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What I learnt from Shane Heal

Shane Heal

My guest on Talking with TK this week was none other than my favourite basketballer growing up Shane Heal. I have a huge amount of memories watching Shane either at the King Dome or on Fox Sports, the blond bomber had the deepest 3 point game I’ve ever seen.

His shot was so clean and while he didn’t have the athletic ability of a Michael Jordan or Lebron James, he made up for it in determination and hard play. Who else would be willing to go chest to chest with the likes of Charles Barkley and Vince Carter. Shane never took a back step to any one and it isn’t a surprise to see him so well respected amongst his peers.

From a career that started as a teenager in 1988 with the Brisbane Bullets and finishing 21 year later in 2009 with the Gold Coast Blaze, Shane had an astonishing career which included 2 stints in the NBA, a stint in Europe and he represented Australia at 4 Olympic Games.

My conversation with “The Hammer” had some great stories and performance hacks, to listen to the entire episode click the player below:

These are my key takeaways:


Something that always intrigued me was his nickname “the hammer”. He was an aggressive player on the court who as I mentioned never took a back step from anyone. Shane tells me it came from his youth.


“Well it depends on who you speak to, I've got a few mates that like to take claim for that, I guess the main one is I did a bit of boxing when I was growing up and got into a few scuffles and things like that so they started calling me hammer after a little scuffle we had at some stage as a young silly boy”




After over 20 years in professional sports and at age 46 you could give Shane a break if he totally just wanted to focus on other things. But once a competitor always a competitor which saw Shane try out for Ice Cubes new 3 on 3 competition over in America with a host of former NBA players some in their early 30’s. While he didn’t get drafted, his preparation and willingness to test his body to the limit is quite impressive.

“So I got ready for about 6 weeks and lost about 7 kilos and was working out just like I was as a pro player. It gave me something to work for and went over there for about 10 days, I didn’t end up getting drafted but ended up playing really well, and I was a bit surprised. Before I went over I thought it was a long shot to be drafted, I’m 46, nearly 47 the competition is for over 30’s, so there are some players who are still playing pro basketball in Europe and Asia and everywhere else, so I thought it was a bit of a long shot. But once I got over there and amongst it, I played some really good basketball and knocked down a whole lot of 3’s and hit a buzzer beater and was pretty confident of getting drafted”


Shane knew what he wanted from an early age and told his father as a 12 year just what he wanted, so great takeaway is dare to dream.

“Yeah as a 12 year old, I told him that I wanted to go to the Olympic Games and play for Australia and I was always in the backyard visualising I was playing for Australia and pretending I was playing against the American’s. I was lucky enough to knuckle down and take some chances and live those dreams”





Shane didn’t grow up as the tallest or most athletic kid. How many times as kids do we get told that we aren’t big enough or good enough. But they key, work on what we can control as I learnt from Shane:

“Realising that I was never going to be tall so I knew I was going to have develop it (3 point shot). You get told as a young guy so many times you can’t make it, you’re too small to be able to make it, well that didn't resonate with me because I feel well that doesn’t make sense. I know even if I'm small what about if I'm better shooter, what about if I’m a better competitor or fitter than everyone else or dribble a ball better. So I knew I had to work on those things to be able to make that happen and became a 3 point shooter that could knock them down in games”




Shane had a crazy work ethic that set him apart from his peers and he shared the stories of how he developed his game in the back yard battles against his brother and his mum, while also making the most of his time alone.

“Yeah it was crazy how hard I worked and people tell my parents all the time that I had a crazy work ethic when it came to the sport, but I didn't see it as work, it was just something I loved to do and I was passionate about basketball, it was one of those things basketballs a great sport and you can go and do it alone so I would go play one on one against my brother and he would get sick of it and go inside. Then I would play a game against my mum then I outgrew her, so she started playing defence with a broom to make it harder, then I would spend hours on my own and challenge myself  how many shots I could hit in a row how many shots I can hit from this spot and that spot, then up fakes, then the next dribble,  then step backs, then just kept developing my game and that's something I see missing in Australian basketball now kids are generally not spending enough time making shots”






We all have bad days but it becomes our choice what we do about it. The week before he hit a stunning 61 point individual score in Townsville his coach wasn’t exactly complementary, but he used it as motivation to bring his game to a new level.

“The week before people don't really talk about, I had 5 points I think it was against the Melbourne Magic and I remember Bruce Palmer who was one of our coaches. He was pretty volatile and wasn’t necessarily the greatest bloke to play for and I remember him ripping me to shreds after having a bad game, saying you're too slow and you’re a step slow and I think you have lost it and this and that. I remember being so motivated to come out in that game and have a big one and I think I got 50 and he took me off and Robert Sibley ran up to him and said mate put him back on there is a few minutes to go he’ll get 60 and I think I hit a few more 3’s. I look back and think that was a lot of points, I thought think I threw many assists in that game, but I was feeling good and I think I only took 29 shots for the game”


Sometimes it just isn’t our time. But what defines us is our ability to reflect, go away and improve on the things we might be lacking. Despite his immense talent, even the hammer had to learn not to rush to his goal, learning some valuable lessons along his journey.

“I got cut for the 1990 World Championships, I was one of the last cut and I felt like I was playing well enough to be able to potentially make that team. It didn't happen but end up being a good thing because it made me go away and work harder and understand what it needed to do to become a point guard that was going to play for Australia and then potentially start for Australia. So I went away, 92 was obviously the first Olympics I went to, but I had games leading up to that and tours going overseas. 92 I was probably 12th man and roomed with Andrew Gaze and learnt a lot about what It takes to be a pro and going there made me hungry because I wasn’t getting any court time and I left that tournament thinking it’s great to be here but I really want to make a difference and I want to start Australia and contribute and by 94 I was starting and I was very grateful to get those opportunities.”



The 2002-2003 Sydney Kings finally reversed an underachieving and somewhat losing culture to finally deliver a championship to the town. Sure the team contained stars like Chris Williams, Kavossy Franklin, Matt Neilson & Heal and had an outstanding coach in Brian Goorjian. Shane explains what this group had different from the others.

“We just had a really well balanced team, that got along really well, enjoyed each other’s company off the court and we went hard on and off the court and it was a great memory to be able to get that win”




Shane’s key to success was pretty simple – passion as he explains.

“Some guys just didn’t have the same passion for basketball and you can always tell the people who have passion, you come to training the day after it’s been on TV and sit around talking about the game and you will notice the people who don’t really have the passion, didn’t watch, didn’t care, didn’t even think to even watch the game, and I spoke about Ben Madgen, he watching everything he can because the wants to be the best and get every advantage he can because you learn and you’re into it, to me passion is one of the keys to success, not just basketball, football or sport, it’s in business, it’s in everything you do”



Some great stories and tips from the hammer. Be sure to follow Shane on his journey:

Online –

Twitter –

Instagram –

Check out the entire interview and let me know what you think at


I have conducted 100’s of interviews with some of the most successful people across business, art, sport and fitness on The Vision Board Podcast and also Talking with TK. Be sure to subscribe for free to the show via iTunes, Sound Cloud & Stitcher and please leave us an iTunes review.


Enjoy the show



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