Kevin Braswell delivers on promises at Sharks
During his time in Southland, Kevin Braswell has been known for making some bold statements and predictions.
Without wanting to offend our American friends, Braswell is like many Americans - in particular in the sporting arena. The Southland Sharks basketballer oozes confidence and doesn't mind expressing it vocally.
It is a demeanour that stands out in a place like Southland, where there is a lot of heads down, hands in pockets and stone-kicking rather than loudly voicing any confidence.
But whether or not Braswell is a fish out of water in his adopted province, there is one aspect few can not argue with - that is, when he dishes up those bold statements and predictions, he does deliver on them.
I've written many pre-game stories that have been based on Braswell stepping up to the occasion, and rarely has he not followed it up positively.
On Sunday night, he delivered once again.
It was Braswell's 50th game for the Southland Sharks - against Taranaki - which on its own made for a big night.
Added to that was the fact the Sharks had been under fire last week and he was desperate to deliver on the court for his depleted team.
If Southland was going to win this game, Braswell was going to need a big night and do a lot of the scoring.
What he finished with was a National Basketball League record 45 points in one game. He attacked the basket so much he drew 13 fouls and scored 20 of his 22 shots at the free-throw line.
During his record-breaking haul, he scored his 1000th point for the Southland Sharks and, in true Braswell style, he did it all with a controversial twist.
The 35-year-old scored that NBL record wearing singlet No 16 rather than his regular No 12.
It was no mixup - singlet No 16 was that of his good mate Leon Henry.
Henry was one of the three Sharks players watching from the sidelines after being suspended after the incident in New Plymouth.
Some may suggest the move was in bad taste, given how the Taranaki people feel about the incident, but for Braswell it was an acknowledgment of his support for his team-mates no matter what had unfolded.
Coach Paul Henare said he was as surprised as anyone to see Braswell in Henry's singlet and said it showed how tight the Sharks group was despite the off-court drama.
"It was a surprise to me; I think it was one of those signs of respect for a fellow brother and, you know what KB is like, he is loyal through and through. Everyone is feeling it, but it was pretty cool, I think. It took Leon by surprise and I'm pretty sure he's remember that for a long time."
Henare paid tribute to what Braswell produced on Sunday night in a time of need.
"I was having a chat with him in the locker room and he said to me, ‘I never feel like I have anything to prove any more' but every game day he said he still wants to prove something. He faces these challenges head-on; he's just one of the toughest customers I've ever come across in so many ways."
- The Southland Times