Inside Rachael Sporn’s decision to unretire her jersey, and hand it on to one of the league’s brightest young stars.
The Pick and Roll can reveal the Adelaide Lightning's unprecedented move to unretire Sporn's iconic number 14, and pass it on to Izzy Borlase. This is why.
Picture Credit: Snap Shot Photography/Emma Hoppo
Here’s a question: Is there a pre-requisite to retiring someone’s number? The gesture is considered amongst the most prestigious honours in sports, but is there a science as to what exactly one needs to achieve to reach that goal?
Let’s discuss. Firstly, and above all else, a player generally needs to be successful, both individually and as part of a team. Often, at least one championship (maybe more) is a requirement, as well as a resume full of individual accolades. Did they win an MVP? How many All-Star selections? Then you need to factor in personality. Was this player popular with fans? Were they likable? Did they stay out of trouble? Their relationship with management and the fanbase is crucial. Then there’s legacy. How did they fare in big moments – did they rise to the occasion, or wilt under pressure? Longevity’s important too. Should we say ten seasons, or at least three quarters of their career needs to be with the same team? Did they stick around during the hard times, or chase money? Context matters too. Did they connect with fans, and embody the values of the city?
You can make your own judgements on what’s important, but with this in mind, you’d be hard pressed to find a more deserving player to have their number retired than Rachael Sporn. With the Lightning, she was a generational talent in the league’s infancy. Four championships, two league MVPs, two Finals MVPs, before the league named the Grand Final MVP named after her. She remains a beloved figure in Adelaide’s sporting landscape, you’d be hard pressed to find someone with a bad word to say about her, and was instrumental in saving the club from folding in 2019. All up, Sporn’s the model candidate to have her number retired – so why is she unretiring it?
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