Author Archive

Australian basketball and why it may be one of our most popular sports but why we don’t want to watch Australian’s play it.

By Michael Salisbury

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics basketball ranks a close number 3 in most popular sports behind tennis, cricket, AFL and football (soccer as we call it here in Australia) but why in the world is no one watching it? Why is it not the sporting juggernaut that the AFL is? Why aren’t people in the streets wearing a Melbourne Tigers jersey as opposed to a jersey of a city 100’000 miles away?

An argument can be made that perhaps it is Australia’s fierce patriotism that makes it so hard for us to truly ‘fall in love’ with Basketball, the AFL and NRL dominate the headlines where even when home made stars who play in the NBA like Patty Mills a former Melbourne Tiger who now plays for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs scored a career high 31 points against the Golden State Warriors leading his team to a victory only got a mention on ONE of the local news sports reports that night, (note: Channel 10 news, the mention lasted all of 15 seconds)

photo courtesy of

Basketball in Australia has had a very strange and inconsistent journey. The NBL was born in 1978, the national competition was born out of the need to improve and develop our Olympic teams. Starting with 6 teams (Canberra, St. Kilda, Newcastle, West Adelaide, Wollongong and Brisbane) over the years many teams have come and gone. Financial solvency being the major issue as almost every team failed to draw crowds. Teams from all over the country (and in some cases other countries with both New Zealand and Singapore both fielding teams in our national competition at one time or another with the New Zealand Breakers winning the NBL championship in the 2011/12 season)

Victoria bearing the brunt of poor attendance and apathy towards the NBL have fielded a total of 10 teams (St. Kilda Saints, South East Melbourne Magic, Nunawading Spectres/Eastside Spectres, North Melbourne/Coburg Giants, Geelong Supercats, South Dragons, Victoria Titans / Giants who were a merger between the North Melbourne and South East Melbourne teams) all but one survives the Melbourne Tigers.

Come the 2012/13 season the greater Melbourne area has seen 9 teams fall as the higher brass of the NBL are offering the chance for a Melbourne bidder to take the dreaded ‘2nd’ spot in Melbourne’s already dead Basketball market.

A Melbourne consortium making a bid for one of the new NBL teams seem ready to make the same mistakes previous owners have. Planning on using the 10’000 seat  Hisense Arena high rent and poor attendance spelt doom for the last franchise that called it home, the South Dragons. The Victoria Titans and Melbourne Tigers also used to call it home but moved out (and in the Titan’s case folded) thanks to its high rental prices. The Tigers now call the State Netball Centre (with a capacity of only 3’500) home and in an ironic twist the Melbourne Vixin’s of the ANZ Championship the pre-eminent netball league in the world now play their games at Hisense.

The new stadium in Melbourne South East suburbs does more to prove this strange popularity of a game enjoyed worldwide. Not only with the professional NBA in the United States but leagues in Spain and Greece are hugely popular.

Basketball is destined to be a sport only popular in the offseason, when footballers need to stay in shape.


Ward, R, Push to introduce a second NBL team to rival the Tigers, June 17 2011,…

Ward, R, Knox in NBL bid, December 21st 2011,…

NBL History,