My Favourite Jersey: Mike Shaft

British basketball announcers don’t come much more passionate than Mike Shaft. The commentator, radio presenter and religious broadcaster has been following British basketball since day one, and continues to present play-by-play for the Sheffield Sharks and the Cheshire Phoenix. We pinned Mike down to find out about his favourite jersey.

When I was invited to write this article on my favourite jersey, I knew exactly what I was going to write about.

There’s a question I am asked constantly – about who is the best player I’ve ever seen in this country – and I always try to avoid giving an exact answer. I’ve been following basketball in this country for about 40 years and I’ve seen all the players who have played here. I’m talking about the likes of Alton Byrd, Steve Bontrager, Vince Brookins, Alan Cunningham, Dan Davis and the rest. I saw Kenny Scott play up close and personal. I have a mental picture of my top five BBL players, and I use that as the starting point when I try to evaluate new players joining. Where would they fit in?

Vince Brookins is one of my all-time favourite players in the BBL, and when I first saw this player, the one who wore my favourite jersey, he reminded me so much of Vince it was incredible. Vince could do it all. It’s easy to look into the past with rose-tinted spectacles, but I recently saw a VHS of the Manchester Giants’ game featuring Vince Brookins, and I can tell you he was all that. I never got a Vince Brookins shirt. I am sure they exist somewhere, but I’m not holding out much hope.

The player whose shirt I absolutely treasure is Victor Moses.

Victor came into the BBL for the 2013/14 season with the Cheshire Phoenix. Fortunately for me, I was commentating for the Phoenix that season, and I was able to see his every move at the Northgate Arena. He was a gem of a player, and I knew he was never going to return to the team following this first season. Players of his calibre tend to get picked up by teams in the richer basketball nations.

At the end of that season the Phoenix auctioned off the players’ kit and I put in my bid for his playing shirt. Unfortunately I was outbid. I then put in another bid – this time for his warm-up top – and I was successful.

This is my most prized possession. Until I lay my hands on a Brookins shirt from back in the day, this will have to do.

Illustration: Michael Driver
Words: Mike Shaft