The NBL has traditionally had its fair share of bad publicity, thanks in part to poor management and a serious lack of on-court talent.
However, in recent years I am glad to say both the league and Basketball Australia have really got its act together and the results can be seen on and off the court.
Crowd numbers have shown that the competition is healthy with increases over each of the last three seasons.
The Perth Wildcats are moving to the 14,500-seat Perth Arena to accommodate their large fanbase. Do not be surprised if we see the New Zealand Breakers do the same thing by moving permanently to the 12,000-seat Vector Arena.
The NBL now has a free-to-air presence on Ten that will show one game live on Sundays and one on OneHD on delay on Fridays for next season. The league is also looking into getting more games live through Fox Sports for next season, meaning more revenue and exposure for the growing competition.
We have nine teams currently competing: Sydney Kings, Melbourne Tigers, Adelaide 36ers, Perth Wildcats, Gold Coast Blaze, Wollongong Hawks, Townsville Crocodiles, Cairns Taipans and New Zealand Breakers. Many criticise the competition for a lack of big market presence with the main sticking point being no Brisbane team.
However, people need to understand that once the League becomes more stable, which appears to have been happening for some time, the big markets are going to follow. Brisbane and a second Melbourne team are up for inclusion for the 2013-2014 season.
Also, let us not forget the noise that has come out of Newcastle and Wellington over recent years. Potentially, by 2015 the NBL could be looking at a 13-team competition.
Outside of the league and off the court, Kristina Keneally was appointed to the position of chair of Basketball Australia in December of last year. This was huge news for the sport as a whole, thanks to the political muscle she can flex in pushing for government funding.
Just recently she made comments about the large amounts of undeserving cash the government was pumping into football, saying, “This sort of major expenditure cannot continually be made on behalf of a select few sports at the expense of other high participation codes like basketball.” Hopefully she can continue to push for more funding to benefit Australian basketball.
Lastly, the Boomers have a strong chance to medal this year at the London Olympics. As we have seen with football, international success can trickle down into popularity for domestic competitions. Just ask the FFA how the Socceroos 2006 World Cup success affected the A-League – the two seasons after the World Cup were the A-League’s best attended.
However, Olympic success will only fast track what I believe will eventually happen: the NBL becoming a mainstream league just as it was in the 1990s.
I realise that most of what I have said may be old news to the basketball followers. I am here just to remind everyone that the good is just going to keep coming.
The giant that is the NBL is soon to awake. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.