Kelly Wilson to create WNBL history with incredible games record

Kelly Wilson will create WNBL history this week setting an incredible games record that may never be broken.

Kelly Wilson’s fierce competitive streak was born in country Victoria, fostered at the Australian Institute of Sport and has taken her around the WNBL and into the history books.

The 37-year-old point guard will become the first WNBL player to reach 400 games when she suits up for Canberra against Sydney on Wednesday night.

Wilson, from Leongatha in south Gippsland, broke the league games record of 394 two years ago and returned to the court this season after welcoming son Ted in 2021.

“Sometimes my competitiveness is a blessing and a curse, I can be a bit obsessive, but it’s definitely why I’m still playing today and in my 19th season,’’ the four-time champion said.

“I enjoy playing and all I wanted to do was play in the WNBL.

“When I was a kid, I watched it on TV every Saturday afternoon, it’s what I aspired to do and it didn’t seem an achievable goal at the time being a kid from a small country town. I didn’t start playing until a bit later but once I did, I absolutely loved playing.

“Watching Michele Timms, Kristi Harrower, Belinda Snell, who was from Mirboo North a small country town close to Leongatha, they were who I looked up to and it was just awesome.”

Kelly Wilson of the Capitals drives to the basket against Adelaide Lightning last month.
Kelly Wilson of the Capitals drives to the basket against Adelaide Lightning last month.

Wilson attended the AIS before playing for Sydney Flames (43 games) then Townsville (103 games over two stints) Fire.

When Bendigo got the license for a WNBL team in 2007 she had to be a part of it. She’d be a key part of the Spirit’s first championship in 2012-13 and back-to-back title.

“The first Bendigo one was probably the most meaningful (championship) because I’d been with the club for a few years, we’d made finals but always kind of struggled every year,” Wilson explained.

“Bernie and Kristi Harrower (father-daughter coach/captain) had kept the group together, at the

start of the season we weren’t even in the mix, that was a really special group and I look back on those championships and am pretty proud.

“I’ve played half my career for Bendigo (205 games) and that means a lot growing up a country Victorian kid, to be able to go home, Bendigo is home, and play in front of my family was special. I took a lot of pride playing for and representing Bendigo.”

Wilson would add another title this time with Townsville in 2017-18 before joining the Caps the following season where she’d win another championship with former Bendigo teammate and great friend Kelsey Griffin.

She returned to Bendigo and broke the games record in 2019-20 before watching last season’s north Queensland hub competition while pregnant.

The chance to play for dual championship coach Paul Goriss factored in her decision to return in 2021-22.

Goriss is currently serving a suspension for an integrity breach after accepting confidential video clips of opening-round opponent Sydney from referee Simon Cosier that were for referee education purposes.

Kelly Wilson drives to the basket playing for Bendigo Spirit in a clash with Adelaide in 2014.
Kelly Wilson drives to the basket playing for Bendigo Spirit in a clash with Adelaide in 2014.

Wednesday will also mark the first time the two sides have met since the “cheating” scandal erupted two weeks ago.

Goriss won’t be courtside, but Wilson supports the coach as a reason she returned to basketball.

“There were a number of reasons why I decided to play again this season and playing for ‘Gorrie’ again was a big one,” she said.

“I’ve played for, and against, many coaches over the years and he is someone I have the upmost respect for. He has our full support and we’re looking forward to him returning in a few weeks.”

It’s those personal relationships which mean the most.

“The championships aren’t the highlight, it’s the people I’ve played with and against, the coaches I’ve got been able to play for and the connections I’ve made throughout my career. That’s honestly the highlight for me,” Wilson said.

“Someone like Gabe Richards, we met playing under-14’s for Vic Country, played in WNBL

championships and are still great mates today. I moved to Canberra, twice, to play with Kelsey Griffin.

“Obviously I want to win basketball games but it’s more than that.”

Kelly Wilson (ball) playing for the AIS against Melbourne Bulleen in a WNBL game in 2012.
Kelly Wilson (ball) playing for the AIS against Melbourne Bulleen in a WNBL game in 2012.

WNBL games

- Kelly Wilson 400

- Jess Bibby 394

- Rachael Sporn, Lucille Bailie 377

- Karen Dalton 375

- Kristen Veal 372

Brendan Bradford
Brendan BradfordContent producer

Brendan Bradford is a sports writer for CODE Sports. He primarily covers combat sports, league, union, cycling and athletics. Brendan has worked in sports media for a decade, covering world title fights, World Cups, Grand Slams and Spring Tours.

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