From nbl.com.au :
Written for NBL.com.au by Chris Pike
Just hours after sending his Perth Wildcats top of the NBL and minutes after shaking off a death threat, Damian Martin added to his remarkable reputation by saving a man along with his dog from a burning down house.
Martin is in the midst of some outstanding form on the floor over the past month and his renewed offensive aggressiveness combined with getting back to full health to be firing defensively is a big reason why Perth sits on top of the table with one round of the regular season to go.
Then on Sunday, Martin came up huge not only hitting the game typing three-pointer that sent the game against the Sydney Kings at RAC Arena into overtime, but he finished with quite the stat-line of 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
You might think it was time to head home for a quiet Sunday evening with wife Brittany and their two daughters Maggie and Bonnie, but not Damian Martin.
Martin saw some smoke rising above the suburban households and then drove towards it, where he noticed a house was ablaze.
Let’s let Martin pick up the story from there.
“I jumped out of the car and started running up the stairs to the house,” Martin told Perth radio station 92.9.
“This poor guy started walking out and asked if his house was on fire and I was like ‘Yeah it is buddy. Where’s your hose?’ I went and grabbed the hose and jumped up to try and put it out on the roof, but unfortunately the fire was coming from the other side of the house.
“I asked if there was another hose and went around the back to try and put it out. Then I yelled out to him asking if there was anyone else inside and he said, ‘Just my dog’.”
While the man had just woken from a nap and was somewhat disoriented when Martin arrived, the dog proved to be a similarly tough opponent to what his Sydney Kings opposition had been that afternoon.
“The dog wasn’t wearing a collar so here I am, I managed to get into the pergola which wasn’t attached to the house,” he said.
“And mate, after spending 20-odd minutes guarding Jerome Randle and Kevin Lisch, and here I was no word of a lie, in a defensive stance trying to make sure this dog doesn’t get past me in the pergola and back into the house.
“Then some other people turned up and we asked them to call the firies.”
Having saved the man and his dog from the fire and possibly from being injured or even losing their lives, Martin thought it might be a good idea to try and save whatever precious items from the house he could too.
“Once the other people got there, I went back inside to grab his computer because he might want his photos and whatever memories and things saved,” Martin said.
“But it wasn’t just a laptop, it was a whole desktop and I was there unplugging things trying to get it out. Then it turned out it was plugged into a TV screen so I was grabbing that as well.”
While that has hero written all over it, Martin played down his feats and instead felt sorry for the poor man who it was later confirmed had house destroyed in the fire.
“I just was stuck there wondering what on earth is going on in this afternoon where I hit a big shot, which I thought would be an air ball for me, and then I got home to the death threat and into a house fire. It was about as eventful as a Sunday can get I reckon,” Martin said.
“The poor guy was already on his way out of the house, but I did feel sorry for him. He was definitely in shock and when he was looking at his dog when the firies arrived, he just told his dog how sorry he was and I thought that was heartbreaking.”
It’s hard to imagine Martin could be held in higher esteem in the Australian sporting public for everything he’s already done in a remarkable 307-game NBL career.
His accolades speak for themselves as a four-time championship winner, with three of those as captain, a record six-time NBL Defensive Player of the Year award winner, a Grand Final MVP and an Olympian.
It’s more than that. The toughness, perseverance and tenacity Martin has always played the game with has endeared himself to the basketball public not to mention his ability to overcome any number of injuries ranging from copping heavy knocks to joins and muscles giving way.
Now that his superhero work is done for the week, Martin is knuckling down to prepare for the Wildcats to host the Adelaide 36ers on Friday night.
A win there for Perth and they can go to Melbourne on Sunday and secure top position and the regular season championship as they chase what would be a fifth title of his career.
And it is a career that doesn’t look like slowing down. There might have been some signs in the first part of #NBL19 that Martin might even join long-time teammate Greg Hire in retirement this season, but forget about that.
Martin might be out of contract at season’s end, but the way he is playing right now at both ends of the floor is likely the best he has played in a stretch since closing out the 2015/16 season where he was named Grand Final MVP and would go on to the Rio Olympic Games.
The 34-year-old might have had reason to start to think if his recent part-time real estate work would become full-time come the end of the season when he hurt a calf and missed six games, then didn’t have the impact he would have hoped upon return.
Martin was struggling and so were the Wildcats through the second half of December and first half of January, but things have turned dramatically since for team and captain.
Since losing in Adelaide on January 17 which made it seven in eight for Perth, they haven’t lost again winning five straight against Melbourne, Adelaide, Illawarra and Sydney (twice) to sit on top of the NBL with one round and two games to go.
It was a home loss to Cairns back in Round 13 that Martin decided to take some responsibility on his shoulders for their tough run too. He had been quite passive offensively since he returned from his calf injury but decided that wouldn’t cut it anymore.
He decided to pick up the pace which should help his teammates, but also decided to stop turning down good looks from the perimeter while also taking it upon himself to drive the ball inside to either set up teammates or toss up his effective little runners.
In his first nine games back up until the end of that loss to Cairns, Martin was averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 assists along with only five shots which he was shooting at 15/46 at 32.6 per cent from the field and 7/28 at 2530 per cent from three.
In the six games since which have resulted in five wins, he has rocketed to 8.5 points and 3.5 assists with eight shots a game. His percentages over those six have been 20/48 at 41.7 per cent from the floor and 9/25 at 36.0 per cent from three.
Far from a spent force, Martin looks capable of giving the Wildcats another crack at a championship this season while doing it as a husband, father of two, budding real estate agent, marriage celebrant and fire-saving hero.