Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jake the Snake will have plenty of time for reading in the very near future.

For the past 18 months, the powers that be within Australian basketball have spent a lot of time and money looking for ways to reinvent and reintroduce a product to the sporting public that will attempt to compete with the upper echelon of sports in Australia.

Late last week these same people released an explanatory memorandum outlining expectations and guidelines for the new National Basketball League which is expected to kick off in October of this year.

Obviously this is not the forum for a point by point analysis. However I can assure you that I have read every word in the official document and I have a few concerns about what lies ahead for our sport.

My primary concern would have to be that we simply have not made enough changes to our current product to justify calling labeling the future league ‘new and improved’.

For instance, the ‘new’ season will start in October and run for 18 weeks which is pretty much what we do now, give or take a week or two each side.

There will be a minimum of eight teams in the ‘new’ competition, each having to demonstrate financial viability as to avoid the mid-season collapses experienced this year by the Cairns Taipans and Sydney Spirit.

Although guaranteed pay is music to a player’s ears, how many of our current franchises will honestly be able to demonstrate the qualifying amount of $1.5 million set out under the guidelines? Will there even be eight teams able to take the first step in the application process financially?

We currently have a ten team competition with the above mentioned Taipans and Spirit under voluntary administration. They are gone. That would seem to leave a very tidy eight teams to make up that minimum figure for next year’s comp.

Not so fast,…rumour has it that the Wollongong Hawks will be shutting up shop at the end of this season. The new bar has been set too high for the Steel City’s ownership group to remain in a national competition and it would appear that our only remaining original NBL member close that chapter of history.

That leaves seven teams. Anyone wanting to fork out the money to make up that eighth spot will, according to the new rules, be made to pay an extra $1 million for a license. (Current teams will have this fee waived.)

Considering the current world economic trends, good luck finding new owners.

The salary cap will be increased to $1.2 million (from about $840K). This sounds great on paper, but I’ve been around long enough to realize that most teams would be spending right around this already. It is just a matter of creative accounting.

Personally, I was amazed to read that both the salary cap and points system will remain in place. I have never been and never will be a believer in the point system. In my opinion, the only thing a point system does is leave some medium to top range players without jobs simply because of an arbitrary number. A properly enforced salary cap should do the job of this point system while keeping the best players employed.

The one thing that I think is fantastic news is that it appears that Fox Sports will show every game every week. If this, in fact, does happen, it will be fantastic exposure for our sport. This type of exposure often leads to increased corporate sponsorship and let’s just hope we see that money trickle down over the course of the next few years.

It is difficult to see something you have invested your working lifetime into struggle. I want nothing more than for the ship to turn around and for Australian Basketball to be reliving its glory days in another five or more years. Will this ‘new league’ be the start of something big? Stay tuned.

You can find my article in Wednesday's edition of the Townsville Bulletin.

For more on this topic, check out the latest edition of "The OT" as we interview Basketball Australia board member Andrew Gaze.


Dodge Taylor said...

JR, after your post a few months back about NBA jerseys, thought you might find this interesting:

Anonymous said...

I hope the Crocs r not in the "newNBL" next year. Would love to see another team instead.

Krint said...

Hey DT,Talking about jerseys ,some of you may have seen this site already,it shows random people wearing basketball,football,hockey jerseys.

Funny comments,it makes you wonder why people are wearing some of them!
Not spotted a JR Zags jersey yet!!

Dodge Taylor said...

Hey Krint,

Funny site! I laughed at the Anthony Goldwire jersey ... I remember he was definitely in between Mahmoud and Melo on the timeline. I also liked the Courtney Alexander and Jud Buechler ones ... obscure!

Not sure how the Penny singlets are classed as obscure, he dominated for a season or two.

Dodge Taylor