The bad boy of basketball

Tinashe Kusema
There are a slew of bullet points that stand out about Foxes’ point-guard Nathan “Givas” Warikandwa.

Immensely talented, hugely popular, somewhat controversial are usually the first three on any observer’s list.

It’s these traits that combine to make the 28-year-old one of the most colourful characters on Zimbabwe’s basketball scene.

“Givas is (the slang) for Glen View and that is where I am from,” said Warikandwa.

“I am very popular there. If you drop off anywhere in Glen View and ask any random person where Givas stays, odds are they will direct you straight to my house. You might even get a free drink or two for merely asking.”

As exaggerated as this may be, what is not inflated is the talent this Churchill Boys High alum possesses.

Givas emerged as the sole bright light of an otherwise miserable run by Zimbabwe’s four teams at the recent Zone Six Club Basketball Championships.

Warikandwa also used the championships to resolve some unfinished business with old foe Harare City Hornets. The performances earned him a move to the Botswana Police club, with Warikandwa expected to link with his new team tomorrow.

“This was my third club championship event but arguably the best of my entire career. I entered the games as a champion with Foxes; a team many thought would never win the title, but one that turned doubters into believers.

“I played a little basketball in Botswana some three years back, and that to me was the deciding factor. I already know most of my new teammates at the Police side from my days as a rival at Dolphins, so acclimatising won’t be hard.

“Also, I am now a family man, with mouths to feed, and they offered me a very lucrative contract that will enable me to play the game I love and provide for my family,” he said.

One of the biggest criticisms levelled against him is the size of his ego, which more often than not has seen him clash with teammates and coaches.

At Glen View Rockets, there was a feeling of betrayal after he left the team high and dry when coaches were starting to build the team around him. At Harare City Hornets, his clashes with Coach Langton “LK” Moyo are well-documented with the gaffer accusing him of indiscipline.

Warikandwa sees things differently.

“The first thing you have to know about me is that I am a very passionate and competitive person,” said Warikandwa.

“Once I step onto that court, I have no friends except my teammates. I am the type of person who will foul you intentionally during a game and then look for you to buy you a drink and apologise after. Leaving Rockets hurt me probably more than it hurt those I left but I had to make a decision that was best for me and my career. Hornets were a championship calibre team; one that I thought could help me win more championships and more medals. Besides they offered me money and who wouldn’t want to be paid for their work?”

That relationship did not last long.

“People are going to say whatever they want about why I left Hornets and I don’t really care. The truth is I wanted more minutes and more game time; i thought I had earned that much.

“I made my feelings known to the coach but he thought otherwise. I moved on, won a title and that is now water under the bridge,” he said.

But it is not all quite as done as dusted as he initially implies.

“It is funny that Hornets were one of the teams that approached me during the Bulawayo Games and I told them I will move under two conditions.

“One, they make me the highest paid player in the squad and also they pay me the outstanding pay and allowances they owe me from my time there. I think it amounts to $3 500,” he said.

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