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Globe-trotting Becker enters basketball Hall

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When Dan Becker coaches young basketball players, one of his strongest messages is to set lofty goals and not to sell themselves short.

Looking back at his own basketball career — which would be considered a smashing success by nearly any measure — leaves Becker wondering if he should have dreamed of even bigger things than a scholarship to a Division I school and a number of years with the Canadian student and training national teams.

"Getting that scholarship (to the University of Colorado) was a big barrier to break," Becker said. "A kid from here going to an NCAA school was a rarity at the time. Once I got there I didn’t have a big goal of playing pro. I dreamed a little about it, but I didn’t set out to do it, probably to my detriment."

The Fort Richmond Collegiate grad, who now lives with his family in Linden Woods, still found his way to a lengthy pro career in Portugal, Germany, Luxembourg, Israel, Spain, Finland, Mexico and Australia. And he became the first Manitoban (followed since only by Todd MacCulloch) to try out for an NBA team, when he got a shot with the Indiana Pacers.

With a resumé like that, Becker was a slam dunk for the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame, which announced him as one of its 2013 inductees at a press conference last week.

"I was surprised," he said of his selection. "I hadn’t really thought of it, so it was very nice. We got (to the press conference) early and it hit me a little bit looking at all the history (in the Hall) and realizing that my name will be there where people will be walking through and hearing my story."

Becker’s favourite part of that story is the opportunity he had to represent his country. While people often ask him about his far-reaching travels as a professional, it was his participation in the 1989 World University Games and his training camp with the men’s national team prior to the 1994 World Championships that stand out most.

"Travelling is nice, but wearing the Canadian jersey is a special thing," Becker said. "Competing outside the country is a big deal."

Becker thinks it was his versatility as a player — his ability to play three positions — that allowed him to keep on finding work.

Versatility is something he stresses with the players he coaches at a variety of levels, from the Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association team his daughter plays on to the Basketball Canada Centre for Performance team he leads in the Manitoba region.

"I wasn’t that great at any one thing, but the ability to do a few things well was what intrigued a lot of different people," Becker said.

Also entering the Hall as players are Norm Froemel, Joey Johnson and Anne Smith. Clyde Perry and Russ Roney will be inducted in the builders category, while the Glenlawn Lions varsity girls from 1962, 1965 and 1966 and the Vincent Massey (Brandon) Vikings varsity boys from 1969-71 will be inducted as teams.

The induction ceremony will be held on Oct. 5 at the Victoria Inn.

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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