The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans have confirmed that Mark Worthington will officially retire at the conclusion of the 2016/17 NBL season.
Worthington will hang up his basketball boots after playing for 12 years across five different NBL clubs – the Sydney Kings, South Dragons, Melbourne Tigers, Gold Coast Blaze and finally, the Cairns Taipans.
Despite speculation that his injury status and fitness would ultimately determine the timeline, Worthington made the personal decision well ahead of this season – a decision he confided with the club and his teammates until now.
The club were prepared to announce his retirement with the appropriate formalities in the coming weeks, however the 33-year old informed the club just prior to tip-off on Sunday that “it felt like the right time.”
“Wortho” suited up for the 327th time with an important 85-79 win over the Illawarra Hawks, putting up five points and five assists with his WA-based parents Treena and Greg, wife Andrea and sons Taz and Axel in the building.
Coincidentally, Worthington made his NBL debut against the Hawks, scoring 16 points and six rebounds for the Sydney Kings in a 85-83 win at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on September 10, 2005. He was later named the 2006 NBL Rookie of the Year.
Wortho continued to collect accolades throughout his career – picking up four All-NBL First Team selections in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, a Grand Final runner-up in 2006 and 2008, a 2009 Championship with the South Dragons, to go with countless club awards.
He also had a successful stint in Europe in 2010, winning a title in Germany, but he made his name synonymous with Australian basketball thanks to his representation on the international scale.
Wortho earned several Boomers call-ups; including two Olympic campaigns (2008 and 2012) two FIBA World Championships (2006 and 2010) and he brought home a Gold Medal from the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Now, he comes full circle to conclude his career in Cairns.
Wortho originally started his basketball journey with the Taipans – as a 17-year old development player in 2000 – and didn’t return until 2015 when he signed a two-year deal.
During his short tenure (just 48 games) Wortho has been integral to the club as a vocal leader on the floor, a role model in the team and an experienced mentor to various levels of local Cairns Basketball.
His second season with the Snakes has seen him in outstanding form, playing arguably some of his best basketball of recent years, where he leads the team in both rebounds (4.5) and assists (3.7) – the best assist average in his career, in spite of ongoing injuries.
Always the overachiever, Wortho also unknowingly managed another career achievement on the day he announced his retirement, breaking the all-time NBL free throw record for a regular season.
His 3-from-3 from the charity stripe made up his season total of 72-from-77 (93.50 per cent) – the best by any player in NBL history from a minimum of 50 attempts in a season.
Special presentations are planned for his last home game (Thursday 9 February, Cairns Convention Centre) and his last regular season game in Adelaide (Saturday 11 February, Titanium Security Arena).