As the buzzer sounded in Saskatoon’s 16-14 loss to Team Kranj, it also marked the end of an era.
Following the tournament’s third and final stop in downtown Saskatoon on the 3×3 World Tour circuit, the Bridge City Ballers have decided to hang up their sneakers.
“This is my farewell tour, basically,” Team Saskatoon captain Michael Linklater said. “So, to have my family out here, to have our friends and all of our supporters, it’s that much more special.”
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Linklater has given over two decades to the sport he loves, and in doing so, hopes that he has inspired the next generation of local talent to get involved in the world of 3×3 basketball.
“To see a lot of these kids coming out, wanting a picture or an autograph, it’s awesome,” Linklater said.
“Those are the kids that I want to be coming back and watching play, and hopefully I’ve done my job in inspiring someone.”
According to Tourism Saskatoon, the event draws around 30,000 spectators annually, so the next generation of talent has had ample opportunity to become exposed to the sport. However, if and when the next Team Saskatoon joins the 3×3 World Tour, don’t expect to see Linklater coming out of retirement to join them on the court.
“I’m honestly happy to turn the page,” the Team Saskatoon captain said. “It’s not that I have anything [left] to prove, I’m not looking for one more. Really, for me, it’s dedicating the time to my family.”
If Linklater ever does get the urge to return to the 3×3 court, he can draw upon the experience of teammate Willie Murdaugh, who came out of retirement for this tournament.
Murdaugh even offered up a few of the tips that he would pass on to Linklater.
“Drink lots of water, that’s key. Drink lots of water,” Murdaugh said. “Drink two cups of warm water every morning, that’s what you do.”
When asked if he would potentially join Linklater in a reunion out of retirement in a few years’ time, the 50-year-old Murdaugh did not mince his words.
“Shut your mouth! I don’t think so — this is it, brother. I’m going to stay in shape, but I won’t be playing [anymore].”
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