The New Zealand Breakers and everyone involved deserve more credit than what they are getting.
After being written off as play-offs contenders months ago, they currently sit fourth on the NBL ladder and have a big chance to make the finals if they can manage a win against South East Melbourne Phoenix in their last game of the regular season on Friday night.
The story of the Breakers this season has been wrongfully viewed as a negative one. The media have portrayed the Breakers as an organisation that couldn’t do anything right and were in utter turmoil, which is completely false. Head office was questioned on every decision they made, but they currently sit above the majority of the competition on the ladder.
Another narrative some members of the media used was that the Breakers were losing their fans, but they;ve set many attendance records this season that hadn’t been broken since their championship years.
The hiring of coaching staff was also challenged by certain critics. When the Breakers announced they had re-signed director of basketball Dan Shamir for a further two years everyone was in disbelief. Again it was portrayed as another terrible decision. This is again wrong, because under Dan Shamir these players play with grit, determination and a belief that they can win any game. They want to play for their coach and it shows.
Teams need a stable environment, and this ensures that.
Acquisitions of personnel were also unfairly questioned. Players are having career-best seasons, including New Zealand local Finn Delany. Numerous players have received NBL end-of-season award nominations, including MVP candidate Scotty Hopson. Next Star RJ Hampton has been seen as a negative acquisition too, but even excluding his on-court contribution he should be seen only as a positive for the Breakers. He has definitely contributed to the record-breaking crowds and contributed to the new fans across the globe watching the NBL and, more importantly, the New Zealand Breakers.
Acquiring Glen Rice Jr may have not worked out, but he had a lot of upside worth taking a risk for, as seen in his few games for the Breakers, plus he had a previous relationship with head coach Dan Shamir, who wouldn’t have taken a chance on that.
Breakers CEO and owner Matt Walsh is a smart, innovative and passionate owner who only wants what is best for the franchise. He is going to make decisions and take risks that he sees can benefit his organisation and he deserves a lot more credit for giving his everything which is all you can ask for an owner of a basketball team.
Walsh has put the Breakers in a great position both on and off the court and should only be praised for a wonderful job he has done for this franchise. He has created a model of structure and stability with the mix of having a view on current immediate success but with also having a plan in place for a successful long-term future.
Journalists and fans alike have tried to run this franchise into the ground by trying to tarnish the integrity of the organisation and all who are involved for no apparent reason other than to create an interesting headline or story, However, whether or not the Breakers make the play-offs this season, it has undoubtedly been a success and should only be viewed as such.
I have no doubt the New Zealand Breakers will in the near future taste the ultimate success of a championship. That is the expectation that has been set.