No1 Draft Pick Head Coach Steve Carfino is a seminal figure in Australian basketball.
After a brilliant career at the University of Iowa, where he earned All-Big Ten selection and was team MVP in his senior season, he arrived in this country in 1986 to play with the Hobart Devils in the National Basketball League and began one of the greatest careers the competition has ever seen, averaging over 30 points per game in his two outstanding NBL seasons in Tasmania.
Despite playing for a small-market program, Steve became an immediate hit with his combination of blinding speed, deadly outside shooting and just flat-out charisma. In both seasons in Hobart, he won selection as an NBL First Team All Star and finished runner-up to Leroy Loggins for the NBL Most Valuable Player Award in 1986.
But it was with the Sydney Kings where Steve really made his mark.
When Kings’ founder, the late Mike Wrublewski, began to build his roster for the new Sydney Kings in 1988, he knew that the team needed some flash, some style, someone to create an extra level of excitement and bring fans through the door.
Enter Steve Carfino.
The 6’1” guard – who had been drafted by the NBA’s Boston Celtics in the same year that a certain Michael Jordan was picked by the Chicago Bulls – was the ideal fit for a new Sydney team looking to make a splash in their debut campaign, but it took a lot to get him, including a trip all the way to the Federal Court to gain his release from the Devils, who fought tooth and nail to keep their franchise player.
When he arrived in Sydney, Kings’ court announcer Rodney ‘The Voice’ Overby immediately bestowed upon him the nickname ‘Mr Magic’ and it was perfect. It fit the young man with a ready smile and magnetic personality to a T.
Carfino was a sensation in that first season with the Kings and was a pin-up boy right from the start. On court he was explosive, dynamic and unstoppable when he got going. ‘Magic’ was a good way of describing some of his spectacular performances.
In 1989 he really came into his own, helping the Kings to a semi-final appearance and making one incredible play after the other. He continued that roll into 1990 as the purple and gold moved to the Sydney Entertainment Centre and made the playoffs again, but in 1991 he suffered an unfortunate back injury and retired from the league.
However, it’s not a great surprise that he has had a terrific career in the media since his retirement. One of the nation’s most popular on-air personalities, Steve has co-hosted the ‘Saturday Basketball’ and ‘Basketball Extra’ shows for Network Ten and hosted ‘Inside Basketball’ and ‘Basketball Wrap’ for Fox Sports. He has been a play by play commentator and expert analyst on NBL coverage for Network Ten and Fox Sports, and currently hosts and writes for the ‘Waratah Wrap’, a marketing and social network site for Basketball New South Wales.
He’s also a renowned public speaker, Master of Ceremonies and Ambassador, working with the likes of Coca Cola, JVC, the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Starlight Foundation.
In 2004, he was honoured with induction into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame in an emotional ceremony attended by his parents, who unbeknownst to him had been secretly flown over from the United States for the event. If ever anyone deserved to be part of the Hall of Fame, it was ‘Mr Magic’, one of the all-time great players and human beings ever to step foot on these shores – and one of the greatest ever to wear the purple and gold of the Sydney Kings.
And now in his role as Head Coach of No1 Draft Pick, Steve is involved in all clinics and training methods. A hands-on approach, his ability to communicate at all levels and his great knowledge and charisma makes him the ideal face of N1DP.
“Every kid wants to be good, they just don’t know how,” he says.
“My role is to identify what they want and instil self-esteem in bucket loads to help them grow.”
Steve has worked with children for 30 years and as a parent is passionate to teach them the benefits of basketball from having fun to establishing pathways for future elite players.
“I like to teach belief, because if they believe they can – they will,” he states emphatically.
“Boys and girls will enjoy it more when they improve in their game; their confidence grows and they start enjoying the game more. Friends start noticing and making comments about how good they are. I have seen this time and time again.”
“If they work at their game, work on the little things, they will improve and want to keep playing the game and in life.”
Sydney Kings Legend
Australian Basketball Hall of Famer
Nickname: Mr Magic
NBL Games Played: 132
NBL Career Stats (all teams): 23.4ppg, 5.7apg, 3.8rpg, 2.9spg, 46% FG, 39% 3PT FG, 78.4% FT
Games Played for Sydney Kings: 81
Career Stats (for Kings): 20.8ppg, 5.1apg, 3.4rpg, 2.5spg, 47% FG, 40% 3PT FG, 80% FT
All-time Top Ten in Sydney Kings history in points, field goals made, field goals attempted, three point field goals made, three point field goals attempted, three point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, assists and steals
NBL MVP Runner-Up 1986
All NBL First Team 1986
All NBL First Team 1987
All NBL Second Team 1988
All NBL Second Team 1989
University of Iowa 1980-1984
All-Big Ten First Team 1984
NBA Draft Pick, Boston Celtics 1984
High School All-American