Boxes sat unopened in Cal Bruton's garage for 16 years, home to a Hall of Fame career built on championships and scoring titles.
You see, when Bruton moved into a new house years ago, he'd boxed up a lifetime's worth of memories created throughout the ups and downs of the NBL, and "never really been back". Until last year when he raided them with his sons.
"They pulled out a whole bunch of jerseys," Bruton laughed.
"We turned a bedroom into a weight room and they had my Wildcats jerseys, Geelong Cats, Tasmania, Hobart, everything but a Cannons jersey. I never played for the Cannons so that's why there wouldn't have been a jersey in there.
"I was hoping for a Magic Johnson jersey, I was hoping maybe one might just be floating around. It's been a while since I've been back into those boxes."
But why would there be an Earvin "Magic" Johnson jersey strewn among boxes full of NBL gear? Because there once was a night the Canberra Cannons were tragic for Magic.
And when The Canberra Times contacted Bruton asking if he had any Cannons gear he could pull on to relive the club's glory days at the AIS Arena, today used as a mass COVID-19 vaccination hub, the former coach of the year walked down memory lane.
"I thought 'I do have some old tracksuits packed away, maybe if I can find that box'. Sure enough, the second box I opened had it in there. I was like 'Oh my God, this is one of those moments'," Bruton said.
"It was a flashback straight away. When I sent it to you, I had just yesterday gone through some pictures to send to Herb McEachin. I was going through some old pictures and that came up, the Magic Johnson one. I screenshotted it so it was at the front of my picture collection.
"Then when you asked for it, I thought 'wow, I found the tracksuit and that's the exact picture where I had it on'. That was kind of crazy. Great memories, man. That was the best trip, it really was."
Johnson is a five-time NBA champion, thrice the league's most valuable player, and a 12-time All Star whose No. 32 is retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. Still can't believe it? There's a nine-minute video on YouTube, titled simply Canberra Cannons featuring Magic Johnson.
The opening graphic calls it a match between the Michigan State Spartans - Johnson's former college team - and the Magic Johnson All Stars. But these are the Cannons. There he is in red, blue, and white, with No. 32 on his jersey one Friday night in November 2002?
The relationship had started years prior during Bruton's time with the Perth Wildcats. A business trip to the US had allowed him to forge a relationship with the NBA star, who years later called Bruton - then in charge of the Cannons - when a European team had pulled out of an exhibition game.
"That's when he contacted me and said could I raise the money to bring a team here. I couldn't say no. I just had to find a way to get the money. I think we had three weeks, that's all we had," Bruton said.
Bruton sold 45 Johnson jerseys for $45,000 to three corporate companies in three days, and raised another $15,000 in an auction. "Before you knew it, we were off" on a whirlwind tour of the US.
The Cannons beat the Spartans 104-85. Johnson recorded 12 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. But this was about more than numbers.
"For us to create an opportunity to connect us with the NBA was absolutely huge, and potentially a game-changer for Australian basketball. In the end it was that."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: