For the NBL to fire, they need to load up the Bullets
It was somewhere around the first Friday in October that it all came back to me – take Friday Night Football out of the equation, and I have no life.
I’m completely okay with this, having turned enough Friday nights into Sunday mornings in my time to know it’s a young man’s game, but it still left the small matter of how to amuse myself until March 2013 rolls around.
It’s a conundrum no doubt being grappled with by a lot of local sports fans suckled on the teat of rugby league and Australian Rules football, and one that fellow Roarer HayloHaylz had a crack at solving for us all a few weeks back.
It’s also a conundrum that was once easily solved – just set your television dial to Nine’s Summer of Cricket, settle into your couch, and away you went.
But in recent years, the Summer of Cricket has become something of a Summer of Tedium. Sure, you’ll happily while away the days with Richie, Bill, Tony and the gang, and even miss it for a while when they pack up the whites and/or canary yellow come February.
Still, the reality is that the best thing about cricket in Australia these days is listening to Kerry O’Keefe laugh at his own jokes on ABC Grandstand.
On the subject of domestic cricket, as a Queenslander living in Sydney you’ve got as much chance of hearing what the Bulls are up to as you do finding anyone who’s enjoyed the past seven State of Origin series as much as you have. Apparently we aren’t travelling so hot? Fortunately we’ve won a million titles since the Shield drought broke in ’95, so whatever.
A-League soccer? I’m a Roar fan rather than a fanatic – used to be a regular at Lang Park in those days, not so long back, when they could snatch defeat from the jaws of a torrid 0-0 draw better than anyone.
In fact, their sudden ability to win games coincided quite nicely with my decision to swap New Farm for Redfern, and the only time I’ve seen them play live since was a loss – to the Gold Coast, of all teams. I suspect Besart Berisha’s hair was to blame.
But I do applaud the fair-weather sports fans of Sydney for fully getting behind their team now that they’ve signed a bloke most of them had never heard of four months ago, and the Wanderers for giving North Sydney Bears fans a chance to dust off their jerseys and remember what it was like to have a team to follow.
Bears fans and I have actually become kindred spirits over the past five years, as I try to get excited about the summer sport that I enjoy watching most – the NBL. I missed the golden late-80s/early 90s era of the Brisbane Bullets, when Leroy was leaping and Ronnie was rat-like and ‘Long’ John Dorge was, umm, being long, but from 2000 onwards got to as many games as I could.
And the Brisbane Convention Centre, sometimes known as ‘The Library’ for its ‘intimidating’ atmosphere, was a graveyard – for the Bullets, mainly. There was a run of two or three seasons there when I didn’t see a win, and the highlight of most games was going to Karaoke at Southbank afterwards to sing “That’s why I’m easy… easy like the Brisbane Bullets”.
But they were our team, and Troy ‘The Truck’ Pilon was a man amongst men, and we loved them – even if they could barely string two winning quarters together, let alone two games.
Then they started winning games. They started making the finals. Then they pipped the Melbourne Tigers 98-95 in game one of the 2006/2007 Grand Final series on their way to taking out the title, and the roar that went up around the Brisbane Entertainment Centre was Origin-like in magnitude.
Then ‘flamboyant’ owner Eddie Groves’ paper empire began to crumble, the club couldn’t find a buyer, and by the end of the 2007/08 season the Bullets had fired their last shot. And my NBL care-factor has shot nothing but blanks since.
Watching the Boomers at the Olympics put a twinkle in my eye. Ten and One HD screening two NBL games a week put a spring in my step. But it’s hard to get excited about the comp as a whole when the team you once invested in is no longer there.
And though I’m a Sydneysider now, the Kings would have to sign Dominique Wilkins and/or Spud Webb to get this Queenslander enthusiastically shouting the word “Sydney” without some sort of expletive before it.
So until commonsense prevails and the annual rumours of a Bullets return actually come true, it looks like laughing at Kerry O’Keefe laughing at himself is the only way to survive summer.
Praise the gods that winter is coming.