It has been a very interesting off season for the NBL. I’m not blessed with the time I used to have to follow every it minute of the day and this is the first time in a couple of years that I have felt the urge to write about the league I have followed for as long as I can remember.
There is no point rehashing the facts over Kestelman’s not-so-hostile takeover of the NBL. His cash injection is an obvious vehicle to push the league in the right direction, and give it the best shot of regaining the mass appeal it had through the early to mid-nineties. The first thing Uncle Larry did was to fill the NBL offices with the best business minds the league has ever seen.
Whilst it’s great having someone with pockets as deep as Kestelman, as well as his interest and desire to see the league be successful, for some, it will be hard to overlook the potential conflict of interest there is with having a team owner have a controlling stake in the league. I’m certain the NBL has some safeguards, other than ‘trust me’ in order to ensure that the potential conflict of interest doesn’t become actual.
What makes me the most excited about this season is the crop of talent, particularly Aussie talent joining or re-joining different teams. Talent-wise, this is definitely the best we’ve seen in some time.
The return of AJ Ogilvy and Julian Khazzouh will make for some epic battles inside with the likes of Daniel Johnson, and Matty Knight. Add the return of a former MVP, Kevin Lisch, sharp shooting Kiwi legend Kirk Penney, and the last dude to hit the 50 point mark in a game, Chris Goulding, the league is in great shape. Reports that the ‘Outback Shaq’, Nate Jawai, has signed with the Perth Wildcats had many NBL fans reminiscing about the Seamus McPeake era. Now before we get our pitchforks and run the Perth Wildcats out of town over some perceived points cap sketchiness, let’s not forget that that the Wildcats have very little to do with the NBL governance. It was the league administration that allowed the reported points changes. It is not the first time something like this has been done and I bet it won’t be the last.
Remember when Larry Kestelman said that he wanted the NBL to be a place where the best Aussie basketball players wanted to play? Well, it’s happening, and why would we want any bureaucratic red tape preventing Aussie’s best from playing in the best Aussie league? Imagine a Boomer or Tall Black player being left out because of a point or two on the points cap.
The same could be put up for Daniel Johnson’s loyalty reduction for the Adelaide 36ers. Why does it continue when he showed he had no intention of playing for them last season by signing with a team in Europe, only returning when he was cut; or Majok Majok being rated a bargain 5 points given he played in Europe prior to coming to the NBL. But as Kestelman stated earlier, ‘we want the best Aussies playing here’, so to achieve that, you may need to have some creative interpretation of some of the rules. If anything is to be blamed it might be time to revisit the team point cap.
But as it stands we are a month or so away from a new NBL season with effectively a new NBL. The only obstacle in our way is a TV deal, or online steaming package, and each day the need for something is becoming more urgent. We have the strongest talent pool we have had for some time and the fans will want to watch it.
So, whilst this site has been lying dormant, much like the career of Aaron Bruce, I guess this is effectively my full page advert saying “I’m back”, not solely discussing the NBL, but basketball in general. Bring on the season, bring on the highs and lows, and bring on your thoughts in the comments. No time for fancy #hashtags, let’s just get on with it.