Michele Timms on the Boomers-Flyers rivalry and her Hall of Fame nomination
Timms discusses the Boomers-Flyers rivalry, her Hall of Fame nomination, the future of Australian Women’s Basketball and more in this Q&A.
Image credit: Kelly Defina / Getty Images
As one of the longest running clubs in the WNBL, the Melbourne Boomers have a proud history. From their first team in Bulleen in 1984, of which she was a part, to their most recent championship in 2022, Michele Timms has nearly always been around this club.
Now, in their 40th season, Timms will be honoured on Wednesday night as the Boomers take on cross-town rivals, the Southside Flyers.
As has been tradition since 2005, the teams will play for the Michele Timms Cup and this game is particularly important with both teams tied on seven wins currently. It’s a rivalry that always brings out the best in both teams, as we saw in Round 1 and also in that epic Semi-Finals series last season.
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Timms was also recently named as an eligible candidate for the 2024 class of inductees into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Only two Australians have been inducted to the Hoop Hall as it’s affectionately known; Lindsay Gaze and Lauren Jackson. But Timms – along with Penny Taylor and Andrew Gaze (also nominated) – has a chance to increase that membership.
Timms was kind of enough to chat with The Pick and Roll to discuss all of that and more.
It’s a big game on Wednesday night between the Boomers and the Flyers. It’s always fun when these two teams meet, but with the standings across the top 5 so close right now, this game is important for both teams. What have you made of how the two Melbourne clubs are tracking so far this season?
Just look at the whole league; the league’s been surprisingly competitive. I didn’t think it was going to be as competitive as last year, but it’s been super. The Boomers jumped out, then Townsville and now Townsville lost a game to Sydney, the Boomers have lost without Jordin Canada.
They’re in a bit of trouble after losing to Bendigo the other day, which I think they’d be bitterly disappointed about on their home court, so they need to bounce back. They looked really average without Canada’s leadership and her ability just to put the game on her back and get it done.
And Southside have been a bit up and down themselves. I don’t think Southside have found their rhythm yet.
They’re always great games with Southside, no matter where a team is on the ladder, it just happens that they’re close to each other now. But there’s no love lost between these two clubs, that’s for sure. So, whenever they come out it’s always entertaining.
You’ve [also] got a lot of player movement between the two clubs this year, so it’ll be spicy like the first one.
Some have said these teams dislike each other. Do you see it that way, or just part of that cross-town rivalry?
I think I’m too-far removed to have any inside knowledge on that. I think it’s just when they play each other; it doesn’t matter who’s in it.
Even if they’re best mates on opposing teams, for the entirety of the game, they don’t like each other.
Kristy Wallace was hoping to make her season debut in this one, but that is now delayed. When she does return and is playing alongside Jordin Canada, how much will she help the Boomers, especially once she’s ramped up and back to her best?
I think it’s going to be good for both of them because either one of them can run in the point and push the other to the two. So, it’s going to be good for Kristy, I think, to have the ability to work her way back into the league in the two spot for a little bit, if that happens.
And I think it’s good to get Kristy off the point for a while, even though she’s trying to work her craft in that like she did last year, playing the bulk of the minutes there. It’s a pity she’s been injured all season so far, because I think it’s going to be great for her game’s improvement to be able to run the point when she needs to and then slide into the two spot, where you’re probably a little less cerebral and just play.
But, I tell you who I’ve been pretty impressed with, is young [Monique] Conti. I think she’s having her best season of basketball that she’s had in a number of years. While Kristy’s been out, I think she’s done a really good job for the Boomers when she came back from the footy season.
She looks great. She’s always in shape, but just looks springy in her step and I’m really enjoying watching her play for the Boomers this year.
The Boomers’ play has been inconsistent, as can be said for a number of teams this season. Aside from the injuries and absences they’ve suffered, what do you put that down to?
I was a bit disappointed when Jordin was out for four games that they dropped all but one, [and] that they fell apart so quickly. I thought they had enough in that group to hold it together while she was out. But I just think it’s a competitive league.
I [actually] thought they would take longer to gel, so I was really surprised how many early wins they got, because I thought they’d struggle early on and then come home strong. They won their first five games, so that surprised me more than their inconsistency. I think maybe they’re probably where I thought they’d be win-loss wise, if they’d got off to the start I thought they were going to have.
Some games, for me, they haven’t been able to match the intensity of the opposition, but that was more when Jordin was out, when they didn’t have their point guard. But I think they’ve got the team that’s capable of taking it to anyone in the league this year – and they’ve shown that. They just need to play every moment.
Your old Opals teammate and friend Lauren Jackson is going around again this season and still productive. She’s hoping to push for a spot in Paris later this year too. What’s your take on what LJ has been able to do since her comeback?
The first twelve months [of her] comeback was pretty impressive, I thought. And I kind of thought that was the full stop. Then to hear that she was coming back again and just seeing the shape she was in; she’s in great shape and I guess she figured ‘why the heck not?’, which is fair enough I’d say.
I’ll be interested to see how the selection goes [for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next month in Brazil], whether they take her or not. That’s going to be really interesting.
So good on her. Who knows how the selection will go, but she’s giving it a red-hot poke. She’s in better shape now than she was then. It’s impressive.
Back to Wednesday night and as is tradition, the teams will be playing for the Michele Timms Cup, which gives a little extra meaning to these games in terms of bragging rights. But you will also be honoured at the game as part of the Boomers 40th Season celebrations. How does it make you feel to have honours like those and have your legacy in the sport carried on?
It’s humbling. I think the Melbourne Boomers have got a great initiative happening this season, with acknowledging so many players and coaches that have had so much to do with the club; acknowledging the history and legacy of those that went before. So, that’s been fantastic. And it’s really nice to be included in that group celebrating the 40 years.
And the Michele Timms Cup, I‘m really proud of that. For both clubs to want to continue to do that each year, I feel very honoured to have that named after me. Especially because when it originally came in it was Dandenong [Rangers] and Bulleen [Boomers] and I felt a bit uncomfortable because I hadn’t really played for Dandenong.
That aside though, it blows me away that they came up with the Michele Timms Cup and they’ve continued it on. They could have easily moved it on. But it’s something that I’m really honoured to have each year.
Congratulations also on being named as an eligible candidate for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. What does that recognition, along with two Aussie greats in Penny Taylor and Andrew Gaze, mean to you?
Obviously, it’s a huge honour. You know, like pinch yourself to think that you’re even being nominated. Just having a nomination is huge.
I’m going to go to bat big time for Penny and Drewy, because Penny has done just amazing things and she kind of goes under the radar a little bit, because she doesn’t live in Australia. So, she probably doesn’t get as much credit as she should when we talk about absolute legends of the game and what people have done for the game.
I don’t need to tell you about her history, but winning a gold medal, getting the MVP of that gold-medal game at the  World Championship, WNBA championships; she’s done a lot more than I did in my career, that’s for sure.
And I’d really love also to see Drewy in there with his Dad. I think that would be really sweet.
I’m wrapped to be in their company and I’m wrapped to have a nomination. But I really hope they both make it, because that would be so good.
Finally, as a pioneer of Australian women’s basketball on the international stage, when you look at young stars making their way in the WNBA in the likes of Ezi Magbegor, Alanna Smith, Jade Melbourne and Kristy Wallace, plus the next wave including Georgia Amoore, Shaneice Swain, Nyadiew Puoch and Izzy Borlase, how bright is the future of Australian women’s basketball in your eyes?
Very bright. There’s a cast of those kids who could make the national team right now, so it’s really exciting. Amoore’s fantastic. I haven’t seen a lot of her, but I’ve heard a lot about her and seen the stats. But Izzy Borlase for me, she’s the real deal too. She’s an international hooper as well. And as you say, Puoch is coming through. There’s a heap of young kids who are making it really exciting about the future of the game.
And you mix that in with someone like [Alanna] Smith and she’s making her way back into the Opals team and she’s not that old. So, we’ve got a future and then Ezi who’s young as well. We’ve got a really exciting young group that should give us some sustainable success.
That excites me that we can go to work with those young kids so early too. There’ll probably be one or two of them that will make the National team for the Olympics and then you throw Jade Melbourne in there too, I know she’s already in the WNBA, but she’s young as well.
So, it’s super exciting for Australian Basketball.
Thanks Timmsy. Appreciate your time as always.
The Melbourne Boomers host the Southside Flyers at 6pm AEDT on Wednesday 3 January.
This story is supported by the WNBL. Visit the official WNBL website at wnbl.basketball for all the latest news and ticketing details.