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Basketball SA Hall of Fame Inductee: Boti Nagy

Congratulations… Boti Nagy

Boti Nagy was born into a Hungarian migrant family that fled Europe post-World War II for a better life. Australia promised and delivered. Boti unobtrusively became the best known of the illustrious ‘Nagy Brothers’ who dominated SA basketball during the 60s and early 70s.

Unlike his award-winning siblings, Boti became more famous (or infamous) as the most driven basketball journalist Australia has seen. His first 16 years as sports reporter for The News newspaper were writing stories in his own time and without pay. Such was his passion to deliver at least one basketball story in the newspaper each day that any day when he couldn’t deliver this he viewed as a failure.

However, the Boti Nagy basketball story does not begin and end with his role in the media, but actually covers just about all areas of the sport.

Boti has been a player, coach, referee, club president, administrator and innovator who was even a playing-coach of Budapest’s Under 12s in 1966. Believing that playing the game was an important upgrade on one training a week, he encouraged his teammates to play 3-on-3 basketball each Saturday afternoon after their morning game.

Everyone played and everyone refereed and it was in this competition Boti’s match report writing developed. He typed weekly match reports on his Remington typewriter and yellow paper, (including carbon copies for players to share), mimicking the yellow sheet provided for the District competition at Forestville each Thursday night.

Had Boti ‘patented’ the 3×3 game, he could have made a fortune. His experience in 3×3 definitely helped his selection as a member of the SA District Under-12 teams which competed against Victoria in Adelaide and Melbourne in 1966 and 1967.

Boti’s playing career, which included state representation at the inaugural Australian Under-20 men’s championship in Brisbane in 1974, ended prematurely through a knee injury sustained one Thursday night in District basketball at Apollo Stadium.  He played three seasons at the District level for Norwood and Adelaide, as well as a season for North Adelaide in the Reserves competition.

As a senior coach, he had the helm of women’s teams in the District competition, most notably Adelaide Giants (which became Adelaide Southern Suns) from 1978-1981 inclusive, then competed in the finals in all five years that he coached Sturt (1984-88). 

He took Norwood Flames into Division 1 and on to the finals in 1990, then coached Adelaide Southern Suns (became Southern Tigers) from 1993-1995 and again in 2000, making finals in 1993 and 2000.

As Sturt’s SEABL women’s coach from 1986-1988, he led them to interstate finals in 1986 and 1987. In 2019, he returned West Adelaide Bearcats to the Premier League finals.

As Premier League Assistant Coach with Forestville Eagles, he was part of the 2001 Championship and with South Adelaide Panthers part of the finals series in 2015 and 2016.

Boti has coached every Division 1 level of junior basketball, from under-10 to under-23 and took Forestville to Under-14 Nationals in 2006, reaching the semi finals.

He was named Club Coach of the Year (Females) at Forestville in 2006 and at Southern in 2009 and 2010, was a member of the NBL Games Rules Committee in 2000, is a five-time Basketball Australia Hall of Fame nominee. He was instrumental in brokering the merger of Adelaide Giants and Southern Districts Cobras clubs to form Adelaide Southern Suns.

As a dedicated basketball writer for News Corp for 43 years, he won multiple awards and is a ten-time Basketball Writer of the Year of the NBL and WNBL.

As an administrator, Boti served as BASA’s Development Manager and a member of the BASA Senior Competition Committee, responsible for restructuring of the senior basketball program in SA with the formation of the Australian Basketball Association Central Conference competition.

He also was responsible for the formation of a country league, the Southern Conference Big 8 (originally Big 6) which featured teams from Mannum (Adelaide River Redbacks), Murray Bridge, Eastern Hills, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Millicent and Riverland.

Best known though as Australia’s premier basketball writer and a custodian of the sport’s rich history, Boti was notable for always calling it as he saw it and a a champion for the promotion of both the men’s and women’s games.

Inheriting the role from contributing writer and Hall of Famer Frank Angove, Boti’s goal was to have basketball viewed as a major sport and for his weekly ‘Around the NBL’ column to be sought as highly as Frank’s original ‘Basket Hanging’ column was in Saturday editions of The News. 

Boti’s 1989 book ‘High Flyers-Women’s Basketball in Australia’ brought the women’s game into sharp focus and in 2008 he penned the Brett Maher biography ‘Mahervellous: The Brett Maher Story’.

As the only writer to witness the birth (and demise) of every NBL and WNBL team, he inhabits a unique position in our game.

Boti’s induction into the Basketball SA Hall of Fame is a worthy recognition of his contribution to basketball.