After one of Australia’s most successful domestic teams, the Melbourne Tigers, did not file papers to participate in the NBL next season, the league decided to cancel the 2009-2010 season due to lack of interest (discuss).
The stoppage of play will be the first time in thirty years the league will not have a season.
By not filing the requisite papers, the Tigers joined the Melbourne South Dragons in protesting the 2009-2010 season and leaving a huge hole in the revamped competition that the NBL has been developing over the last couple of years.
“We don’t see (the new format) being sustainable.” Tigers co-owner Seamus McPeake said.
Without the representation from the Tigers and South Dragons, the NBL would have been without teams in Australia’s three largest cities (in regards to population); Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Additionally, these three cities have won the NBL championship the last seven seasons – since 2002 when the Adelaide 36ers brought home the title.
The Melbourne South Dragons won the championship in 2009, the Tigers won the title in 2006 and 2008, Brisbane in 2007, and the Sydney Kings three-peated in 2003, 2004, and 2005. None of these teams filed papers to participate next season.
The Melbourne Tigers are not only one of the most successful NBL teams, they are one of three teams that have won a record four championships in the NBL, but also one of it’s most popular. The Tigers are the club that Andrew Gaze, Australia’s most famous basketballer, spent his entire Aussie professional career from 1984-2005, a span of twenty-one years.
So you can see why their withdrawal from the league was a huge blow to Basketball Australia’s NBL renovation plan.
The Australian National Basketball League has been in trouble for some time with the Sydney Kings collapse before last season and the Brisbane Bullets the year previous; even the most successful teams cannot maintain in the NBL (discuss). And with this recent news out of Melbourne has not only affected next season, but could signal the complete collapse of thirty-year old league.
Plan B for Players, Coaches
Without a 2009-10 season, roughly 200 ANBL players, coaches, and staff will have to start looking for other means of paying their bills.
Nathan Herbert, a guard with the South Dragons, plans on getting back into nursing to fill the time between seasons. “It’s unfortunate that’s it happened but maybe this is the shake up its needed to move forward,” Herbert said. “I’ll just take the time to get back into nursing and hopefully when it all does get sorted out I’ll get a chance to play again.”
“I’ve got a major essay to finish this week, then I’ll be polishing off my CV,” said star guard Jason Smith, who attends Sydney University. “I’d like to be doing what I love and have been training for my whole life but it looks like it’s over for me.”
But what of the older NBL players? Players that have given their career and made a living in the NBL such 35-year old Chris Anstey? Anstey is one of the most decorated Australian players ever to put on an NBL jersey; a 15-year veteran of the league, a two-time Olympian, and twice was named the NBL’s MVP.
“”It’s disappointing because every athlete wants to retire on his own terms and my body is the best it’s been. But at this age taking 16 months off isn’t an option.” Anstey said. “I don’t want to be retired, but I see no other alternative… I doubt I’ll play again.”
Links and Resources: Discuss: NBL cancels 2009-2010 season/Australian Basketball Forum (Interbasket Forum), Have Tigers dealt NBL a fatal blow? (Illawarra Mercury), Big Changes Afoot for Australian League (Interbasket), Next year’s NBL season cancelled due to lack of interest (The Daily Telegraph), Nathan Herbert will stick to his day job with no NBL club to play with (Geelong Advertiser)