Olympics fitting finale for Archibald
August 10, 2012 14:34 pm
Robert Archibald could not think of a better way to end his career in basketball than helping Great Britain to their first Olympic victory in 64 years.
The 32-year-old retired from the game after walking off the court at the end of Britain's 90-58 victory over China in their final group game.
"It's easily one of the best things I've done in basketball, and knowing I was going to be done gave me some room to step back and enjoy it," Archibald told Press Association Sport of the Olympic experience.
"Having 12,000 fans in there, it was a great atmosphere for basketball, and great for the younger players to get the sort of exposure they've not had before. I don't know how to put it into words but it was special."
Archibald brought the curtain down on a 10-year professional career that saw him play for four NBA teams after being drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002, as well as having spells with some of Spain's top teams and clubs in Italy and Ukraine.
The Paisley-born forward spent the past year with Zaragoza but knew midway through the season he was approaching the end.
"Physically I was struggling, and mentally the wear and the tear and the grind were starting to add up," said Archibald, who has battled back problems in recent seasons.
"I made the decision that I didn't want to continue to play basketball for the sake of playing basketball. I wanted to play at a high level, compete to win, and play for good teams. Once that started slipping away I felt like it was probably time to move on."
Playing in a home Olympics, only Britain's second ever appearance following on from the 1948 London Games, gave Archibald a fitting way to round out his career.
Britain's victory over China was their only win of the Games, a result that left many players disappointed as they blew a lead against Australia in the previous game to end their hopes of progressing from the group stages against the odds. But while they failed to make the quarter-finals, it did at least mean Archibald could finish with a victory.
"It was an emotional day," he said of his final game. "I was so focused on finishing with a win, I just felt I couldn't walk away from the court with a loss, and that was a big thing running through my head.
"This has been my life for the last 15 years, and it's taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears pushing yourself harder than you think you can go, achieving things you didn't know you could do.
"It's a big emotional release at the end, and to go from the low point of the Australia game - a huge missed opportunity, and I don't know that I've ever been more embarrassed walking off the court - to winning a game, even though it was a game we should have won, it was a huge emotional swing."
Archibald, who made his Britain debut in 2007, plans to take up to a year off to spend time with his family, but he is hopeful of watching the British basketball team continue to grow and being involved again.
"There's such huge untapped potential for basketball in Britain, and we felt we had to show there were some quality players coming out," he said. "We wanted to form a team that played with pride and then hopefully that filters into the fans and continues to grow. I think we've laid a solid foundation so it can continue and get better in the future."
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