- Category : Sports-Basketball
- Type : GE
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Healing 2
Mark Robert Bradtke (born 27 September 1969) is an Australian retired professional basketball player.
He played mainly in Australia's National Basketball League, but also had a single stint in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996-97. As well as his outstanding play, Bradtke was known in the early part of his NBL career for his mullet haircut.
In 2013 Mark Bradtke was inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame for his contributions to basketball both in the NBL and for Basketball Australia.
Bradtke was born in the southern Adelaide suburb of Noarlunga and began playing basketball in 1985 while attending Redcliffe State High School north of Brisbane in Queensland (by that stage he was already 6'8" (203 cm)). Spotted by Adelaide 36ers coach Ken Cole who signed him to the 36ers as a 16-year-old, Bradtke was tipped to make his NBL debut in 1986, but he decided to attend the Australian Institute of Sport where he attended on a scholarship in 1986 and 1987.
Mark Bradtke started his NBL career with the Adelaide 36ers in 1988, though by that time the team was being coached by Gary Fox. That same year saw the now 6'10" (208 cm) Bradtke as a member of the Australian Boomers team at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, helping the team to finish fourth with a 4-4 record, losing the Bronze Medal game to the United States team which included future NBA players Dan Majerle and David Robinson. At the time, 18-year-old Bradtke was the youngest player ever having represented Australia in Basketball at the Summer Olympics (he would turn 19 during the preliminary rounds).
His star continued to rise in the NBL and in 1989 was named the NBL's Most Improved Player. After playing back up Centre to 6'9" (206 cm) 36ers team captain Bill Jones in 1988 and sharing the centre role with new recruit Orlando Phillips in 1989 (he also played a number of games at Power forward), Bradtke made the centre position his own in 1990, averaging 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game over 24 games.
He would spend another two seasons with the 36ers before asking the club to release him so he could sign with the Melbourne Tigers who had actively been trying to recruit the Adelaide centre. The 36ers tried to convince him to stay but eventually granted his release so that he could be with his girlfriend and future wife, Australian professional tennis player Nicole Provis who lived in Melbourne. During his last two seasons in Adelaide, Bradtke would lead the 36ers in blocked shots and despite playing only 17 games in 1992 was second in total rebounds for the 36ers to Mark Davis. In all, Bradtke played 118 games for the Adelaide 36ers, including 9 finals games, averaging 15.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
After spending the NBL off-season with Spanish League team Juver Murcia, Bradtke started with the Tigers in 1993, and after a slow start came on strong from mid-season helping the team to their fifth NBL playoffs in a row and their second grand final series in succession. Melbourne won their first ever NBL Championship with a 2-1 series win over the Perth Wildcats which included their first ever win at the Perth Entertainment Centre in the third and deciding game. He averaged 17 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 33 games played in 1993. Combining with star players Andrew Gaze (a fellow Boomer) and American imports Lanard Copeland and Dave Simmons, Bradtke's arrival helped transform the Tigers from a pretenders to a genuine championship team. The team would win their second NBL title in 1997 when they defeated cross-Melbourne rivals the South East Melbourne Magic 2-1 in the Grand Final, reversing the result from the 1996 series.
While with the 36ers that Mark Bradtke established himself as one of the premier centres in the NBL and following the Tigers 1993 championship, the then twice Olympic representative was regarded as the best centre in the league. Bradtke's form with the Tigers continued over the next nine seasons before finally receiving the ultimate individual accolade by being crowned the 2001-02 NBL Most Valuable Player. He was also voted to the All NBL First Team in 1994, 1996, 1997 and consecutively from 1999–2005 and was also selected to the NBL 20th Anniversary Team in 1998 and the NBL 25th Anniversary Team in 2003.
After 377 NBL games with the Melbourne Tigers, Bradtke played his last season with them in 2004-05. For the 2005-06 season he signed with the Brisbane Bullets, winning his third NBL title when the Bullets defeated his former team the Melbourne Tigers 3-1 in the 2006-07 NBL Grand Final series. After the grand final, and 59 games in two seasons with the Bullets, the 38-year-old Bradtke retired from playing professional basketball having played in four NBL Grand Finals (winning three)
Mark Bradtke retired as the NBL's all-time leading rebounder pulling down 6,283 rebounds (4,279 def, 2,004 off) at 11.3 per game. This record still stands as of the end of the 2014-15 NBL season. On 21 November 2003, Bradtke broke the previous NBL rebounds record of 5,200 held by his former Adelaide 36ers team mate Mark Davis at the Distinctive Homes Dome (now known as the Adelaide Arena). Davis, who still makes Adelaide his home, was on hand to present Bradtke with the game ball in recognition of his achievement. Bradtke led the NBL in rebounding in 1992 (14.8), 1994 (14.5), 1998–99 (13.3), 1999–00 (14.8), 2000–01 (14.1), 2000–01 (13.1), 2002–03 (12.9) and 2003–04 (10.9).
Bradtke is also third on the all-time list of NBL blocked shots with 763 at 1.3 per game
Mark Bradtke was a prominent player for the Australian Boomers, making his debut in 1987. He would go on to play in the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympic Games, helping the Boomers to the Bronze Medal game in 1988, 1996, and at home in Sydney in 2000. He also represented Australia at the 1990 and 1994 FIBA World Championship. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Bradtke became the youngest player to ever represent Australia in basketball at the Summer Olympic Games at age 18.
“ No matter what sport you play, you want to be at your best, playing against the best and that's what the Olympic Games were all about. You can go in there thinking you're ready, but then it hits you that you're playing against the best players in the world, who are more athletic, can jump higher and run faster, you have to find a way to perform and that's what I loved about Olympic competition. ”
— Mark Bradtke in 2013 on competing at the Olympics.
Despite playing nearly all of his NBL career as a centre owing to his 6'10" (208 cm) height, Bradtke played most of his international career for the Boomers as a starting Power Forward as the preferred starting centre was 7'2" (218 cm) Chicago Bulls NBA championship player Luc Longley.
Overall Mark Bradtke played in 179 games for the Boomers and was a two time winner of the "Gaze Medal" as the Australian Boomers International Player of the Year (1992, 1999).
At the age of 28, Bradtke signed with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA during the 1996–97 NBA season for a reported $247,500. He played 36 games for Philadelphia, averaging 1.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.1 blocks and 7 minutes court time per game.
Following the end of the 1992 NBL season with the 36ers Bradtke played the 1992-93 Spanish League season with Juver Murcia. The team unfortunately finished 22nd and were relegated the next season. He also spent part of 2002 playing with Greek League club Olympiacos.
Mark Bradtke has been married to the Australian former professional tennis player Nicole Provis since 1994. Together they have two boys, Austin (born 2000) and Jensen (born 2004).