For Whistler golf pro Alan Kristmanson, last Saturday was a dribble down memory lane. A member of Canada’s Olympic basketball team, as well as a former coach and commentator for the Vancouver Grizzlies, Kristmanson was inducted into the B.C. Basketball Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Saturday night, along with nine other individuals and one team.
“It was an awesome experience, a lot of my old coaches were there and some of my ex-teammates from the Olympics were there,” he said. “It was quite an honour, and I was thrilled to be part of it.”
Kristmanson learned to play in Ladner, taking his small high school team to the provincial championships in 1979. He played university basketball at Simon Fraser University from 1980 to 1984, then moved to New Zealand to coach in 1986.
In 1987 the tall forward was named to the Canadian team, and Kristmanson was one of the stars of the Canadian team at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, Korea, where the Canadian team placed sixth and nearly upset the top-ranked U.S. team. At halftime the Canadians were up 42-40, and kept pace until the end when the U.S. team rallied with three-pointers to pull ahead. Kristmanson led the team with 25 points in that game.
Many of his teammates from that era are still coaching, and one player — Jay Triano — is the assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors.
While golf is his sport now, Kristmanson has never really left the game.
“I definitely miss it,” he said. “But I’ve got young kids now, and I’ve coached at the university level, and when my kids get older I’m looking forward to getting back into coaching.
“I absolutely miss being around it, but then I think I’d miss being in Whistler and enjoying all the things I enjoy doing that I couldn’t do when I was in basketball all those years.”
Kirstmanson says B.C. has a rich history in basketball. At last Saturday’s ceremony he sat near a woman who was 98 and played on the national team in 1929.
“It was a lot of fun talking to her, and all the others who played back in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s when winter basketball in B.C. was a really big deal,” he said. “I know that everybody I talked to is excited that the winter Olympics are coming to Vancouver and Whistler, and they all plan to help out as volunteers.”
Kristmanson says it’s nice to see youth basketball back on the upswing in the province, thanks largely to the Steve Nash Youth Basketball program started by the NBA star.
“Steve and I have talked a few times about how lucky we were as kids to have great coaching, and we both feel pretty strongly about junior basketball,” said Kristmanson. “He’s helping out and has gotten Basketball B.C. involved, and it’s just an amazing program. Obviously it helps that he is someone that the kids of this generation can look up to, and that he’s a great guy, very level headed. You’d never know Steve is who he is when you talk to him personally, and he never forgets his roots or where he’s from.”
Kristmanson was inducted alongside athletes Angie Dobie, Bob Hiltjes, Ken McKenzie and Mark Staley, builders Harry Franklin Sr., Jack Pomfret and Stan Stronge, and coaches Joe Kupkee and Gary Taylor. The undefeated 1979-80 University of Victoria men’s basketball team was also inducted.