Fabulous Flournoy has quashed speculation that he will hang up his BBL vest for good after revealing he plans to play a full part in Newcastle Eagles’ bid to score silverware this season.
The most decorated coach in British basketball history turned 45 last month and broke his foot towards the end of a frustrating 2017/18 campaign.
But in his first full interview since May, a typically forthright Flournoy confirmed he will once again have a key role for the men in black – on court and off it.
“I’m part of the team as a player and a coach,” he said. “The big questions over the summer were whether I was going to return and, if I was coming back, would I play on.
“There were all sorts of things going in the background and some of those things weren’t in the public domain. I couldn’t comment and neither could the club.
“But it’s always the case, every summer, that every position gets reviewed and that includes my own. Nothing has changed in that respect.”
Flournoy has guided the Eagles to an unprecedented 24 domestic titles during his 16 years as player-coach.
And although it always seemed improbable that the popular New Yorker would not be leading the club into the Eagles Community Arena in December, his position is far from untouchable.
“Newcastle Eagles are in a unique position where there’s a player-coach and at some point in time that’s going to change,” he added.
“Whether that change will come due to my own physicality or the club moving in a different direction, who knows? But one thing is certain – eventually it will happen.”
Flournoy’s confirmation that he will suit up for an 18th season in Newcastle colours follows a flurry of transfer activity during August.
Excluding their player-coach, the Eagles have confirmed nine signings so far this summer with rumours of a 10th set for this week.
And Flournoy insisted he remains in a strong position to battle for BBL minutes following an intense period of close-season self-reflection.
“As I do every year I assess myself as a coach and I assess myself as a player,” he added. “The club’s coaching staff also assess me as a player and they will tell me what I need to know.
“But I’ve always been able to take the emotion out of the situation and take a step back. Men can lie, women can lie but numbers don’t. As a coaching staff we focus on the numbers.”
Flournoy accepted he has a battle on his hands to force his way off the bench – starting with this week’s pre-season double-header in Belgium.
But the versatile forward loves competition and can’t wait to work with his new team from today [Monday].
“It’s always a bit of a step into the unknown at this time of year,” he added. “At the start of the summer it’s always a bit of a jigsaw puzzle – making sure that all the pieces fit right. “But I’m extremely excited by what I’ve seen and happy with what we have.
“I needed to put together a team that’s able to deal with the disruption of a mid-season move to the Eagles Community Arena and assemble a group of players who can handle the excitement around that move.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to Dave Forrester, Ian Macleod and Paul Blake for putting in so much work over the summer to pull together the roster we have. There’s been a huge amount of effort gone on behind the scenes to pit us in the position we are in right now. Thanks to that effort I’m very positive about the new season.”
Newcastle face Spirou Charleroi and Okapi Aalstar this weekend in what promises to be a stiff test of another new-look Eagles’ roster.
“We’re being thrown in at the deep end,” added Flournoy. “But what I love about the trip is that it’s both a no-pressure situation and, at the same time, an extremely pressurised situation.
“We’re focused on learning to play together and learning from each other in a very short space of time and it’s a chance for all of the guys to shake off the close-season cobwebs.
“At this stage of the season it’s normally an open book in terms of what we might do and what we might achieve but at least I have a good idea about what I’m working with. Nothing is certain but we know which cards we’d like to play and when.”