Perth Wildcats head coach Trevor Gleeson has announced he is leaving the club to pursue an opportunity with the NBA.
- Trevor Gleeson has left the Perth Wildcats after eight years
- He claimed five championships and won Coach of the Year
- Gleeson is taking up an assistant coaching role with the NBA
Gleeson has been coach since 2013 and in that time the team has won five championships, with Gleeson winning Coach of the Year in the most recent season.
“It’s bittersweet, and it’s been a whirlwind last 48 hours without a question,” Gleeson said.
“When I briefly think back to when I first interviewed in 2013, they gave me an opportunity and really backed us all the way.
“I’d like to thank Jack and the board for making a good hire and keeping me around for eight years.”
Gleeson said he was unable to reveal what the NBA opportunity was at this stage, other than to say it was an assistant coaching role, but hoped to be able to in the coming days.
‘This is the pinnacle’
Gleeson said today was an emotional day but that he was looking forward to the next chapter.
“If you had have told me when I walked in the door eight years ago that I would win five championships, be in six finals, I would have said you’re dreaming,” he said.
“And the opportunity for these guys to play for something bigger than themselves, I’m blessed to have had that opportunity.
Gleeson said the recent sale of the Wildcats from owner Jack Bendat to Sports Entertainment Group (SEG) had nothing to do with his decision to leave.
“I’ve had offers before, in Asia and in Europe, to leave and [for[ better financial terms, and I’ve always turned it down because we love Perth and we love the Wildcats,” he said.
“But this is the NBA.
“This is the pinnacle, the best competition in the world, the best players in the world.
“I can’t put my head on the pillow and say I’m going to turn that offer down.”
Process to pick new coach begins
Gleeson said it had been a special privilege to coach the Wildcats.
“When I talked to my daughter yesterday she was very upset about it,” he said.
“And she said ‘Dad, does that mean you’re not coaching the Wildcats anymore?’, and I guess walking out into the front of the Red Army, that’s a special privilege.”
Wildcats chief executive Troy Georgiu said the process of appointing a new coach would begin imminently.
“It starts tomorrow,” Mr Georgiu said.
“Today’s all about celebrating Trev’s successes with the club and just letting that wash over everyone, it’s been a legacy that he’s going to leave — and a fantastic one at that — so today’s all about Trev.
“But from then we’ll move on and start creating a process and plan. And Trev’s offered his services already to try and help with that process as well.
“So no doubt it’ll be day one tomorrow and we’ll get cracking on that straight away.”
Martin, Hire reflect on coach’s career
Former Wildcats player Greg Hire said he was shocked at the news but understood Gleeson’s decision.
“A bit shocked, I mean literally when I got the phone call this morning it was a bit of a surprise and … my heart sank for a little bit,” he said.
“We’ve shared some really fine moments together but you only wish for people to achieve their dreams.”
Six-time NBL champion and former Wildcats skipper Damian Martin said Gleeson was deserving of the new opportunity.
“The least I could do is show up and show my support to a coach who will go down as an all-time great in the NBL and hopefully go on to have a long career in the NBA,” he said.
“For him, I’m over the moon, because I know that to get to the NBA is the pinnacle of club sport or league sport around the world.
“He’s deserving of being in the NBA and hopefully he starts as an assistant coach but one day becomes a head coach in the NBA and fulfills that lifelong dream.
“Purely from being a guy who loves the Perth Wildcats he’s a massive loss and trying to replace him is going to be tough.”