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September 23, 2006 at 10:04 pm #11066
Bye bye AO I will miss you
Harvey Norman NZ Breakers and Tall Black guard Aaron Olson has announced his retirement from big time basketball.
The 29-year-old sharp-shooter says his heart isn’t in the sport at the moment and he is returning to his native Canada to determine his future.
“I don’t have anything lined up, everything’s up in the air,” Olson said. “To be honest, I am a little apprehensive about heading into the unknown, but I’m also looking forward to this new phase in my life.”
A foundation member of the Breakers, Olson has not missed a game since the club joined the Australian NBL in 2003. His 130 appearances are a franchise record he shares with his great mate Paul Henare.
“This is the toughest part, saying good bye to team mates who have meant so much to me,” Olson said. “I feel like I’m letting them down, but it’s better I make the hard call now with plenty of time for the Breakers to finalise a replacement.”
The club’s MVP in 2005, “AO” is the Breakers’ leading pointscorer with 1800 points at 14 points per game and farewells the NBL with impressive shooting percentages – 36% from beyond the 3-point line, 41% in total from the floor and 83% from the free-throw line.
“My time in New Zealand has been great,” Olson said. “Playing sport for a living is a dream job, so I feel I’ve been extremely privileged.”
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis says Olson’s departure with two years left on his contact “leaves a hole”.
“My disappointment at seeing him go is only tempered by the respect I have for Aaron and the decision he has made, because Aaron’s a deep thinker and he won’t have made this call lightly,” Lemanis said.
“Desire is obviously a huge part of sport and it is courageous of Aaron to recognise that a spark is missing. Rather than go through the motions he has chosen to do the right thing and, obviously, we wish him well because he’s a great guy.”
Lemanis is now looking to fill Olson’s place in the Breakers’ roster with a ‘local’ player before signing the two allowable imports.
After a college career for the University of Victoria and Eastern Washington, Olson joined the Auckland Stars in 2001. He debuted for New Zealand in 2003 against the Czech Republic and went on to play at the 2005 Athens Olympics, 2006 Commonwealth Games and last year’s FIBA World Championships in Japan.
In 27 games for his country he averaged 8.2 points (45.1% FG, 40% 3pt).
He also played 77 New Zealand NBL games, winning championships with Auckland in 2004 and 2005. Olson was named MVP of the 2004 final and averaged 17.2 points over his career.
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