From NBA poster dunks to buzzer beaters: Tom Abercrombie's top 5 moments as a Breakers player

From NBA poster dunks to buzzer beaters: Tom Abercrombie's top 5 moments as a Breakers player

Take a look back at the best of Mr. Breaker on the day of what could be his last ever game.

Four championships, 425 games, 4434 points, 1536 field goals, 568 three-pointers, 794 free throws, 302 steals and 262 blocks - all NZ Breakers records, all Thomas Abercrombie's. 

This week, the 36-year-old New Zealand basketball legend announced this season will be his last. Spending all sixteen of his years in the NBL with the Breakers, he saw them rise to top relevancy in a packed Kiwi sporting climate. 

After making his debut in 2008, Thomas is the only player to take the court in all six Championship series the club has appeared in.

“The things Tom brings to a team, a club, a locker room and to the floor are exceptional,” coach Mody Maor said. 

“Tom Abercrombie is everything you want an athlete to be, from positional size, to toughness, to athleticism, to shooting, to IQ, to leadership - he is literally the best captain I have ever been around.”

“We are losing a player who is a connection with the Breakers of today and the legacy of the Breakers past.”

If his team takes home the tonight at Spark Arena, the Auckland-born baller may still add to the resume as the Breakers have a chance to advance to the NBL playoffs. 

Until then, we have plenty of time to reminisce on number ten’s sixteen seasons of commitment to basketball in Aotearoa. We’ve decided to go over the five best moments of his career: you’re likely to disagree because there are too many to choose from. 

Tom Abercrombie’s Top Five Moments as a New Zealand Breaker

5. 400th game

To tip off the 2023 - 24 NBL season, Tom played his 400th game for the Breakers, becoming the first-ever player to reach that milestone. 

“Tom Abercrombie is the Breakers,” Mika Vokona, the second most capped Breaker, said in a tribute video for the occasion. “He’s a guy that’s come from the academy, gone through the experiences winning a championship, through the build.”

The Breakers won that day, making it an easy choice to put here. 

4. Career-high 33 Points

In a double overtime spectacle, Tom put his reigning champion team on his back, scoring a career-high 33 points against the Melbourne Tigers.

(Proof of how he’s been playing longer than the majority of Kiwis have cared for basketball, no footage exists of his performance online). 

After the performance, Vukona told Stuff that he's not going to take the young fella for granted: “His composure for a young guy was impressive. You can see the emotion and passion he has but he keeps it intact.”

“All of us are pretty happy to have him playing for us because you just don't know how long he's going to be around."

3. Poster Dunk On Jaren Jackson Jr. 

Enough of this mushy stuff, let’s get to real hoops. During a preseason game vs the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, Tom viciously dunked the ball over, through and around future Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. 

It’s a textbook poster dunk: a clear leadup where both players know they’re about to challenge each other, bodies clashing in mid-air, the arm cocked back with the ball in hand, the thump of the rim and the scream after. An extremely underrated NZ hooping highlight. 

2. Buzzer-beater vs Cairns Taipans

No legendary basketballing career is complete without a game-winning shot with no time left on the clock. Leaving it late in the grand scheme of things, Tom snagged his one in unreal style in 2021. 

In a tied game against the Cairns Taipans, he grabbed a just-blocked ball with one second left on the clock. As he secures it, he’s facing the wrong hoop. He quickly turns, rises and lets that baby fly. Buzzer, then bucket. 

He also hit one against the Brisbane Bullets in 2018: While I rate the Cairns shot higher due to its degree of difficulty and the buzzer going off while the shot is still in the air, I will admit the Brisbane one was more important as they were down a point, rather than tied

1. 2011 Grand Finals MVP

When the Breakers won the NBL in 2011, New Zealand finally had one over the Aussies. It marked the first time a Kiwi team won an Australian competition., erasing years of Warriors and Phoenix heartbreak. Most importantly though, for the first time, the whole country was watching basketball. 

Tom was awarded Finals MVP for his effort in the three-game series. Of course, the team would go on to win the next two championships and one more two years after that, ending up with four titles in five years.

From NBA poster dunks to buzzer beaters: Tom Abercrombie's top 5 moments as a Breakers player Tom and the Breakers celebrate after winning the 2011 NBL Championship. Credit: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

If not for Tom for donning the jersey and doing literally everything on the court, New Zealand basketball would be in a completely different place. 

Enjoy retirement, champion.