The Roar
The Roar


Basketball's best move is to take on footy

Can the Boomers beat Spain in 2012 London Olympics Basketball? Image: MARK RALSTON / AFP
26th September, 2013

We all know that guys in expensive suits run pro sports and that’s just fine – so long as they believe in them.

Of course, some people thrive on being movers and shakers, rather than working on things that will actually improve their product.

The NBA’s idea to have player nicknames on jerseys is one such move that should shake up long-time fans.

Jerseys marked with “King James” and “The Truth” will offer another lucrative stream of income, I suppose.

Meanwhile, the NBL has also been on the move lately, with the signing of several marquee imports, a solid slate of trial games and its season launch by Sydney Harbour.

Insiders are excited but presumably most sports fan missed all this.

That’s okay and perhaps to be expected amid all the footy finals hype. Taking on footy however, is something I’d like to discuss shortly.

The NBL, which once traded in hoopla with high flyers like Dwayne McLain and Lanard Copeland, is hoping to make an impact this upcoming season. The league’s head people, including interim chief executive Steve Dunn, are starting to ask very good questions in an effort to push the comp forward.

The preseason offering has been high quality and also gave the league a chance to tinker, chiefly with the way the sport is officiated.


The NBL ran what it called “a sweeping review” of its officiating during the preseason Blitz tournament, which top ref Mal Cooper said will lead to a more attractive style of basketball this season.

Using 30 hours of footage, Cooper’s crew dissected the games like they were watching the Zapruder film.

Apparently on one play, Oscar Forman was heavily fouled, sending his head back, and to the left.

Seriously though, the point of the review – like all the other moves – was to make the league better, more attractive and consistent. It’s all a work in progress, said Cooper.

For instance, early in the tournament, foul counts were high. The NBL watched the tape, took some notes and the end result will be a greater amount of contact allowed in the paint.

It’s hands off on the perimeter though. Ball handlers will benefit from a little more space between clingy defenders.

I hope Metta World Peace (previously known as Ron Artest) wasn’t planning a late career stint Down Under.

Playing hoops during footy season is another good talking point right now. NBL legend Cal Bruton recently said the league should go back to being a winter competition, as it was in the glory days.


Nostalgia has the effect of colouring choices we have now because if I had it my way we’d go back to Carfino-length shorts.

But you know what, I think Cal’s onto something here.

“In summer people have too many options,” said Bruton. “They want to be outdoors, they want to travel. In winter, it’s cold and people want to be indoors. You can sit out in the cold at the football or you can come to the basketball. Let’s give people that choice.”

This is true of course. Some people, especially mums and dads, would love the chance to take the kids to a sporting event that’s indoors, with seats so close to the action they can actually follow it, amusing accident-prone mascots, and perhaps most importantly, just four short quarters.

Dunn called the NBL spectacular: a visually exciting product and one of the most accessible brands on the Australian sporting landscape.

I think it certainly could be those things, with a few more good moves.