Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge will write a regular column for thewest.com.au during the NBL season.
The news of Brad Robbins wanting to retire caught me by surprise on the weekend and it really hit me because I have known him since he was 16 years of age.
But his decision just shows what a brave and courageous man he is.
He contacted me at about midnight on Friday after the game saying that he really needed to speak to me as soon as possible. We met first thing on Saturday morning and he looked really agitated, and he was upset. Obviously he had been thinking about it for a little bit of time now and he just simply broke down and was upset because he felt that he was letting the team and fans down.
He has always put his heart on his sleeve and never does anything half-heartedly at all. His total commitment to whatever he does is just incredible and he was very distraught. His first thoughts were about how he was letting everybody down, but once he got that out of his system and I told him that wasn’t the case at all, he just knew that it was time for him to move on.
He loves the club, but because of the high expectations he has on himself as the leader he felt that he was unable to totally continue committing the way that he thinks he should. From that perspective, that is a very honourable and a courageous and brave decision. I sensed that after he said it and got it off his chest that it was the right thing for him.
Everybody has different phases in their lives whether you go through turning 18 or 21 and then engagement parties, the time of marriage and having kids, christenings and all of those things. Everything has a significant part in your life and I look at my own staff and Andy Stewart used to be an accountant, but he didn’t want to do that anymore and he wanted to be a coach. I started out in the public service, but I wanted to be a basketball coach.
You can only do things for so long and one day I will turn around and know when it's time to finish coaching. Everybody is kidding themselves if they don’t think the time will come to do something different and that's where Robbo is.
He has achieved so much in his life. Even though he's only 27, he spent nine years in the league, played over 200 games, has won junior national championships, won gold medals, won a world championship and won an NBL title. He has achieved so much in his life and it was like what else could he really achieve.
The wear and tear on the body, the commitment after hip operations, knee injuries, broken nose, broken ribs, torn calves, wrist operations, finger operations and it gets to a point where enough is enough. That's where he's at.
A lot of people just keep doing something because of a financial reason, but money doesn’t buy happiness and I have learned that. For Robbo, it was never about the money. It was simply about where he's at in his life and what direction he wants to go.
If he kept going another six months, 18 months, two years or five years, he probably would have lost the love of the game so it was a case of him accepting where he's at and now it's time for him to move in a different direction while he's still young.
I don’t necessarily see him moving into coaching, sometimes you have to be a fool to be a coach. He can offer so many different things from that leadership perspective and there's so much to coaching, but most importantly it's about managing people.
I can see him wanting to help youth, wanting to help others and with all of our young guys it wasn’t so much that he was teaching them the technical aspects of becoming a better player, that's probably my job, but he taught them be an elite athlete and doing things the right way, and how to be a competitor and getting the mental toughness side of things.
When he started speaking about wanting to get into psychology, counselling, social work and youth he was glowing about it. He was positive and that's where when you have a passion about something, you do exceptionally well.
Because of his natural leadership skills, he has a passion to help other people and that's the path I can see him going down.
The hardest thing about his retirement from my perspective is that I've known him since he was playing with Vic Metro and I was coaching New South Wales teams. We identified him as part of our national program and back then it was just what you see is what you get with him.
He was hard-nosed, uncompromising and he gave nothing but 100 per cent. That's what he was like as a 16-year-old and then he was part of an incredible group of men at the world championship we won in 2003 where there was Damian Martin, Andrew Bogut, Matty Knight and Brad Newley, and all of those people who are successful now Robbo was part of that hardness and mental toughness. I've watched him now grow from and develop those leadership skills. He has gone from a young boy with passion to a man with passion.
On Sunday, I started him as nothing but a 100 per cent sign of respect for Robbo to lead our team on the floor in his last game. It was even more important for me, win or lose, to actually have him on the floor at the end of the game. What I saw within our group when he announced to the team that he was retiring on Saturday was the hurt and pain in all the players. It wasn’t even a pact, but you could just tell within the group that they wanted to do everything they possibly could do for Robbo.
That there just shows how much he is loved within the group for who he is as a player and person. It was probably a game we didn’t really deserve to win from a technical perspective, but the fighting spirit that we had was all because of Brad Robbins. That was all to do with him and he is enormously respected by everyone at the club.
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