tall.
"So, when my first winter sports day came along, and they mentioned basketball I put my hand up."
After dribbling and shooting for hoops for the first time at the Nowra High gym, he never looked back.
"I used to muck around after school with the outdoor courts and in the gym when we could get in," he said.
"At that time, I thought all schools had gyms in those days, but I think Nowra High School was the only school south of Wollongong, that actually had a gym - even though it was very small.
"So, it really was that what made basketball take off there for me."
While most Shoalhaven products these days can say they learnt their craft playing at the Tigers Den, Lynch's involvement preceded that venue, instead playing on concrete floors in hangars at local naval base, HMAS Albatross.
"There was no basketball stadium at Bomaderry and the Nowra High court was quite small," he said.
"So because of the size of the navy and the fact that half the players in the competition were in the navy, they set up a court in one of the aircraft hangars at Albatross and painted the floor in basketball markings, and that's where we played, on concrete floors.
"We didn't think anything of it, we thought it was pretty normal to do that."
During these years, Lynch credits former Nowra High maths teacher Peter O'Connor - the father of dual international Michael - as helping to develop the games of both himself and others like Ralph Cook - who was two years older than Lynch.
"He [Peter] was the guy that started us all off, as he was the only basketball coach in town at that point in time," he said.
"Peter put these teams together called 'The Comets' - you started off in B grade and worked through to A grade.
"When I think back on life, he [Peter] was the guy that really started things for me, and was an excellent coach and was a very good fundamentals coach."
After a number of years playing at these two aforementioned venues, Lynch walked into the Den for the first time, after it was built in 1966.
"I can absolutely still remember walking in the Den for the first time," he said.
"I went in with the school team and we thought it was absolute heaven."
During that time, which also saw the Tigers Den add a second court in 1972, Lynch pulled on the black and gold jersey on numerous occasions, which culminated in a run to the state finals in 1969.
"We used to play in the Southern Region Championships and that was sort of the highest level we used to get to," he said.
"But one particular year, in 1969, we had a pretty good group - including a couple of pretty good navy players.
"At the time, this was the championships that you played in to qualify for NSW Championships, though state championships were generally beyond us, we never really got that far.
"But this particular year, we got through to the final against Illawarra number two.
"Now, Illawarra number one was a pre-qualifier for the state championships, so they weren't in it - so we played against Illawarra two in the final.
"That meant if we win the final, we could go through to the state championship, if we lose, we'd play state championship division two, which is about where we thought we'd be.
"But I remember being on level pegging at half-time and in the dressing room at half-time, people were saying 'gee, do you reckon we should win this, because if we do, we're going to get thrashed in the state championship, but if we lose, we could do well in division two, perhaps win division two state'.
"One of the blokes piped up and said 'I've never played in a game I've gone out to lose, so let's go for it'."
So Lynch's team went out and won the final, qualifying them for the state titles - which was the elite competition, along with nationals, in a time of no NBL or SEABL.
"It was a big deal for us to make the state championship," he said.
As the southern NSW qualifiers, the Tigers joined a team from northern NSW, Newcastle, Illawarra and four teams from Sydney to make up the eight competing sides.
Being played at Alexandria, the Tigers were pitted up against Newcastle in game one - a side who'd won 10 of the past 11 state titles and had three Olympians in their side, not to mention having Australian coach Dr John Raschke on the sidelines.
"So there we were, lowly little Shoalhaven playing against Newcastle, a team we didn't even belong on the same court as, but at half-time, we were pretty close and only down by a few points," Lynch said.
"I'd had a pretty good first half, I had about 16 points or something like that."
It was that half of basketball that changed Lynch's life forever.
"That half-time break was probably the next turning point in my life because Dr. John Raschke actually came down and sat on our bench and asked me about myself and where I came from and what I did and that sort of stuff," he said.
"This was the start of him recruiting me to go and play with his team in Newcastle, which was, you know, a real turning point in my life.
"I often go back to thinking about that decision, whether to win that game against Illawarra two or not.
"I would've never have been in that position [if not for the win] and who knows what my life would've done."
Following that run to the state titles, Lynch made the move north to Newcastle the following year, after a string of letters from Raschke to come play for his club.
"I moved to Newcastle to play under the tutelage of the national coach, who wrote a series of letters, as it was not like today," he said.
"There were no phone calls involved - I wish I'd had kept the letters actually, they were long handwritten letters, not emails or anything like that.
"In the letters, he set out for me what he reckoned I could do and suggested if I worked hard I could maybe one day make the Australian team - which made me go 'wow'."
Upon arriving in Newcastle, Lynch was set up with a steady job, which allowed him to work on the court with Raschke every day for three months.
"I used to meet him in the afternoon at the courts, he'd work out with me individually - so I could get to the stage where I could just actually be on the court with these other guys," he said.
"It all kind of went from there - it was a real springboard moment in my career."
This led to Lynch making his first NSW side in 1970, to play at the Australian championships in Adelaide.
"It was a very different system in those days - it was state verse state," he said.
"We gathered in one city for a week and we played a week of national championships, which is only done at junior level and not senior level these days.
"After playing pretty well, I was lucky enough to be picked for the Australian squad, which they picked after the championships."
Lynch would go on to play for his state on a number of occasions, including on a tour of the United States.
"As a result of a number of games I played on that particular trip [the the US], I was told later by the officials I had set the record for the number of games anybody had ever played, for NSW and it was a record not to be broken because nobody plays for NSW anymore," he said.
This started Lynch's seven-year run with the national team - which included him controversially being left out of the 1972 Olympic Games team at Munich.
"1972 was my best chance of making the Olympics," the six foot nine inches Lynch said.
"You start with a squad of 25, and we got down to the final 15 and of that squad were 13 Victorians, one was from South Australia and one from NSW, which was me.
"I remember people saying to me, 'oh, you'll be right, cause they got to pick at least one from NSW and you're it'.
"But when the team was announced, there were 11 Victorians and one South Australian, and I wasn't in it - I was actually named as first reserve.
"Interestingly, things were very different in those days - I remember I found out I wasn't in the team when we were driving from Newcastle to Sydney to play and on the way to the game, we'd stopped at Peat's Ridge for a drink
"John Raschke's son had bought a copy of the Herald that day, and we were sitting all around there and having a drink, and Raschke said 'oh, Phil, so you didn't make the team.'
"That's how I found out I'd missed out on going to the 1972 Olympics."
After this disappointment, Lynch continued playing with Newcastle with an eye on the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976.
"By the time I got to 1976, I was probably down the pecking order a bit," he said.
"Funnily, I remember in 1974 I went on a tour of the US again, this time with the Newcastle team and when I got back, and I had a call from the national selector telling me I had been picked for a tour of New Zealand, where we would contest the Commonwealth Cup.
"But before I committed to going, I checked with work - as we all had full-time jobs at that stage - because I'd just returned from a five-week tour.
"After asking if I could go, my boss said 'sure you can go, but you won't have a job when you come back'."
Ultimately, Lynch had to turn down the offer of playing on that New Zealand tour.
"It was a very different world in those days - we were all amateurs and we didn't get paid to play," he said.
"You had to pay your own way into the basketball stadium to play - it was completely different.
"There wasn't the financial incentive to go on and play.
"So when it came to 1976 and I didn't make the Montreal team, I had to rethink things.
"Our first child had been born and I was thinking there was nothing further ahead representative-wise, so as my wife was from Nowra as well, we made the decision to move back."
Lynch's move back to Nowra coincided with a golden era for the Tigers.
"They'd [Shoalhaven] actually started to build a pretty decent team and there had been a few US coaches and athletes playing with the Tigers in those days," he said.
"They had some solid juniors and I remember telling John Martin I was going to come back, he said 'well, that's interesting - we could have a decent team'."
Decent is selling it short, as Lynch joined the likes of Ray Hannett (an Australian player who'd just married a Nowra girl) and those juniors on the squad, coached by University of California Santa Barbara's Gene Rodgers.
It was Rodgers' connections in the US which led to Bob Turner joining the Tigers.
"I've got a young kid here who's just graduated, who doesn't know what he wants to do with life - he's a bit disillusioned and he didn't have a happy finish at college," the Santa Barbara coach at the time said.
"As a player, he graduated, he didn't play all that much at the finish and he's a bit footloose, maybe he'd like to come.
"His name was Bob Turner.
"He arrived and he was a long blond haired California surfer boy, prepared to stay six-months for a bit of an adventure - here he is about 44 years later and still here."
During that three-year run, the Tigers became a force in NSW - seeing them claim the silver medal in a very close finals match in 1977.
"We probably should've won against Sydney YMCA - who were probably the forerunner of what is now the Sydney Kings," he said.
"If you think about it, we were the number two team in NSW and we were up there with the rest of the teams in Australia.
"We played in the Australian Club Championships, we didn't do all that well, but we were probably as high-ranked as a Shoalhaven Tigers team has ever been."
This run ended in 1979, which coincided with the creation of the NBL - seeing Turner join Newcastle, Jerry Lee move to Canberra, and Hannett return to Illawarra, effectively gutting the Tigers' nucleus.
"That was a big year because it was the birth of the NBL, and in my case, I wasn't going on to play NBL," he said.
"I was coming to the end of my time, age-wise, injury-wise, finance-wise, all those sorts of things.
"I had to start getting serious about life and I had a couple of kids by that stage.
"It was a turning period for me because my life moved from playing basketball to commentating basketball."
Thus started the second phase of Lynch's career - in the media, which all started by chance when he was asked to speak at a Lions Club dinner at Kiama.
"I spoke about basketball and a guy came up to me after, and it turned out he was an executive from WIN TV in Wollongong and said 'you seem to know about basketball, and you speak okay, have you ever thought about doing basketball commentary on television'," Lynch said.
"I said 'no, I hadn't, but I'd be really interested'."
Within a couple of weeks, Lynch had submitted an audition tape, which led to him going for a trial run in the studio.
"The audition was quite ridiculous, they put on a VHS tape of a basketball game and turned the sound right down and said 'go ahead and commentate'," he said.
"It was Illawarra verse St Kilda and I was quite familiar with all of the main players, but they didn't want to hear much actually.
"I reckon I had about five minutes of it."
Interestingly enough, on the tape Lynch had submitted, was also the voice of Bernie Regan, as the pair had been commentating rugby league for 2ST at that point.
As WIN liked what they heard, they hired both of them - seeing the pair commentate on Illawarra Hawks games from 1979 to 1981, until cost-cutting put an end to it.
Despite this, the pair continued to call league, sailing, go-karting and football.
"We became expert commentators on everything, within those times it was all a bit crazy," he said.
"Then when WIN stopped their outside broadcasts they put Bernie on a sports show, so he used to host a regular sports show on weekends from WIN TV Wollongong, so he did that."
Around the same time, Lynch was approached by Capital Seven in Canberra to commentate the Canberra Cannons' games.
"I started travelling from Bomaderry to Canberra on weekends just to do the Cannons' games," he said.
"They also started up a basketball show called Hooked of Cannons, which I hosted.
"I then started to branch out and started doing all sorts of other commentaries for other people - it was in the days where pay TV had just started and different pay operators were starting to show basketball, so I did bits here and there for all sorts of people."
In 1984, another breakthrough moment came for Lynch when he was asked to commentate the Olympic Games for Channel 10.
"That was another big moment in my life because it was a real catapult for me," he said.
In 1985, because of the success of the Olympic basketball coverage, people were more attuned to it and Channel 10 started up their own basketball show, which Lynch worked on.
"There was a time in that period where I was working for three different channels on some weekends," he said.
"I might be in Melbourne on Friday night, in Sydney on Saturday and Canberra on Sunday - it was all a bit frantic."
After years of commuting, Lynch finally made the move to the nation's capital in 1987 - a period of time which also saw him make documentaries with Michael Milton, John Eales and Mal Meninga.
"I was at the Canberra Cannons presentation night and at the end of that night, I sat down after I finished the presentation and a guy came up to me from 2CC, which was the leading radio station in Canberra at the time, and asked had I ever considered doing radio," he said.
"I had been doing radio in Nowra, because I took over from Bernie [Regan] as the 2ST sports editor and I used to do the morning news and the weekend sports program - so I'd done some radio.
"But he was after me to do a different kind of radio, this was to be 9am-12pm on 2CC in a talk format - it was a big deal as 2CC was actually the number one station in town and it was the one that everybody listened to."
The 2CC gig only lasted one year, which saw Lynch transition into television with Capital Seven, before becoming Prime Canberra's first sports editor after calling the Seoul Olympics - which Lynch labelled another 'turning point'.
During his career, Lynch went on to commentate four Olympic Games, starting with Los Angeles, before Seoul, Atlanta and Sydney in 2000.
"1984 in Los Angeles was exciting with it being my first Olympics and the fact I'd never done anything like that before," he said.
"Michael Jordan played for the US in 1984, the only Olympics he'd played prior to the Dream Team in 1992, as in those years the US team was always made up of college players.
"I was fortunate enough to commentate Michael Jordan's games in 1984, but looking back on it, it was also a disappointment because Bobby Knight, the coach from Indiana, was a hard-nosed guy.
"Jordan was obviously a superstar then with some pretty flashy moves, and any time he did anything too flashy, Knight would just bench him as if to say 'no, you play my way'. "
Another memory for Lynch in 1984 was calling the Australia women's team at their first Olympics.
"It was exciting to be part of that sort of history and commentate all their games," he said.
1988 was an entirely different experience for Lynch.
"In 1984, the US used all pre-existing facilities, they didn't build anything apart from digging a hole in the ground for a pool," he said.
"All the facilities were at colleges or so on and my venue was the Forum at Los Angeles, where the Lakers played in those days prior to the Staples Centre.
"When we went to Seoul, the whole thing was brand new, they built every venue for the games - whether it be track and field or cycling, basketball or gymnastics.
"Everything was brand new and there were in two distinct precincts about a kilometre apart, whereas in LA top to bottom it was about 150km apart.
"The Seoul Olympics were just special, they had a great feel to them.
"People talk about the feel of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Seoul was a bit similar to that I think because of the geography of the place."
More fond memories from Seoul was the success of the Australian teams.
"The Aussie women went so close to winning their first medal, being pipped at the post in the bronze medal game, which was just so close," he said.
"That was another part of Australian women's history that I was fortunate enough to be a part of.
"Then Tony Ronaldson hit a huge basket against Croatia to put Australia into the medal round in 1996, which was just a huge moment - it was a big step forward for the Boomers at the time."
But the memory that stands out to Lynch the most, which has the most historical significance was when the Soviet Union defeat the US in the semi-final 82-76.
"That was the first time the US had been beaten in an Olympics since the 1972 - the greatest controversial game," he said.
"The US again had mostly college players with the exception of a couple, including David Robertson, known as the Admiral, so they had some pretty handy players like that, and they got beaten by the Soviet Union.
"It was that loss by the US which prompted them to form the Dream Team in 1992, because they said 'we're not going to let this happen again.'
"They made sure all the pros played in 1992 and of course they've had a pretty good team since."
After not attending Barcelona in 1992, Lynch headed back to the US for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
"One of the highlights of 1996 was there was bomb blast - a bloke exploded a bomb quite close to the broadcast centre," he said.
"I was there not far from it at the time and I heard the blast and all that stuff, so a bit of an enduring memory."
His final Olympic Games was in Sydney.
"It was just everybody's favourite games because it was at home, and the spirit of Sydney - it was very special," he said.
On top of the four Olympic Games, Lynch also commentated at the FIBA World Championships in 1986 (Spain), 1994 (Greece) and 1998 (Toronto), as well as the 2006 and 2018 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
"In 1986 in Spain, one of the greatest games I've ever seen was the old Yugoslavia at the time against the old Soviet Union," he siad.
"For people who have a history of the game and know some of the old names, people like Arvydas Sabonis was leading the Soviet Union team and Yugoslavia had the Petrovic brothers.
"It was just an amazing game, Soviet Union was down by nine with 45 seconds to go and won it - they hit three three-pointers.
"Sabonis, who was 7'2, hit one of them and in those days, those players never took three-pointers, but he pounded one from on top of the key, and it was off the backboard from in front.
"It was just an amazing finish, they took it to overtime and won it in overtime."
Away from the court, Lynch has also huge a huge impact on setting up the Bernie Regan Memorial Sporting Trust - which has given out more than $350,000 to aspiring Shoalhaven sports stars over the past 35 years.
"Bernie [Regan] was a good friend of mine and a good friend to a lot of people," he said.
"Before my seven years in Newcastle, I knew him but not well and by the time I'd returned, Bernie was running the sport at 2ST and the South Coast Register - he was Mr Sport in town.
"He even had a sports store in Nowra mall which was the hub of sport in Nowra."
It was upon his return the pair became very close, even working out at the gym together.
So much so, Regan was always one of the first people Lynch contacted when he returned from any of his trips - just like in 1984.
"I remember coming back to my home to Bomaderry and one of the first people I ring when I came back on a Sunday night was Bernie to tell him I'm back," he said.
"And we started to talk about the [Olympic] Games, I remember Bernie cutting me short, and saying 'look, don't tell me all about it, let's get the boys together at Bridge Tavern on Thursday night, and you can tell us all your games highlights and all your stories.'
"And I was looking forward to that.
"Except on Wednesday night I got a phone call that said that Bernie had played touch football, as he generally did on a Wednesday, and gone home, sat down with his family for dinner, started feeling unwell, got up from the table and started to go up to lie down on the bed, he got halfway to the bedroom and collapsed with a massive heart attack.
"For a 40-year-old, nobody could believe it.
"He was a very fit guy and it sent shockwaves all through the Shoalhaven community."
After Regan's passing, people from the Shoalhaven sports community knew they had to do something to honour his name.
"As one of his closest friends, people approached me and said 'let's do something'," he said.
"So I called a meeting of people and we gathered at the Bomaderry RSL and about 100 people turned up and we started to kick around ideas of what we should do.
"There were two decisions made, one of them was to start the Bernie Regan Memorial Sporting Trust to raise funds, so to carry on the work that Bernie had done.
"He started an initiative many years ago called the Shoalhaven Sports Foundation which used to give money to young sporting kids on the way up, particularly whose parents couldn't afford all of the gear and all of the travel and so on - we used to make grants for them.
"So we decided to do it on a bigger scale and start the Trust so that work can be carried on and more kids can be helped."
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This saw the Trust set out to raise $50,000 in the first year - a huge amount of money in 1984.
"I'm very pleased and proud of the Shoalhaven community that they all got behind it, particularly all of the sporting clubs, and raised $50,000, which we were able to be put into a trust fund."
The other decision made on that day was to name a sports ground after Regan and in 1997, the Shoalhaven City Council officially opened the Bernie Regan Sporting Complex at North Nowra.
"The second goal took a little longer but it was worth the wait - it's a fantastic facility," Lynch, who was the first ever chairman of the BRMST, said.
Lynch, who has been inducted into the Shoalhaven Sporting Hall of Fame, still resides in Canberra but visits the Shoalhaven regularly, especially to host the annual grant presentation of the Bernie Regan Memorial Sporting Trust - which will be held at the Bomaderry Bowling Club on Friday, October 18.