ENDIGO (FIBA World Championship for Women/Olympics) - Australia’s long-time point guard Kristi Harrower is retiring as a player.
The 39-year-old, the starting playmaker for the Aussies in their title-winning side at the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women, is 16 weeks pregnant.
The 1.66m guard will suit up for the last time this weekend for the Bendigo Spirit.
Harrower had a long and successful professional career which saw her compete in the WNBA, Europe and Australia.
Her terrific run with the Opals is what she’ll best be remembered for.
Harrower started playing for the senior team at the 1998 FIBA World Championship for Women in Germany and continued to do so through to the 2012 London Olympics.
She is signing off as a winner because Harrower was a lynchpin in the Bendigo sides that captured the last two WNBL crowns Down Under.
"I knew this season was going to be my last and I wish that I could play out the remainder of the season and help the girls push for a three-peat, but I know that retiring now is the right thing to do for my body and the baby," Harrower said at a press conference.
"I'll definitely sit on the bench as a player [this weekend] but it's definitely my last game ... I don't even know if I can run up and down the floor now."
Harrower’s father, Bernie, the coach of Bendigo, says his daughter is going to be remembered as one of the all-time greats.
"She's a legend of the game," he said.
"She'll go down in history as arguably the best ever point guard the country has produced.
"There's very few people in world sport that make people around them better, and for me, Kristi is one of those players."
Harrower had a reputation for being a tough-as-nails player that played suffocating defense.
She was able to hurt opponents with her offense as well, be it with long three-pointers or drives to the basket.
Harrower was a coach’s dream mainly because of her leadership and tenacity, and willingness to dive on the floor or out of bounds to get loose balls.
She was relentless.
Harrower’s finest hour came in 2006, when she marshaled the Opals forward and helped them capture the world title in Brazil.
At the event, Harrower averaged 11.1 points, 3.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds per game in just over 29 minutes per game.
The current coach of the Australia Opals, Brendan Joyce, was among those to pay tribute to Harrower.