“Not only was he a real court general and one of the greatest players of all time, but he also pushed wheelchair basketball to new heights through his hunger to develop and popularise the game."
The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have paid tribute to Dutch wheelchair basketball player Henk Makkenze, who passed away on 17 September 2015 aged 66.
A master of court control, Makkenze captained the Dutch team, winning Paralympic silver three times. He also discovered that the use of cambered drive wheels greatly improved the manoeuvrability and agility of basketball wheelchairs – an innovation that transformed the sport and is still in use in the modern game.
IPC President Sir Philip Craven, himself a former wheelchair basketball player, recalled Makkenze’s contributions on and off the court:
“Henk was one of the real greats and I always relished facing him in a game.
“Not only was he a real court general and one of the greatest players of all time, but he also pushed wheelchair basketball to new heights through his hunger to develop and popularise the game.
“I, alongside no doubt many in the Paralympic Movement, are saddened by his passing. His legacy will live on well into the future.”
Makkenze played numerous times for the Dutch national team and for his club, Rowic. He was also the assistant coach of the women’s national team.
Alongside Israel’s Baruch Hagai, Makkenze ran clinics around the world in the 1970s and 1980s to develop wheelchair basketball.
For his work he was awarded Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau by Her Majesty the Queen of The Netherlands. In 1994, he also received the IWBF's highest award - The Gold Medal Triad.