Wildcats' Martin calls time on NBL career

Shayne Hope
Six-time NBL champion Damian Martin has called an end to his basketball playing career

Six-time NBL champion Damian Martin has called time on his glittering basketball career after more than a decade at the forefront of Perth Wildcats' dominance.

The tough point-guard is widely regarded as the best defensive player in the league's history and leaves a huge hole in the Wildcats' roster before their next title defence.

Martin, who turns 36 in December, is recovering from surgery on an Achilles tendon injury that would have kept him sidelined until next year.

"It's been well beyond anything I ever thought was possible and probably something I won't be really appreciative of until I sit down and take the time to really reflect on it," Martin said of his career.

"But the highlight for me is the way it's made my mum, my dad, my wife and my daughters feel.

"I'm really going to miss bringing my three-year-old daughter and my one-year-old daughter out onto the court at RAC Arena after a game and just seeing the sheer delight they get just from having seen Wilbur (the team mascot), the dancers and getting to high-five my teammates.

"Anything you do you want to be able to share it with the people you love and that's where I've been most fortunate."

Martin played 342 NBL games, was named the league's best defensive player a record six times and was the grand final MVP in 2016.

The long-time Wildcats captain was named in the All-NBL first team in 2011.

The NBL on Tuesday moved quickly to honour Martin, renaming the best defensive player award in his honour.

It will be known as the Damian Martin Trophy for Best Defensive Player of the regular season.

Martin also enjoyed a decorated international career and represented Australia at the 2016 Olympics after narrowly missing out four years earlier.

He was a member of Australia's famous Under-19 World Cup gold medal-winning team in 2003 and snared Commonwealth Games gold with the Boomers in 2018.

Originally from Gloucester, NSW, Martin started his professional career with West Sydney Razorbacks and Sydney Spirit before following coach Rob Beveridge to Perth in 2009.

The pair won a NBL title together in their first season at the Wildcats and Martin went on to play in five more championships over the past seven seasons under Trevor Gleeson.

"Damo's the best player I've coached in over 400 NBL games," Gleeson said.

"He's an inspiration and a high IQ player who gives everything he has to his team and to the contest.

"I've seen him play through multiple injuries that would have stopped most players from stepping onto the court.

"His toughness is second to none. He's a warrior who earned my respect many years ago."

The Wildcats have three spots left to fill on their roster - including two for imports - as they chase a club-record third successive championship in 2020-21.

The season is expected to begin in December.