22 March 2023

Vale Brian Franklin: Canberra basketball’s greatest servant passes away following a lengthy battle with cancer

| Tim Gavel
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Brian Franklin sitting with an award

Brian Franklin put it all on the line to help basketball in the ACT. Photo: ACT Government Facebook.

Brian Franklin was devoted to basketball in Canberra. He was one of several individuals in the 1980s who put their homes on the line to build the Southside Stadium at Woden.

The sport also benefited through his project management experience, resulting in the development of the Belconnen Basketball Stadium.

In fact, countless stories illustrate the absolute contribution Brian made to basketball in the ACT over 56 years.

We should be thankful he encountered the sport of basketball on an asphalt court at Canberra High School in 1954.

His other sporting passion was rugby union, which led to Brian becoming a foundation member of the Easts Club.

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He was deeply involved in both rugby and basketball until 1962. That year, a car accident on the way to a Moss Vale basketball carnival resulted in three fractured vertebrae.

What followed was an enforced two-year break from all sports. He was told to avoid sports that could possibly result in serious further injury to his neck or back.

Somehow, basketball was deemed to be okay by the experts due to its ‘non-contact’ nature and he was given the go-ahead to play.

Because of this, Brian Franklin threw himself into the sport.

He was a force of nature, and the sport was the beneficiary of his energy and drive, especially anything associated with the Weston Creek Woden Basketball Club, of which he was awarded life membership.

But his contribution wasn’t confined to club level.

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Over the next 56 years, Brian dedicated his life to basketball in Canberra as a player, coach, administrator, tribunal member, president, CEO, board member, executive officer and historian.

As a volunteer, he managed over 600 team competitions.

That list is only the tip of the iceberg.

In 1978, alongside Terry Ryan, Col Alexander and Peter Higgisson, Brian became a founding member of the team that established the Cannons.

Canberra Cannons in 1990. Photo: File.

Canberra Cannons in 1990. Brian Franklin was a driving force in founding the club Photo: File.

Just over 20 years later, he was instrumental in keeping the Capitals afloat in 1999, the year they won the wooden spoon.

The following season the Capitals won the WNBL premiership.

Brian also championed the sport to a greater audience, promoting NBL Legends games against Olympic Legends in Canberra.

He also promoted the Harlem Globetrotters.

Perhaps his greatest contribution, though, was as a historian. He dutifully documented almost every aspect of the sport in Canberra. This included countless profiles of Canberra basketball players and administrators, a skill developed as a basketball correspondent for The Canberra Times and The Canberra News.

After a lengthy battle with cancer, Brian passed away on Sunday at Claire Holland House.

Brian Franklin will long be remembered for his contribution to basketball in the ACT. Photo: FB.

Brian Franklin will long be remembered for his contribution to basketball in the ACT. Photo: Facebook.

Basketball ACT president Allan Yates said Brian was a common thread in everything associated with the sport in Canberra over the past 50 years.

“I can’t think of too many things that happened in basketball in Canberra that didn’t involve Brian. This includes the Cannons, the Capitals, and the development of the Southside and Belconnen Basketball stadiums. He was a giant of the sport in Canberra. His passing is a very sad day for basketball in the ACT.”

Basketball ACT is currently discussing how best to honour and commemorate Brian Franklin. He was, without doubt, Basketball ACT’s greatest advocate.

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