The Dribble podcast: Perth Wildcats captain Jesse Wagstaff talks about his amazing 400 game milestone

Headshot of Craig O'Donoghue
Craig O'DonoghueThe West Australian
Jesse Wagstaff is preparing for his 400th game.
Camera IconJesse Wagstaff is preparing for his 400th game. Credit: Perth Wildcats

Perth Wildcats captain Jesse Wagstaff has achieved more success than most players could even dream about, but he’s revealed his disdain for losing is stronger than his enjoyment of winning as he prepares for his 400th NBL game.

Wagstaff will become just the second person behind Ricky Grace to play 400 games for the Wildcats.

The 35-year-old has never taken a complicated approach to sport.

He avoids distractions and isn’t on social media, and that attitude has led to six NBL titles.

Wagstaff has won 257 games — more than most people get the chance to play — and is accustomed to walking off the court as the victor.

“It’s not that I love winning so much, it’s that I hate losing. I think it’s a fine distinction,” Wagstaff told The West Australian’s The Dribble Podcast.

Jesse Wagstaff becomes just the second Wildcat to reach the 400-game milestone.
Camera IconJesse Wagstaff becomes just the second Wildcat to reach the 400-game milestone. Credit: Perth Wildcats

“The losses you take pretty hard and you should. As you get older maybe you learn, but losses should hurt.”

It’s ironic that Wagstaff didn’t grow up wanting to be a basketballer. He didn’t start playing until he was 15 and spent his early years enjoying other sports.

But basketball changed his life in ways he never imagined.

“At the age I started playing, you play for fun and that’s what it should be about,” Wagstaff said.

“When my kids get a bit older, I’ll be encouraging them to play anything and everything. I think that’s really important not just from a skill development standpoint but from a life standpoint.

“I used to do everything. Basketball was fun at that stage so I kept on doing it.

“I made the choice of basketball and was lucky enough to go to college. Even after college, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to play professionally. I’m lucky I made that choice and gave it a whirl.”

Jesse Wagstaff didn’t start playing basketball until the age of 15.
Camera IconJesse Wagstaff didn’t start playing basketball until the age of 15. Credit: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

Wagstaff’s 400th game was scheduled to be in WA but the border closure will see it played in Victoria against Melbourne without his family present.

But it will be at the site of one of his championship wins and those memories are among his most cherished.

“I do love the feeling of contentment and achievement after the game that comes with sitting around in the locker room with the people you’ve shared the journey with and knowing you’ve achieved something,” he said.

“That’s a special moment.”

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