We now have an NBA champion

Champs: Traralgon's Jack White poses with Denver's starting point guard, Jamal Murray, during the Nugget's NBA championship celebrations. Photograph supplied





JACK White is now in some serious company.

The Traralgon export is coming off the back of Denver Nuggets’ NBA title breakthrough, and now stacks up with some of the best basketballers that Australia has produced.

Denver Nuggets secured their first-ever NBA title last week, defeating Miami Heat in a 4-1 series win on their way to NBA glory.

White became just the seventh Australian to win an NBA chip, now alongside Luc Longley, Andrew Gaze, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova.

Not only this, but White becomes the third player in history to win an NBL title (Melbourne United in 2021) and an NBA title, joining Gaze and American Ian Clark.

While that is the now, there is one woman who has been there from the start – Sharon Royal, one of White’s previous coaches and current coach at the Traralgon Amateur Basketball Association.

Royal’s kids were and still are very good friends with White, so Royal is definitely no stranger to him whatsoever.

“My boys and the White boys hung out,” Royal said.

“The kids, they weren’t playing squad (basketball), so I just got a second side together.”

At the time, White was only 10-years-old, but Royal would soon see in the coming years just what he was capable of.

“As a bottom-aged under 16s state player, he made the first cut, but didn’t make the next cut,” Royal said.

“My husband was the coach, and he (White) went up to him and asked what he had to do to make the team to get better.

“They worked together to get to the next level, he wanted to do his own homework, like he wanted to work on his game.”

White spent 2016-2020 at Duke, where he would become a leader in his senior year, as he was appointed as captain of the squad, despite not getting major playing time.

After Duke, White returned to Australia, playing for Melbourne United for two years, winning the title in 2021.

White then joined the Denver Nuggets for the NBA Summer League, and following the Summer League, he signed a two-way contract with the Nuggets.

His two-way contract allows him to play G-League basketball for Grand Rapids Gold, as well as NBA minutes for Denver, all while no other teams can approach him for a contract.

“His basketball IQ is absolutely amazing, his work ethic is amazing,” Royal said.

And that brings us to the 2022/23 season, where his life would change for the better.

White would play 17 games for Denver in NBA, but only received minimal minutes, averaging 3.9 minutes per game.

White flourished in the G-League, averaging 32.5 minutes per game, 17.2 points per game and nine rebounds per game from 12 matches.

Now, Jack White is an NBA champion, there is no changing that fact.

“My phone has been blowing up non-stop – I’m trying to get back to everyone but it’s a logistical nightmare,” White told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“I’m grateful to not only the people here during this time, but those who were there for me in the darkest of times, during injuries or not playing.

“My family, close friends and my agent Sammy (Wloszczowski) have been with me every step of the way.

“I haven’t been home in over 12 months, so I’m looking forward to that and reflecting on everything.

White told The Sydney Morning Herald that he “can’t wait to get home to Traralgon” and spend time with his family.

“We were all, as a family, super stoked for him … I couldn’t be more overjoyed,” Royal said.

White’s story is one that has plenty of ups and downs.

It’s one that saw him side lined and out of action only two to three years ago with a broken thumb, which was then followed up by a snapped Achilles in one of his returning games back.

His perseverance got him through that tough time, and allowed him to grow and develop into the NBA champion that he is today.

You can’t imagine what he was thinking at the stage of his life, moments before signing for an NBA team and being struck with injury.

“He takes advantage of the time given to him,” Royal said.

“You don’t have to score to be a good player, it’s what he does away from the ball as well, the way he helps his team.”

The entire Traralgon Amateur Basketball Association still gets around their export, and follows his career with intent.

“The young kids just look up to him,” Royal said.

When asked if Traralgon has ever produced someone this successful on the basketball court, Royal responded, “No, not this successful … but Jack is definitely the player, one of our juniors that have gone the furthest”.

It’s no doubt that White’s career is on the up, especially after a breakout year that was topped off with an NBA chip.

His G-League stats are exceptional, producing close-to-top numbers with less games under his belt.

As for right now, White is most likely still soaking up the glory of Denver’s triumph, but he soon has to return to Australian shores, for an Australian camp in Cairns.