Great Britain v CroatiaKim Butler bid an emotional farewell to basketball with Great Britain’s departure from EuroBasket Women.

She will, without question, be missed. But with yet another outstanding performance as her curtain call, the 30-year-old forward left on a high, with a win, against Croatia as Damian Jennings’ side bowed out at the end of the second round.

Having originally planned to walk away after the Olympics, only to return, there will be no third comeback, she vowed.

“That is my last game,” said Butler, fighting back the tears afterwards. “I’m definitely retiring. I couldn’t be more happy than to do it playing for Damian. He’s seen the road, and all the ups and downs.

“The Olympics was my goal and I reached that. But now it’s time to hang the boots up and move on to something a little less stressful.”

Butler has been one of the totems of GB’s rise from nowhere to complete respectability, from Division B to what their best-ever placing at a major tournament.

Her form suggests she has plenty left. But after a decade of traversing the Atlantic from her home in Washington State to places like Israel, Slovakia and Latvia, then with summers taken up on international duty, she is reluctantly calling it quits.

“It’s hard to turn your back to the game that’s been my life and represent my country, along with the team-mates I’ve had over these years,” she said. “But it’s time. And I’m happy to have everyone here to witness that.”

Jennings, destined to be her final coach, made her captain in his first tournament at the helm. He will know she will be hard to replace, on and off the court.

“She’s been a great ambassador, not just a player, for British basketball,” he said.

“The likes of Kim Butler are role models and a big reason why we’ve got young girls of 15 years old playing basketball at a very good level and dreaming of the future. And our job is to make sure the efforts of the likes of Kim has not been in vain.”

Hear more from Kim Butler and Damian Jennings with reflections on EuroBasket Women in the July issue of MVP Magazine.

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