This is the trophy that is bringing clubs unstuck.
Well anyone who follows basketball would know that this week the NBL has been making national headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The Brisbane Bullets and the Sydney Kings are on the verge of collapsing and the players are having to fight to get the dollars owed to them.
The ironic part of this whole situation is that these are two of the three clubs, the Melbourne Tigers being the third, who have regularly been championship contenders at one point or another in this decade. Not only have they been contenders, but each has at least one ring. These clubs have triumphed on the court, but this success has not translated to the bottom line: the business of making money.
The definition of ‘success’ in the world of sport can have many arms or elements and which of these you choose to set your focus on can mean the difference between staying afloat and sinking .
Because we are talking about sport, the first and most obvious measurement of success is that which is recorded in the win/loss column or by the number of championship rings on your players fingers.
However it is this second measurement, that being the bottom line, the dollar figure, that sometimes appears to become somewhat skewed in the sporting world in Australia. ‘How secure is your club financially,’ is a point often washed over by a tide of love for your sport and/or passion for your club.
Take the current NBL drama as an example. Clearly both teams in the centre of controversy have demonstrated their on-court success, but any professional sporting organisation is more than just the men or women running around on the court or field week in, week out. It has been that tricky but equally important business end that they have failed to keep in check and could potentially be their demise.
Many armchair warriors who have followed the progress of these clubs would say that there could be some karma coming back around to them. Both the Kings and the Bullets franchises have pushed the envelope when it comes to the salary cap, particularly in the last five or so years.
So now, would you brand either the Kings or the Bullets as a success, keeping in mind that there is a distinct possibility that neither will be participating in the upcoming NBL season? No. Again I will reiterate my point, their teams have been successful, but success of the club as a whole hinges on more than just 10 guys on a court.
Let’s, for the sake of comparison, take a look at the Crocs.
True, the franchise has no championship rings on fingers or trophies in the case since their inception in 1993. Patience by the people in charge and from the fans can begin to wear thin on this matter.
I, however, take comfort in knowing that the Crocs will stand the test of time and will bring a team to the NBL each and every season. I also sleep easy each night knowing my family and I will see the money that is owed to us, on the exact day it is owed to us each and every month that I am contracted with the club.
In this day and age of Australian sport, a player often has to take a gamble, or educated guess on what the best thing for their future is.
Take someone like Sydney Kings player Russell Hinder. The Crocs were in the recruiting race for him a few years ago. Hinder weighed up his options and decided to sign with the Kings. He gambled (albeit correctly) that playing under Brian Goorjian on a daily basis could lead to experience on the National Team.
He got that opportunity. You can never begrudge an athlete for having aspirations to represent his country. Good for Rusty.
However, all week Hinder and his family, which includes a wife and two young children, have been running around in circles trying to meet their monthly budget because he has not seen a payment in his bank account for the past few months.
It would be interesting to hear his response to the question of whether he feels like the Kings are successful.
Would I say the Crocs were successful? Well, I get paid and we will have a team on the court that will take another shot at the championship this season, and for a few more seasons after that. You have to be in it to win it.
You can find my weekly column in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.