Mark Davis (basketball, born 1960)

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Mark Davis
MD Profile.jpg
Personal information
Born (1960-12-23) December 23, 1960 (age 58)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
NationalityAmerican / Australian
Listed height202 cm (6 ft 8 in)
Listed weight95 kg (209 lb)
Career information
CollegeSt. Augustine's (1981–1983)
Playing career1984–2002
PositionPower forward
Career history
1984–1985Dorados de Chihuahua
1985–2002South Adelaide Panthers
1985–2001Adelaide 36ers
1987Long Island Knights
Career highlights and awards

Mark Davis (born December 23, 1960) is an American-Australian former professional basketball player who played in National Basketball League for the Adelaide 36ers between 1985 and 2001, gaining the nickname of "The Chairman of the Boards" for his record-breaking rebounding achievements.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Davis became an Australian citizen in 1992.

College career[edit]

Davis played college basketball for St. Augustine's. In 1982–83, he averaged 20.5 points per game.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Davis' first professional gig came in 1984, playing for Hamilton in the New Zealand NBL. There, he was named rebounding champion,[2] he then spent the 1984–85 season playing in Mexico for Dorados de Chihuahua where he helped the team win the championship.[3]

In 1985, Davis moved to Adelaide where he joined both the South Adelaide Panthers of the SA State League and the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League. According to long time 36ers and Panthers teammate Scott Ninnis, Davis was actually the Panthers 2nd choice and was only recruited to the club after 6'9" (205 cm) American centre Bill Coon left after just 4 days in Adelaide. Ninnis also told that after "scoring some healthy points" in his first game for Souths, Davis was actually ejected from the game before half-time leaving the club wondering what they had come across.[4]

Davis then came to the attention of 36ers' coach Ken Cole after dominating performances for the Panthers, and just five games into the 1985 NBL season, Davis was signed by the NBL club and made an immediate impact, forming the league's leading front-court combination with Moscow Olympian Peter Ali, and fellow import, 6'9" (206 cm) centre Bill Jones. Davis made his NBL debut for Adelaide on 4 May 1985 in a Round 4 clash with the Bankstown Bruins at the Apollo Stadium in Adelaide, he showed he would be a player to be reckoned with by top scoring for the home side with 32 points while grabbing 14 rebounds in a 117–110 Adelaide win. Although he only played in 22 games for the 36ers during 1985, Davis won the club's MVP award after averaging 27.9 points, 17.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He scored a season-high 42 points (which would remain the 36ers single game record until beaten by Darryl Pearce with a 48-point game in 1988) in Adelaide's 144–112 win over St Kilda in Melbourne, while his season-high rebound game was again at home against the Canberra Cannons when he pulled down 29 boards, just two shy of the 36ers record of 31 held by Dan Clausen; the 36ers, including guards Al Green, Darryl Pearce and Mike McKay, made its first Grand Final appearance that season against the Brisbane Bullets. After a record 151–103 semi-final win over Newcastle, Adelaide were the favourite heading into the game at the Sleeman Sports Centre in Brisbane, but the team suffered a shock 125–90 loss to a Bullets team coached by Brian Kerle and featuring future NBL Hall of Famers Leroy Loggins, Cal Bruton, Larry Sengstock, Danny Morseu and "The Rat" Ron Radliff.

By the start of the 1986 NBL season, Davis was already regarded as the premier power forward in the country, and with a team leading 25.3 points and 16.1 rebounds per game, led the 36ers to their second straight Grand Final in 1986 on a back of a 24–2 record (including going 13–0 at the Apollo Stadium). Davis went on to lead the 36ers to the championship in three games over the Bullets in the NBL's inaugural Grand Final series (from 1979–1985, all GF's were a single game), winning the NBL's inaugural Grand Final MVP award in the process. Although he was a Power forward, Davis was named at Centre in the All-NBL First Team for 1986, the first of 5 times he was named to the All NBL team.

Following the 36ers championship win over Brisbane, Davis spent the off-season playing for the Long Island Knights in the United States Basketball League (USBL) before returning to Adelaide for the start of the 1987 NBL season.

Ken Cole was sacked as coach following the 1986 championship and in his place came Gary Fox. Despite the change of coach, Davis' great form continued 1987 and he was rewarded when he was named joint NBL Most Valuable Player with Brisbane's Leroy Loggins (as of the end of the 2015–16 NBL season, Davis remains the only 36er to win the league's highest individual award), while also gaining All-NBL First Team honours. Davis averaged 26.1 points and 17.5 rebounds in his MVP season and 1987 saw the 36ers finish the regular season in first place, but the defending champions were upset in a three-game semi-final series against the emerging Perth Wildcats. The season was also the first year that Davis led the league in total rebounding, an achievement he would repeat in 1992.

1987 also saw the start of the [friendly] rivalry between Davis and Perth Wildcats' big man, the "Alabama Slamma" James Crawford. Both were import players (until Davis became an Australian citizen), and friends off the court. Davis and Crawford electrified the crowds at the Apollo Stadium or Clipsal Powerhouse in Adelaide and the Superdome and Entertainment Centre in Perth, as well as other venues around Australia with their spectacular dunks, general athleticism and rebounding with each often the dominant player on their respective teams. On "The Golden Era" DVD about the Adelaide 36ers in the 1980s, Davis said of Crawford that "He made so many cats into poster child's with his dunks" and that whenever he played against Crawford his main goal other than winning the game was not to get dunked on by JC.

Early in his NBL career, Davis, known as "Pud" to his teammates, was given the nickname 'Chairman of the Boards' because of his dominance at rebounding, and in 1990 he was named captain of the 36ers by new coach (and long time 36ers assistant coach) Don Shipway. 1990 would also be the first time since 1983 that the 36ers would miss the NBL Finals. With Davis leading the way, along with new point guard Butch Hays, 6'10" (208 cm) centres Mark Bradtke and Brett Wheeler and guards Darryl Pearce and Mike McKay, the 36ers returned to the playoffs in 1991 but were bundled out in the Semi-finals by the Perth Wildcats.

In 1992, Davis and the 36ers had a new home. Previously the team had played in the intimate (and intimidating for opposition teams), 3,000 seat Apollo Stadium. With ticket demand more than twice what Apollo could hold, the 36ers moved into the then new, 8,000 seat Clipsal Powerhouse, although the team again missed the playoffs in 1992. Under new coach Don Monson in 1993, returned to playoff action, though they lost their Elimination final series to the defending champion South East Melbourne Magic.

Under another new coach Mike Dunlap, the 36ers won a place in the 1994 Grand Final series against the North Melbourne Giants, though Davis' impact was limited after suffering a dislocated shoulder in Game 1 of Adelaide's Semi-finals series sweep of the reigning NBL champion Melbourne Tigers. In the 3rd period of the game, Davis had grabbed a defensive rebound and as he prepared to throw a long pass for a fast break, Tigers forward Dave Simmons attempted to swat the ball away but collected his right arm instead, instantly dislocating his shoulder. With the team missing his scoring and rebounding (he averaged 21.7 points and 12.9 rebounds in the regular season and had averaged 16.5 points and 11.3 rebounds in the playoffs), the 36ers produced a hard-fought win in Game 2 in Melbourne. Davis underwent intense physio treatment in order to be ready for the Grand Final series against the Giants and did return to the side for the series, but ultimately the 36ers were swept in two games. 1994 would also be the first time that the name Mark Davis would not appear on the club's MVP award as new recruit (and the reigning NBL MVP from 1993) Robert Rose won the award. To that point Davis had won every 36ers Club MVP award since 1985.

Davis remained captain of the 36ers until the end of 1996 when he was replaced by Australian Boomers representative Brett Maher, he went on to win two more NBL championships (now as a sixth man) in 1998 and 1998–99. On 13 December 1999, in a 90–74 win over the Brisbane Bullets, Davis grabbed his 5,000th NBL rebound, becoming the first NBL player to reach the mark. Davis' rebounding record of 5,200 was broken by former 36ers teammate Mark Bradtke on 21 November 2003 in Adelaide, with Davis on hand to present Bradtke with the match ball.

Davis is the 36ers' all-time leader in free throws made (2,037), free throws attempted (2,888), rebounds (5,200), and blocked shots (301).

Davis also continued to play for the South Adelaide Panthers during his time with the 36ers, he won five championships with the Panthers and a record five Woollacott Medals.[5]

National team career[edit]

After becoming an Australian citizen in 1992 and serving the FIBA required 3-year residency period, Davis was selected to play for the Australian Boomers in 1995, playing in the opening three games of a five-game series against the Magic Johnson All-Stars. Davis made his Boomers debut at home in Adelaide against the All-Stars on 7 March 1995.[6]

Retirement and basketball camp[edit]

Davis continues to call Adelaide home following his retirement and started up the "Mark Davis Basketball Camp" in 2004. Davis himself gives expert coaching with help from various past and present NBL/NBA players including Willie Simmons and Butch Hays, as well as personnel from the Adelaide Lightning and various Paralympians.[3]

Honours and Accolades[edit]

Bronze bust of Mark Davis on display at the Titanium Security Arena, home of the Adelaide 36ers.

Davis is honoured as one of only four players to have their number retired by the Adelaide 36ers, his #33 jersey hangs in the rafters of Adelaide Arena, alongside #4 Darryl Pearce, #5 Brett Maher and #15 Al Green. Maher, who replaced Davis as 36ers captain in 1997 when Davis' career was winding down and his role changed from being a starter to the team's sixth man, also played his entire NBL career with the Adelaide 36ers. Just inside the main entrance to the Adelaide Arena, a bronze bust of Davis sits in place underneath a plaque giving a bio of Davis' achievements with the 36ers (pictured right).

The Adelaide 36ers club MVP award is named the Mark Davis Trophy in his honour. Davis was the first winner of the award in 1985 and won the award nine times conclusively up to and including 1993. Davis is also the only 36ers player to have won the NBL's MVP award. Davis (1986, 1998 and 1999), Brett Maher, Paul Rees, Rupert Sapwell and Jason Williams (all 1998, 1999 and 2002) are the only players to have won three or more NBL championships with the 36ers, while Davis (1986), Kevin Brooks (1998) and Brett Maher (1999 and 2002) are the only 36ers to win the Grand Final MVP award. Davis was also named in the NBL's 20th Anniversary Team in 1998 and its 25th Anniversary Team in 2003.

Davis was inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 for his services to the NBL.[7]

The chairman of the boards! I just marvelled at him and his offensive abilities off the glass. Throughout his time with the Adelaide 36ers, sometimes their best offence was the second shot, because they could just throw it up there and they had Mark Davis to go and get it; the thing about it, is that he was a big guy and a really good athlete, but he wasn't tall for someone who was so prolific on the boards. Just another one who came in a generation where he was setting the tone for others, and he was just an incredible competitor who did some tremendous things.

— Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze talking about Mark Davis in 2015.[8]

In March 2015, Davis' #33 was also retired by his local Adelaide club, the South Adelaide Panthers who he joined in 1985 and with whom he won the SA State League championship in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1995 and 1997 as winning a record 5 Woollacott Medals as the fairest and most brilliant player in South Australia, his number was retired along with the #8 of fellow Australian Basketball Hall of Fame member Michael Ah Matt, and the #9 of long time 36ers and Panthers championship winning teammate Scott Ninnis.[9]

In November 2015 in an online poll conducted by Adelaide's daily newspaper The Advertiser, Davis was selected at Power forward in the fans choice for the Adelaide 36ers best ever team. Davis polled the most votes from the fans (83.28%) for any position. The fans choice team was Mark Bradtke (centre), Davis (PF), Robert Rose (Small forward), Brett Maher (shooting guard) and Darnell Mee (Point guard), Phil Smyth (coach).[10]

SA State League Honour roll[edit]

Team: South Adelaide Panthers
Career: 1985–2002
Grand Final appearances: 5 (1987, 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997)
Championships: 5 (1987, 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997)
Woollacott Medalist: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992

NBL Honour roll[edit]

NBL career: 1985–2001
Adelaide 36ers MVP: 9 (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993)
NBL Grand Final appearances: 5 (1985, 1986, 1994, 1998, 1998/99)
NBL Championships: 3 (1986, 1998, 1998/99)
NBL Grand Final MVP: 1986
NBL Most Valuable Player: 1987
All-NBL First Team: 4 (1987, 1988, 1989, 1991)
NBL All-Star Game: 8 (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
NBL All-Star Game MVP: 1991
NBL 20th Anniversary Team: 1998
NBL 25th Anniversary Team: 2003

NBL career stats[edit]

Games: 482
Rebounds: 5,200 (3,221 def; 1,979 off – 10.8 pg – All-time 2nd)
Points: 8,752 (18.2 pg)
Free Throws: 2,037 / 2,888 (70.5%)
Field Goals: 3,235 / 6,664 (48.5%)
3 Points: 245 / 791 (31.0%)
Steals: 481 (1.0 pg)
Assists: 818 (1.7 pg)
Blocked Shots: 301 (0.6 pg)


  1. ^ SAU All-Time Leading Scorers
  2. ^ "2005 League Handbook" (PDF). p. 35. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 24, 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b Mark Davis Basketball Camp – About
  4. ^ Our Sporting Life - Scott Ninnis
  5. ^ South Adelaide Panthers retire Michael Ahmatt’s #8, Scott Ninnis’ #9 and Mark Davis’ #33 uniform numbers
  6. ^ 1995 Australian Boomers vs Magic Johnson's All Stars - Adelaide
  7. ^ Four inducted into NBL Hall of Fame
  8. ^ Andrew Gaze responds to ‘The Hammer’ and selects his own top 10 NBL imports of all time
  9. ^ South Adelaide Panthers retire Michael Ahmatt's #8, Scott Ninnis' #9 and Mark Davis' #33 uniform numbers
  10. ^ Green-Pearce are 36ers icons but are they the best? Take our online poll

External links[edit]