THERE’S a saying that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
And it sums up Taylor Bell’s year away from basketball and the Bendigo Braves in 2012.
After almost a decade of playing at SEABL level Bell called it quits in 2012, but it was during that year away from the game it hit home just how important the Bendigo Braves – the club and the people – were to him.
Bell returned to the Braves in 2013 and on Friday night will play game 300 for the club when Bendigo hosts Brisbane at the Bendigo Stadium in the final round of the SEABL season.
“I was busy with work in 2012 and a bit mentally fatigued, so I took the year off,” Bell said on Wednesday.
“I didn’t think I was going to play again after that, but I missed not being part of the club and all the guys.
“Being away for that year, I didn’t realise just how big of a time commitment it was, but when you’re not around the club and the atmosphere of playing in this building (Bendigo Stadium)… it’s such a proud club and to not be involved that year was something I really missed.
“Looking back now, it was a fantastic decison to have that year off.”
Not only did the year away from the game he had been playing since he was an eight-year-old give Bell a chance to freshen up physically and mentally, he also believes he returned a better player.
“I had 12 months to sit back and look at what my strengths and weaknesses were as not only a player, but also a leader for the group,” Bell said.
And that’s how Bell sees himself at the Braves – as a leader who is content to play whatever role is asked of him.
This season the 28-year-old is averaging 3.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game for a Braves team that sits second on the south conference ladder.
“I obviously play off the bench and I’m just happy to do anything the club needs me to do,” said Bell, who has scored 1211 points for the Braves since debuting in 2003.
“I try to be a leader as much as I can, both vocally and just effort and energy on the court coming off the bench.”
Bell has played in four conference titles with the Braves, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011, as well as the 2005 national championship-winning team.
Friday night’s game tips off at 8pm.