Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Longtime Herald Sun basketball journalist Grantley Bernard wrote an article earlier this week that was right on the money for my liking. Below I have included the whole article for your reading enjoyment. I beleive it was that good.
CHRISTMAS is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of a religious saviour, the folklore of three wise men and the miracle it is purported to be.
What the NBL would give for a saviour, three wise men and a miracle right now.
That might be overstating the situation for a league in transition (some would say turmoil), but it needs an awakening as it heads towards its own Easter with the competition's planned resurrection.
The problem with this resurrection is a danger of merely propping up a corpse in the corner until the smell becomes too much to bear.
It is a bit like Weekend At Bernie's, but without the laughs.
Seriously, the proposed reform of basketball in Australia, especially the NBL as the masthead of the game, is not reform. It is more like an adjustment that will have the NBL, or whatever it is going to be called, heading down a familiar path.
Having scanned the 163-page report into basketball reform, most of it is about business, corporate and administration structure.
Most of it has been said before. The most visible aspect of the reform process, the NBL, its teams and games, will not change to the extent that people see change.
The report is broken into sections and sub-sections, including one entitled "Critical Initiative 2 - Create a Vibrant Showcase", followed by various ways that goal will be achieved.
It is also quite obvious how those goals may not be achieved.
* Creating a new league completely dissociated from the old NBL new name, new licenses, improved resources . . .
The new league will not be completely dissociated from the old NBL because the same teams with the same names will be involved. Maybe even the NBL name will be retained.
* Achieving a higher quality of competition with fewer teams . . .
The league is now at 10 teams and the saturation of talent means there should be more teams rather then fewer.
* Ensuring financial and operational stability through challenging club selection criteria . . .
What if only three clubs can meet the challenging selection criteria? Then what? There is no league or the selection criteria has to be compromised.
* The new NBL must be secured for the long term by a new business model that protects the financial integrity of the competition . . .
Financial integrity means spending responsibly, which means spending less, which means a reduced - not increased as recommended - salary cap and better venue deals. They are the two core financial issues killing teams.
* The selection and engagement of the best professional players in Australia . . .
Apart from Andrew Bogut, Nathan Jawai, Brad Newley, David Andersen and Matt Nielsen, the best Australian players already are in the NBL.
* The implementation of equalisation arrangements in the form of salary caps and points systems to maintain a competitive balance.
The salary and points caps are already in place. Stronger policing is needed.
There is plenty in the report, but there's nothing to really make your head snap.
Hence the interim board overseeing the reform is heading in the same old direction and is destined to go nowhere.
What has to be realised is the NBL is not the AFL or NRL or A-League. Just like America's National Hockey League is not the NFL, NBA or MLB. But the NHL has rejuvenated itself since the owners locked out the players for the entire 2004-05 season and enacted reform.
The NHL was in crisis with expiring TV contracts, small crowds and player-salary blow-outs, so the owners took action to make their business financially viable and thriving.
"It was like taking medicine that tasted awful," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently told Sporting News."But you knew you had to keep taking it to get better."
The NBL needs to take a big dose of reform. All it is getting is a spoonful of adjustment.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Vote for Andrew Bogut and make him a slam dunk at this year's NBA All Star Game in Phoenix.
Australia, it is time we had one of our own represented at a NBA All Star Game.
Now is the time to make it happen and vote for Milwaukee Buck centre Andrew Bogut. With less than three weeks remaining before the final votes are counted, time is of the essence.
I have made it as easy as possible for you to vote. Just click on the All Star logo below and cast your vote.
I'm sure Andrew will give us all a shout out from Phoenix if we can make it happen for him, just as China does for Yao Ming.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
caption time: There is a CD up for grabs for the best one. I now you guys can get creative with this great photo.
I truly believe it is time the NBL broadened their horizons and decided to use some of the material that bloggers provide to the basketball reading public.
Very much like NBA.com use the likes of superstar Gilbert Arenas and others to spice up their otherwise generic website. Fans love to hear from the players and blogging is a great way to connect and be somewhat interactive with them.
It is important that the league targets guys that are serious about producing worthy and insightful work, but I feel this is another avenue that has yet to be utilised by the NBL.
I'm surprised that club websites do not have some of their players blogging.
What got me thinking about the underutilisation (yes, it is a word in my dictionary) of this media outlet was a recent game the Crocs had against the Sydney Spirit in cockroach territory.
First, the game was sponsored by http://www.andrewbogut.net.au/. Bogut ponied up 30K of his own money to help out his mates at the Spirit. (Just between you and me Andrew, for a 30K donation the courtside announcer could have mentioned your website a little more often. I felt everyone should have been leaving that place just wanting to visit your cyber world once they got home.)
The NBL does link Bogut's website on the NBL's official website. (Can JR get a link?)
Also sitting in the crowd was the king of basketball forums, Derek Nielsen. Nielsen is the gatekeeper of the Ozhoops forum.
Whether you think these forums sites are good or bad, they are here to stay and they serve a purpose.
I feel Nielsen's expertise could be used in a situation such as this. Live blogging from the game. I'm not sure if any other media outlet was giving live, up to date scores on this game, but why not have Nielsen doing a live online analysis of the game.
Bring something new to the table for the fans.
Now I'm not sure as to the expense and magnitude you need to go to make something like this happen but, "if you build it they will come".
If people know it is there, they will keep an eye on the score while they are mowing the lawn on a Sunday afternoon.
Another basketball diehard just trying to do his bit for the sport.You need to check out his site. He has some great action photos. Too bad most of them are of the Wollongong Hawks.
Last but not least is asternwarning.A Sydney King's fan from way back who now calls England home. He has been a long time blogger, mainly about his NBA Jailblazers, but I thought it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on how the game is travelling since he last took in a game, Down Under.
Now hold your horses before you climb all over me. Sure the NBL can not allow for anyone and everyone to come under the NBL media banner but take this game for example. There would have been more outcasts (no Andre 3000 and Big Boi were not at the game) then mainstream media at the game.For a sport that is looking for improved media exposure, maybe it is time to look outside the normal parameters and include some of these other avenues.
I will use my own blog as an example and be very generous with the numbers. I will have more traffic come through my site in a week than over half the teams get at their home games.The game is alive but are we moving with the times?
Nate Robinson with the tip jam!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
YOU can trust me when I say there will not be too many eggnogs going down the hatch of Crocodiles' players and coaching staff in the next couple of days.
The fact is if we want to be serious NBL championship contenders, the Crocodiles' yule time celebrating will need to be as speedy and efficient as Santa's house visits.
Yes, we'll all endeavour to have an enjoyable time with family and friends, but the second the clock strikes midnight on Friday, it will be back to business as usual.
After we fell to a pair of disappointing losses last weekend, particularly to the Sydney Spirit, the Christmas-New Year period takes on huge importance for us.
Take our eyes off the ball for a second by getting overly caught up in the festive spirit and all of a sudden you can be free-falling down the ladder.
That's the reality of this time of year – I have seen it happen before to many teams – and with the NBL as close as ever this season, the repercussions could be as deadly.
One win or one loss could be the difference between battling for third and fourth spot – which guarantees a home final – or potentially missing out on the finals altogether. With 10 games to go in the 2008/09 regular season, we're determined to avoid the latter.
Townsville in particular have a lot of games over this holiday period, starting with the always difficult road trip to Perth on Boxing Day for a December 27 clash.
We then head home to The Swamp to battle NBL leaders the South Dragons.
They are two difficult assignments, particularly travelling to Challenge Stadium where we haven't produced the greatest record in recent times.
Our last game there in November saw us on the end of a 37-point hammering.
But the reality is, if we want to be considered one of the better teams – up there with South, New Zealand, Melbourne, Perth – we need to be able to win these tough games.
These are the sides we will be playing in the playoffs and hopefully challenging for the NBL championship trophy, so rather than fear the trips, I see them as a positive.
We have already proven we can beat these teams when we are playing at our best, so if we can repeat the dose, it can act as a real momentum builder.
Although I have indicated the team will brush over Christmas, I think our day away from the court tomorrow will have its benefits to the remainder of our campaign also.
I'll still be thinking about basketball – that just comes with the job – but sitting around with family, ripping into some ham and pulling out the bat and ball for some backyard cricket all proves a nice distraction – a mental refresher. The key, as I said, is to enjoy it but not get too distracted.
You cn read my article every Wednesday in the Townsville Bulletin.
I have been reconnected to the cyber world so there are no more excuses for not blogging. (Take note Andrew Bogut!)
Have a great day and I hope you get all that you wanted from the Fat Jolly Fellow.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sorry that I've been a little slack of late, but I have just moved house and am waiting for my Internet to be reconnected.
I have been told by the authorities it will all be happening later today.
Until then, I wish everyone a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I'll be back later today with a new entry. It seems that I have been in the wilderness for the past few days, where in fact I have just been part of a very disappointing Crocs road double.
See you later today.
In the meantime enjoy this Carmelo/LeBron high school footage.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Many of you may have already heard about the demise of Cairns Taipans and the many side stories that seem to be swirling around the remnants only add to the colour of the whole situation. I debated whether or not to add to the publicity that has already been generated, but came to the conclusion that ignoring it would be along the same lines as the old white elephant.
The story began last week when the Taipans organization dropped the bombshell that they were going into voluntary administration. Much like the Sydney Spirit before them, the players met and agreed to take a 45% pay cut which, when added to the NBL bailout package, would allow them to finish this season.
Imports Dave Thomas and former Croc Larry Abney, however, were not to be part of this plan and were sacked. As recently as Monday, cuts were still being made and Coach Alan Black was relieved of his duties.
It was just the last year or so that NBL circles were talking about the supposed big dollars being thrown toward players to make the move to the Far North, so what caused co-owner and car yard tycoon John O’Brien to pack up his ball and go home?
My personal opinion on the situation is that this guy has just made an intellegent business decision and he was simply allowed to execute the decision.
I am also going to take an educated guess and say that Mr O’Brien pulled up stumps now because it was becoming more and more obvious that the Taipans were not going to play a part in the newly revamped NBL for next season.
The one question that constantly enters my mind about his decision, however, is “Would he have been so hasty in pulling the pin mid-season if the Snakes were sitting on top of the ladder instead of suffering a seven game losing streak?”. This question is obviously a rhetorical one, as now that the decision has been made we will never really know.
Mr O’Brien’s cost cutting exercise has left many players and their families struggling through the next few months in “survival mode” and you can’t help but feel for them.
Taking a paycut of that magnitude midway through the season can be the equivalent of one member of a family losing their job. I am not sure how some of the guys are making it work but my hat goes is off to them. I have been through financial difficulty of this magnitude in my time as a professional athlete and it took my family and I years to recover financially. I would not wish something similar on anyone I know.
The next question I continue to ask myself is, in bailing both the Taipans and the Spirit out, has the NBL set a precident for teams who are not only financially struggling, but who are in doubt over whether they are to be a part of the future of basketball in Australia? Will we see a trend of clubs dropping out early to cut their losses and lining up with their hands out asking for the NBL’s help?
I hope the answer is no for a couple of reasons: #1 the NBL does not need any more of its financial woes brought out in the media. It’s just not good for the league, present or future. And #2 because I can’t imagine the coffers being full enough to support any more franchise collapses.
When you live and love your job as I do, it is always disappointing to see its image painted in dark light. I could fill many pages with my personal thoughts and feelings on the future of the NBL. My first hope for the NBL would simply be that we get on with the basketball and turn our attention to what appears to this season, which right now appears to be one of the most hotly contested races we have had in a very long time.
My article can be found in the Townsville Bulletin every Wednesday.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This is from today's Cairns Post.
LIFE after full professionalism has already started for the Cairns Taipans who last night held their first evening training session.
Full professionalism had previously allowed the NBL players to train twice during the day, completing on-court sessions in the morning and weights and individual shooting drills in the afternoon.
But after the club was placed in administration last week, several players were forced to reconsider their finances and seek outside employment.
Former coach Alan Black, whose contract was terminated yesterday by the club’s financial administrators, initiated the move but visited training only briefly last night, dropping in to farewell players barely an hour after learning he had been axed.
"I said this to the guys, it may be that we need to train at night and make it more like an ABA program that an NBL program," Black said last week when the players learned the club had been placed in voluntary administration. "If that’s the case, then that’s the case."
"We may end up training late at night or doing weights early in the morning to get it done, however, we can get it done."
Captain Martin Cattalini said the players had felt sorry for Black after learning of his axing.
"We were shocked but after the week we’ve had, you learn to expect anything," he said.
Despite the woes of the past week, Cattalini reiterated the need for community support at tomorrow night’s home game against the Melbourne Tigers.
"We want that Wednesday night game against the Tigers to be a sellout so they can see us and we can say thank you," Cattalini said last week after the players voted to take a 45 per cent pay cut to save the team.
The Taipans ended a seven-game losing streak when they beat the Blaze in an overtime thriller on the Gold Coast last Saturday night.
The Taipans leapfrogged Wollongong on the competition ladder with the win but face a tough test against the third-placed Tigers tomorrow.
- And to top off the week for the Taipans, young Dwayne Vale has been caught drink driving.
- Wollongong's favourite basketball son, Gordie McLeod talks about where basketball has gone wrong.
Kenyon Martin talks about his "lips" tattoo.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Corey Williams could not send this to me quick enough. I think he sent it during half time of the game. You are the unluckiest man alive Sav!
With the Taipans debacle still not sitting right with me, I will leave my muddled thoughts for another day.
In the meantime let's take a look at how Aussies are going abroad and recap this round's NBL games. There were two games that went into OT baby!
Round 13 NBL
Adelaide 100-79 Townsville recap
Perth 129-120 Adelaide recap
Melbourne 98-107 South Dragons recap
Gold Coast 88-97 Cairns recap
Townsville 104-99 Wollongong recap
- Aussie centre Andrew Bogut went for 20 and 20 as he helped his Bucks defeat the Pacers.
- Sydneysider Anatoly Bose helps Nicholls St (NCAA) to victory.
- Utah's Luke Nevill matched up against Oklahoma's potential Player of the Year big man, Blake Griffin. Nevill and the Utes feel short.
- Pat Mills and his St Mary's Gaels had a close one against the Aztecs of San Diego St. Mills hit some crucial baskets down the stretch to close out the game for the Gaels.
- Aron Baynes and WSU too strong for Montana St.
- Ben Dowdell helps Santa Clara to easy win.
- Brad Newley has a solid 12 and 6 as his team coasts to an easy win in the Greek league.
- Aleks Maric helps his team while Daniel Kickert has to watch from the bench.
- Sydney Spirit captain Jason Smith advised teammates to take other deals.
- WAtoday.com.au weighs in on the reform debate.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Due to a busy week for myself "The OT" studio was left to collect dust this week.
I'm sorry to disappoint our regular listeners but we will be back next week with our normal great show.
In the meantime, I have uploaded the complete Andrew Bogut interview from a few weeks back.
Enjoy and remember to tune in next week.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It has to be said, things were looking pretty dismal.
The timing of our slump was another thing working in our favour. It was still relatively early in the season and, in a competition as close as this year's NBL appears to be, we had plenty of time to turn the ship around.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The National Basketball League released the following statement from interim Chief Executive Officer Scott Derwin in response to the announcement by the Cairns Taipans that the club had been placed into voluntary administration.
“I received a call from Cairns Taipans majority owner, John O’Brien late last night informing us that he had placed the club into voluntary administration,” said Derwin.
“The decision to hand the club over to administrators has come as a shock to the League as it had received no previous indication from the Taipans that the club was experiencing extreme financial difficulties.
“There was also no prior indication from the club that it intended to take this course of action when the recent issues surrounding the Sydney Spirit were being addressed, which is disappointing.”
“The League understands that John O’Brien is acting in a responsible and ethical manner by appointing an administrator, choosing not to run the risk of trading while insolvent,” said Mr Derwin. “We are confident the appropriate administrator has been appointed to make sound business decisions regarding the financial viability of the club.
“I will be meeting with the administrator today to determine the extent of the club’s financial situation and to explore all possible options for the Taipans to continue to play in the NBL. However, it is the administrators, which will ultimately decide the future of the club.
“We remain hopeful that a way can be found for the club to play out the rest of the season.”
Derwin stated that the recent issues surrounding the financial viability of some NBL clubs highlighted why basketball in Australia was undergoing significant reform. “Basketball now has a unified national governing body to run the sport with a revised management structure focused on delivering strong commercial and community benefits for the sport."
“The need for greater accountability and commercial viability will see the introduction of a more stringent criteria for the ‘New NBL’, in terms of ownership guidelines and financial guarantees, when it is launched next season.”
Monday, December 8, 2008
For those that do not know, Adelaide 36ers rookie guard has challenged me to a game of H-O-R-S-E via YouTube.
Bruce kicked off the challenge with a regulation half court shot. Nice one, but who really knows how many times it took him to make it. Well done young fella, golf clap for that effort.
I just so happened to match his shot in front of a few hundred kids. One take wonder I guess you could say.
So back to you Mr Bruce as this is my return of serve (below) to your rather weak half court shot. I like the big stage so I decided I would create mine in a game situation.
Enjoy and I look forward to Wednesday night at the Dome.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Many tipsters would consider this round of the NBL one that featured many upsets.
First, the Crocs got the ball rolling by defeating the league leading NZ Breakers on Kiwi soil. The Sydney Spirit continued their good form with a solid win over the lackluster Cairns Taipans up north. Move to Saturday and the Adelaide 36ers are talking playoffs again after a solid win over the slumping Melbourne Tigers. Then on Sunday afternoon on the Gold Coast, Perth's mind stayed at the beach as the Blaze ran away with just their third win of the season.
Below you will find complete recaps and boxscores of all games from the past round.
Hawks 78-112 Dragons recap
Breakers 88-104 Crocs recap
Taipans 78-92 Spirit recap
36ers 102-94 Tigers recap
Dragons 101-83 Hawks recap
Crocs 92-87 Spirit recap
Blaze 129-97 Wildcats recap
- Andrew Bogut helps out Sydney Spirit with a $30k donation, but he is not ready to own a team.
My hat's off to Bogut. What a great gesture from a guy that did not need to do this. I'm sure it helps that Coach Rob Beveridge become a gold medal winning coach at the World u/19 championships a few years ago with Bogut being the MVP.
- I happened to have reached a few milestones over this week's games but it wasn't until I read this article I realized I was the first player in NBL history to peel off 350 games straight.
People have been asking me "what is the secret?" I just love to play, so it will take a lot to keep me from suiting up for a game.
- South Dragons coach Brian Goorjian is eyeing off a top two spot.
- Julius Hodge is blogging and he is "not drinking the poison".
- Damien Martin was playing with a broken wrist despite doctors telling him different.
- Cairns Taipans are not "shutting up shop" yet.
- Adelaide 36er David Cooper notched up game 250 over the weekend.
- Yahoo's BDL has a great one-on-one interview with trash talking Gary Payton. Find out what "The Glove" is up to these days.
- See who is the best clutch player in the NBA. Value for dollar that is.
- My #5 Zags continue to roll. This time Indiana had a crack and came up short, 70-54.
Zags Jeremy Pargo bringing the thunder against Indiana.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
For the second time in less than twelve months, Melbourne Tiger Sam MacKinnon is battling a potentially life threatening condition in which multiple blood clots were discovered in his lungs.
When I heard the news of MacKinnon’s health I couldn’t help but stop what I was doing and take a minute to reflect on life.
I thought about how playing basketball, something MacKinnon has done professionally since the age of 17, could no longer be part of this dual Olympian’s daily thoughts and routines. The possibility that something he has dictated his life to for so long could be gone and that possibility has got to be devastating for him.
Just last Wednesday, I spoke to him about his health and he was very positive and up-beat about how his recovery had progressed. Everything appeared to be looking up for him after battling one thing after another for years.
Mental note to self: As cliché as it may sound, you may truly never know when your last game has been played.
The second set of thoughts that ran through my mind were along the “what’s next?”. This incident is yet another example of the fact that athletes need to have a Plan B in place for life after sport.
When we are young and invincible, it is difficult to grasp the concept. We are happy to falsely suppose that basketball will carry us on through life,…at least the first 10 or so years of it.
Mackinnon is age 32 and only two short years ago was named as the NBL’s MVP. In February of this year MacKinnon was inked in for his third Olympics until the first round of clots appeared. Hard not to assume that his guy didn’t have quite a few solid years ahead of him when he is performing at such an amazing level. I highly doubt that anyone would have picked this big, tough athlete out of a line of people to be inflicted with this type of health scare.
Thankfully, whatever the outcome for Sam, he and his family had begun to put the wheels in place to secure a life after basketball and, with any luck, this will carry them through if the worst case scenario becomes a reality for them.
As for me, I have 16 games left in the regular season and, if it’s okay by everyone else, I think I will cherish each one of them on their own individual merit.
And when the offseason roles around, I think I will take care of those last few university classes I need to graduate. I have always knew I would get them done ‘someday’. I think that someday is now.
You can find my article in the Townsville Bulletin every Wednesday.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
A huge thanks to our guest this week. Rob Beveridge spoke from the heart and you will understand when you listen to this episode of "The OT".
Jeremy Pargo has my #9 Zags looking like Final Four contenders early in the season. Thanks Mr Pargo for staying in school.
About six weeks to a month ago fellow blogger Roger Taylor approached me about shooting some videos to help younger players improve their shooting. I agreed to help out a fellow hoops junkie with the fine art of shooting.
It starts with very basic stuff like hand placement and footwork for a shot. A complete technique makeover shall we say. As we move along we start to cover things such as using the correct footwork when coming off a screen.
I'm sure kids can grab something worthwhile from it.
Taylor has the videos up and ready for viewing in his members only section. Like any good salesman he gives you a sneak peak at what you can look forward to viewing in the members section.
Good luck with improving your shooting.
- Sydney Spirit's power forward Matt Knight picks up the club's first NBL Player of the Week award. "The OT" will be more than happy to present Knight with a cd, as we felt he was ripped off last week.
- Kirk Penney is gaining support from around the NBL that he should be in the NBA. Are some of these coaches looking at their own teams fortunes or do they really believe he should be there?
- Spirit players to decide if NBL rescue package is to their liking.
- Tigers centre Chris Anstey is ready to hear it from the Adelaide faithful.
- Geelong Supercats are getting ready for the 2009 Big V season.
- Kirk Penney is banged up! I might have to give that thumb a whack or two on Thursday night.
- Coach Geordie McLeod may coach in New Zealand again.
- #9 Gonzaga coasts to win the Old Spice Classic.
Monday, December 1, 2008
I'm Lovin' It!
- Well, it seems my jockstrap article was a hit with more than just the ladies. Here are a few sites that gave it a run.
Some bloke in Wollongong loved it!
It gets a run on a site called BulgeReport. I entered this site with one eye open. The name had me worried, but all is good, I think.
- While I'm tooting my own horn, get this into you courtesy of the Townsville Bulletin.
"That's the JR that we all know and once he gets his eye in he can hit them one-handed floating out of bounds," an ecstatic Townsville coach Trevor Gleeson said.
- Here is the actual game report from the Crocs/Taipans game.
- Are the Spirit still deadmen walking?
- Is former league MVP Sam MacKinnon's career over?
- Gold Coast coach Brendan Joyce wants expansion.
- Andrew Vlahov to move on from Perth. Will he be running the new league?
- Oscar Forman's hard work beginning to pay off.
- Brad Newley continues on his winning ways in Greece.
- Matt Nielsen fouls out rather quickly.
Charles Barkley on LeBron James and his free agency in 2010 - I agree with Sir Charles!