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, ‚ÄúThis 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.

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The Crowd Says (28)

  • May 8th 2012 @ 2:24pm
    nordster said | May 8th 2012 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

    do the NBL teams play much against sides from China? They should try and set up annual cup tournament, say top couple of teams from both countries.
    Football has the asian champions league which will be great over the next 20 years especially.
    For basketball, do they do anything similar at a regional level?

    • Roar Rookie

      May 8th 2012 @ 3:19pm
      Sav said | May 8th 2012 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

      That is a very good question and you have raised a topic that is up for discussion.

      I believe the Perth Wildcats recently played against a couple of Chinese league teams but it is something that doesn’t happen often.

      Asia does have a basketball equivalent to the AFC Champions League called FIBA Asia Champions Cup which the Middle Eastern clubs have dominated over the last decade. Sub continental tournaments like the Southeast Asia Basketball Association Champions Cup and West Asia Basketball Association Champions Cup exist also. However Australia unlike football is not a member of Asia, we are a member of Oceania.

      Basketball Australia have floated the idea of joining Asia before however they believe the benefits of being in Oceania are greater. The reason for this is because of the number of placings Oceania receieve in the World Championships and Olympics. The top two Oceania teams qualify for WC and the Oceania champions qualify for the Olympics with the second place team getting a second chance through the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Seeing as the only other team in oceania that even bothers to compete is New Zealand this ensures Australia have a place in every WC and every Olympic games.

      Some might argue that even in Asia we would still qualify however with traditional power houses like China and Lebanon along with new powers Iran and Jordan standing in the way is it worth taking the risk? The WC and the Olympics are the biggest stages in world basketball and at the moment they are stages we are guaranteed to compete on.

      I might actually do a little research and write an article about the potential benefits of joining Asia because I am someone who is for it. Thanks for asking such a great question.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 5:32pm
        Jerome said | May 8th 2012 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

        When FFA aligned with the AFC, it also made life tougher for teams qualifying for the Olympics as well as underage and women’s tournaments. Obviously the pathway for the men’s senior team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup became a fairer one than the previous one-off playoff format, often against a battle-hardened opponent who had played against tougher opposition in their home confederation facing our lads whose toughest assignment had been against New Zealand. But the failure of the Olyroos shows that life in Asia isn’t a piece of cake. Nor have our clubs set the AFC Champions League on fire, the exception perhaps being Adelaide United who seem to have a knack for it.

        Nonetheless, despite the tougher life for Australian teams not called “Socceroos”, the benefits of being in Asia are immense. More meaningful competition, more and regular fixtures and a spurring of technical development that will put the game and, importantly, our national teams in better stead in years to come. The Socceroos brand has taken off, helped by the fact that supporters can now attend several matches in a year, not just one big match every four.

        There is little reason to doubt that BA could provide the same benefits for basketball by moving into Asia. Imagine regular Boomers fixtures and NBL clubs pitting themselves against Asia’s best. There will be benefits for the Opals and WNBL too. The pain of missing a few tournaments will be mitigated by the growth in interest, especially media interest, in the sport.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 8th 2012 @ 5:56pm
          Sav said | May 8th 2012 @ 5:56pm | ! Report


        • May 8th 2012 @ 10:55pm
          Aljay said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:55pm | ! Report

          My main points are listed below, but just a quick note further to them, we are already above every country in Asia in playing standard, and well well above every country other than China. There would be zero to gain in skill development or public interest by playing Asian teams. A Boomers B team would be better competition (or New Zealand). We need to be concentrating on returning to the top 4 in the world consistently, through beating the best of Europe and eventually the US.

          Missing tournaments would be a tragic setback for Australian Basketball (See 2002 world championship), this is not soccer where qualifying counts as a success.

  • May 8th 2012 @ 3:59pm
    Matthew Skellett said | May 8th 2012 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

    Mmmmmm good , positive article James , however I think making Ms Keneally the Public Face of Basketball in this country is a mistake , the stench of corrupt, self-serving behaviour in which she has starred in her political past still lingers especially with her big-noting herself at the cost to her own party -Ms Keneally needs to shut up and go away and hide until she can find something altruistic to put her manicured hand to . As to whether we stay in Oceania or go to Asia – I think we are grown -up enough to go to the big stage -let us stop stifling NZ in their quest for a shot at an Olympic Medal- after all if we’re good enough, we’re good enough no matter who we play or don’t play and we can’t improve if we’re playing the same limited pool of countries everytime .

  • May 8th 2012 @ 6:23pm
    cliffclaven said | May 8th 2012 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

    I have returned to the basketball fold in the past couple of years. I really enjoy the NBL even though it meant having to tape the games from late night tv this season.

    It seems to me that basketball is becoming a little like football. Our best players go over to Europe. I don’t see this as a problem as long as they come back after making their money – just like the socceroos so we can see them more – i.e i hope people like Joe Ingles returns. It aslo frees up room for younger talent to shine.

    It is great that basketaball has got its house in order – in terms of stability and can grow steadily here.

    James – Is your last name Greek? If so, is there any reason why Greece is a massive basketball country but it does not seem to translate with people of greek heritage out here? any thoughts?

    Also – with Olympiacos FC coming – do you think there would be a market to watch their Basketball club tour against teams like Kings and Tigers??

    Just some ideas.

    Also – a shift to Asia would be good.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 8th 2012 @ 7:17pm
      Sav said | May 8th 2012 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

      Yes I am Greek. The reason basketball is popular in Greece is thanks to Nikos Galis who dominated the Greek League and Europe in the 1980s. Thanks to him we managed to win the 1987 Eurobasket and for quite some time after that basketball was number 1.

      Now why is basketball not so big amongst our Greek community here in Australia? It is a good question, I believe it to be a generation thing. The Greeks here in Australia migrated here in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s well before basketball was big in Greece. So when the children of these families grew up, they grew up in football loving families rather than basketball loving families.

      However with that said, and I can only speak on behalf of the Canberra community, basketball is played by a lot of Greeks here and most of them are aware of the current glories of Greek basketball. I believe there is a market for the basketball teams of Olympiakos or Panathinaikos to tour Australia. I’m sure Melbourne would be a great host for a Greek team, they would sell out an arena. With that said though the Greek national basketball team will be here in Australia to play the Boomers in a pre-olympic warm up game, this will be a good test to see how much the Greeks here love there basketball side.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 10:57pm
        Aljay said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

        James, whats with the cheering when their team is at the stripe?

        • Roar Rookie

          May 9th 2012 @ 1:55am
          Sav said | May 9th 2012 @ 1:55am | ! Report

          I guess they want their team to hit free throws?

  • May 8th 2012 @ 6:45pm
    James said | May 8th 2012 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

    My view, as much of an optimimist and NBL supporter as I am, is that the NBL will not become a mainstream sport for quite some time, but articles such as these are needed that portray the league in a good light. We get so many negative articles, when people read them it imfluences them. Everyone wants to follow a winner and following a league that has promise is no different. Hopefully Perth and NZ can fill these stadiums on a regular basis, tv beams these images into peoples loungerooms and they say ‘hey, the NBL is like it was in the 90’s – lets go to a game!

    • May 11th 2012 @ 12:28pm
      Nathan of Perth said | May 11th 2012 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

      I think the NBL and broadcasters will be looking at Perth Arena anxiously. If they can regularly put that thing to near capacity it will be a *great* image.

  • May 8th 2012 @ 10:40pm
    Aljay said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

    Moving to Asia would be a terrible idea for Basketball Australia. A qualifying odessy against low-ranked nations that puts our entry to the biggest two international tournaments at risk? Really?

    We would gain nothing from playing countries ranked well, well below us in worn out, far-flung gyms. We have rarely lost to Asian teams in a competitive match (couple of losses to China in friendlies is it I think) with Lebanon currently ranked 34th spots and probably below NSW Metro in playing standard. It’s also hard enough to get a full first choice team together for the games we do play, without asking them and the BA budget to stretch themselves across trips to minnow nations when a 3-and-done series against NZ will get us there. This is not soccer – qualifying is not a big deal, winning a medal is. Additionally, it would mean asking our women’s team, the clear number 2 team in the world over the last 15 years, to have to qualify against countries that do not even have a national women’s league.

    Better off with a short qualifying round through Oceania (The only Asian team that could trouble NZ is China anyway, and possibly Iran) and then spending the BA budget on a good series of warm up games against fellow top 5 countries.

    Much has been made of soccer’s transfer to the Asian region but unlike us they have the benefit of a worthwhile regional championship, development opportunities against better opposition and the ability to turn a profit from home qualifying matches.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 9th 2012 @ 1:51am
      Sav said | May 9th 2012 @ 1:51am | ! Report

      I don’t disagree with much of what you say you actually make a few very good points however I feel a need to jump to the defence of the Asian teams. Asian teams on many occasions have proven to be very competitive. Don’t forget the 2010 WC in which Jordan almost beat Australia and lead 75-70 with 1:10 remaining but eventually lost 75-76. They also gave it to Argentina in the same tournament and were within 5 during the 4th against them but eventually lost 79-88. My favourite though was Lebanon’s 74-73 win over an NBA stacked team France in the 2006 WC. The teams that qualify through Asia are not write offs and have proven to be of a pretty good standard. I still remember Michael Jordan saying that Fadi El Khatib of Lebanon was the best player outside of the NBA. Now we all know Michael Jordan isn’t the greatest judge of talents (Kwame Brown) but that is a pretty big statement.

      Before I go just a hypothetical for you. If the NBL team nearest to you was competing in the Asian Champions Cup and the Beijing Ducks who are lead in scoring by former NBA all star Stephon Marbury came to town, would you go watch?

  • May 8th 2012 @ 11:02pm
    Bludger said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

    As a long time fan of NBL and basketball, my thoughts.

    # NBL should be played over the winter time. Noone wants to sit inside during the warmer months with longer daylight hours. The policy has not worked.
    # Pay tv/Fox Sports almost killed off the NBL. Beware other sports, I see rugby union down that path.
    # Basketball worldwide should ditch this soccer confederation model. It stifles the international game. Cannot even recall the last time a decent international team was out here. Maybe the warm ups to the Olympics in 2000 when the US played Oz in Melbourne. Playing NZ just does not sell tickets or rate on tv.
    # The growth of the game played at grass roots is astounding. The game itself is loved. It just needs to be linked to a well watched national competition.
    # Private ownership needs to be dumped. It does NOT work! It cost so many towns their teams. Geelong, Brisbane, Hobart, Newcastle, Canberra. It needs to get back to club and member models. You won’t make a profit owning a team. So why do they persist with this madness?

    Not sure what will become of the NBL, the sport of basketball will thrive regardless.

    • May 9th 2012 @ 12:10am
      Johnno said | May 9th 2012 @ 12:10am | ! Report

      add Launceston Casino to that too. Plus the great CBA was lost too a real shame fro Basketball in OZ, places like MT Gambier in south australia lost there team. Victoria and south australia have been the traditional powerhouse of producing talent in Australia and NBRL chmapionships too.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 9th 2012 @ 2:09am
      Sav said | May 9th 2012 @ 2:09am | ! Report

      – Definately should be played during Winter.

      – Free to air is definately the way to go however if you can combine the two and have a presence on both plat forms and as long as you are making more money out of it i don’t see why you can’t do both.

      – I like confederations so I’ll disagree with you here. We do however need to drag some of the big fish down under to play the Boomers. The Greek national team is actually coming here to play some pre-olympic warm up games in Melbourne and Geelong later this year.

      – Grass roots is astounding, I coach a few teams here in Canberra and I see it first hand week in week out.

      – Private ownership isn’t the devil however I like community based ownership models. I believe the Wollongong Hawks have some kind of community ownership going on, and I believe the rest of the league should look to follow suit.

      • May 9th 2012 @ 12:49pm
        koberulz said | May 9th 2012 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

        Playing in winter would mean competing with AFL (which, unlike in the NBL’s heyday, now also plays games at night).

        As far as international basketball goes, there have been some changes made by FIBA a month or so ago that will mean the Boomers facing higher-quality international teams far more often.

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