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National Basketball League
Current season or competition:
2009–10 NBL season
NBL Logo 2009-2010.png
Logo NBL
Sport Basketball
Founded 1979
Commissioner Larry Sengstock
Claim to fame The strongest men's professional basketball league in the Southern Hemisphere
No. of teams 8
Country(ies)  Australia
 New Zealand
Continent FIBA Oceania (Oceania)
Most recent champion(s) South Dragons (defunct)
TV partner(s) Fox Sports (Australia)
Maori TV (New Zealand)
Official website

The National Basketball League is Australasia's top-level professional basketball competition.

There are currently 8 teams in the league, with teams in Adelaide, Cairns, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, North Shore (New Zealand), Perth, Townsville and Wollongong. This comes after a turbulent period, when the league lost teams from Australia's three largest cities, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. A second Melbourne club, the South Dragons, entered the league in season 2006/07, but pulled out after season 2008/09 in which they were premiers. The National Basketball League has also become the first Australasian sporting league to field a team from Asia with the Singapore Slingers playing in the 2006/07, through to the 2007/08 season. The Gold Coast Blaze joined the competition this 2007/08 season.

Most teams have historically featured at least one and usually two American imports; teams are limited to having two non-Australasians on the roster at any one time. Some of these players have moved to Australia permanently and become Australian citizens; a few have even played for the Australian national team (under a rule that allowed one naturalized player to compete for a national team). One former American NBL player, Arne Duncan (of the Eastside Spectres, 1987-'91), went on to be named United States Secretary of Education by Barack Obama. Duncan met his future wife in Tasmania whilst playing for the Spectres.

The league's best years were arguably in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it has struggled recently and many teams have downsized to smaller venues to cut costs. A number of clubs have folded or ceased to compete in the competition. The previous major sponsor of the NBL was Mitsubishi Motors. Mitsubishi, which left its sponsorship when the ABC ceased televising NBL basketball games left the National Basketball League close to folding.



The league commenced in 1979, playing a winter season (April–September) and did so until the completion of the 20th season in 1998. The 1998/99 season, which commenced only months later, was the first season after the shift to the current summer season format (October–April). This shift was an attempt to avoid competing directly against Australia's various football codes.

The league's best years were arguably in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it has struggled recently and many teams have downsized to smaller venues to cut costs. A number of clubs have folded or ceased to compete in the competition. The previous major sponsor of the NBL was Mitsubishi Motors. Mitsubishi, which left its sponsorship when the ABC ceased televising NBL basketball games left the National Basketball League close to folding.

Despite these issues, at the start of the 2004/05 season the league struck a new television deal with Fox Sports in Australia and a multi-year naming-rights sponsorship deal with electronics manufacturer Philips. In 2007, Philips announced they would not continuing their naming rights sponsorship after the current contract ends in June in response to the National Basketball League wishing to increase the sponsorship deal.[1] On September 18, 2007, the National Basketball League announced Hummer as their naming rights sponsor for the 2007/08 season.[2]

Current Teams

Club Founded Years Active City Home Venue Capacity
Adelaide 36ers 1982 1982- Adelaide, South Australia Distinctive Homes Dome 7,800
Cairns Taipans 1999 1999- Cairns, Queensland Cairns Convention Centre 5,300
Gold Coast Blaze 2007 2007- Gold Coast, Queensland Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre 5,269
Melbourne Tigers 1984 1984- Melbourne, Victoria State Netball and Hockey Centre 3,500
New Zealand Breakers 2003 2003- Auckland, New Zealand North Shore Events Centre 4,500
Perth Wildcats 1982 1982- Perth, Western Australia Challenge Stadium 4,500
Townsville Crocodiles 1993 1993- Townsville, Queensland Townsville Entertainment Centre 5,257
Wollongong Hawks 1979 1979- Wollongong, New South Wales WIN Entertainment Centre 6,000

Former and defunct teams

Selection. See List of defunct National Basketball League (Australia) teams for a more in depth list


Salary cap

The NBL's salary cap for the 2006-07 season was AU$776,000, and increased to $810,000 for the 2007-08 season; the cap rose for two consecutive years due to the continued growth of the league.[3] The salary cap for the 2009-10 season is $1,000,000.[4]

Broadcasting Details

The 2009/10 NBL season will see 51 games shown live on Fox Sports [1]. This includes all playoff games, and all New Zealand Breakers home games via satellite from Māori Television in New Zealand. Each team will have at least 7 games shown.

In addition to television coverage, some teams, including the Adelaide 36ers, Perth Wildcats [2], Gold Coast Blaze and Townsville Crocodiles are, beginning in the 2009/10 season, offering Live Streaming of all home games online for a $5 pay per view fee. The Perth Wildcats games are streamed through media partner for free [3]

Some clubs also have live broadcasts on local radio stations, most of which are available to listen to online.[4]

Hall of Fame

The National Basketball League celebrated 20 seasons of competition in 1998. As part of the celebrations, the NBL initiated the Hall of Fame to recognise the outstanding players, coaches, referees and contributors to the league.

In order to be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame, candidates must have fulfilled the following criteria:

  • Players must have made an outstanding contribution to the NBL, have been retired for a minimum of four seasons, and have played 100 NBL games or more.
  • Coaches must have made an outstanding contribution to the NBL, have been retired for at least four seasons, and have been an NBL head coach for 10 seasons or more.
  • Referees must have made an outstanding contribution to the league and have been retired for at least four seasons.
  • Contributors must have made an outstanding contribution to the NBL, and may be elected at any time.

Inductees are listed in alphabetical order.

Name Award Inducted
Barry Barnes Coach 1998
Ray Borner Player 2006
Cal Bruton Player 1998
Steve Carfino Player 2004
Wayne Carroll Player 1999
Eddie Crouch Referee 2007
Ian Davies Player 2001
Mark Davis Player 2006
Scott Fisher Player 2007
Al Green Player 1999
Michael Johnson Player 2004
Damian Keogh Player 2000
Brian Kerle Coach 2006
Leroy Loggins Player 2006
Herb McEachin Player 1998
Danny Morseu Player 2002
Bill Palmer Contributor 1998
Darryl Pearce Player 2002
John Raschke Contributor 1998
Larry Sengstock Player 2001
Phil Smyth Player 2000
Malcolm Speed Contributor 2000
Bob Turner Coach 2000
Andrew Vlahov Player 2007

List of Champions

Team W Season Notes
Perth Wildcats 4 1990, 1991, 1995, 2000
Adelaide 36ers 4 1986, 1998, 1999, 2002
Melbourne Tigers 4 1993, 1997, 2006, 2008
Canberra Cannons 3 1983, 1984, 1988 Became Hunter Pirates in 2003
Sydney Kings 3 2003, 2004, 2005 Licence was revoked June 2008
Brisbane Bullets 3 1985, 1987, 2007 Team withdrew June 2008
St Kilda Saints 2 1979, 1980 Became Westside Saints in 1987
North Melbourne Giants 2 1989, 1994 Merged to form Victoria Titans in 1998
South East Melbourne Magic 2 1992, 1996 Merged to form Victoria Titans in 1998
Launceston Casino City 1 1981 Team folded in 1983
West Adelaide Bearcats 1 1982 Left NBL in 1984, now in ABA
Wollongong Hawks 1 2001
South Dragons 1 2009 Team quit the NBL after 2009 season

Teams in bold are current members of the NBL.

NBL Finals

Season Champion Result Runners-Up Notes
1979 St Kilda Saints 94 – 93 Canberra Cannons Single game final used
1980 St Kilda Saints 113 – 88 West Adelaide Bearcats
1981 Launceston Casino City 75 – 54 Nunawading Spectres
1982 West Adelaide Bearcats 80 – 74 Geelong Cats
1983 Canberra Cannons 75 – 73 West Adelaide Bearcats
1984 Canberra Cannons 84 – 82 Brisbane Bullets
1985 Brisbane Bullets 121 – 95 Adelaide 36ers
1986 Adelaide 36ers 2 - 1 Brisbane Bullets Best of three games finals series first used.
1987 Brisbane Bullets 2 - 0 Perth Wildcats
1988 Canberra Cannons 2 - 1 North Melbourne Giants
1989 North Melbourne Giants 2 - 1 Canberra Cannons
1990 Perth Wildcats 2 - 1 Brisbane Bullets
1991 Perth Wildcats 2 - 1 Eastside Melbourne Spectres
1992 South East Melbourne Magic 2 - 1 Melbourne Tigers
1993 Melbourne Tigers 2 - 1 Perth Wildcats
1994 North Melbourne Giants 2 - 0 Adelaide 36ers
1995 Perth Wildcats 2 - 1 North Melbourne Giants
1996 South East Melbourne Magic 2 - 1 Melbourne Tigers
1997 Melbourne Tigers 2 - 1 South East Melbourne Magic
1998 Adelaide 36ers 2 - 0 South East Melbourne Magic
1998-99 Adelaide 36ers 2 - 1 Victoria Titans
1999-00 Perth Wildcats 2 - 0 Victoria Titans
2000-01 Wollongong Hawks 2 - 1 Townsville Crocodiles
2001-02 Adelaide 36ers 2 - 1 West Sydney Razorbacks
2002-03 Sydney Kings 2 - 0 Perth Wildcats
2003-04 Sydney Kings 3 - 2 West Sydney Razorbacks Best of five games finals series first used.
2004-05 Sydney Kings 3 - 0 Wollongong Hawks
2005-06 Melbourne Tigers 3 - 0 Sydney Kings
2006-07 Brisbane Bullets 3 - 1 Melbourne Tigers
2007-08 Melbourne Tigers 3 - 2 Sydney Kings Marked last game of the Sydney Kings before licence was revoked.
2008-09 South Dragons 3 - 2 Melbourne Tigers Marked last game of the NBL before the competition was revamped.

Game 5 was the last game for South Dragons before they quit the league.


Adelaide 36ers vs Perth Wildcats

Both teams were perennial championship contenders in the late 80's and early 90's and had several marquee players with excellent matchups, the two most notable involving the imports: Al Green (Adelaide) vs Cal Bruton (Perth), Mark Davis (Adelaide) vs James Crawford (Perth). Games during this era were rarely blowouts and helped to fuel the rivalry. Ironically, the two teams have never played each other in the final series. As the mainstay players began to slow with age and retire, the intensity of this rivalry has declined. The two clubs remain the most successful in the NBL with 4 championships each and are 1st & 2nd on the all-time wins list, and have also matched up on more occasions (76, including 20 in the playoffs) than any other two teams in the NBL (as at November 9, 2005).

Cairns Taipans vs Townsville Crocodiles

A local derby style rivalry has developed to determine which is the dominant North Queensland team.

Adelaide 36ers vs. Melbourne Tigers

Apart from the normal Victorian & South Australian rivalry, a new rivalry has emerged with Julius Hodge, a former 36er, returning to the NBL in November 2009, signing with the Melbourne Tigers. Hodge was a star in Adelaide when he joined the 36ers mid-season the previous 2 years, however issues relating to alleged missed payments caused him to walk out on the club in early January 2009 on bad terms.[5]

Hodge returned to his old home court for the first time on the 5th of December, 2009 in a Tigers overtime victory. After being heckled and taunted all night in a quiet game by his standards, Hodge caused more controversy when he stamped on the Brett Maher signature on the centre of the Brett Maher Court following his new club's win.[6]

The NBL in the future

The NBL experienced its golden age in the early to mid-1990s[5], but its popularity, media attention, attendance and corporate support deteriorated and plateaued in the decade afterward. Australian NBA player Andrew Bogut suggested the NBL try to adopt a model similar to the Australian Football League (AFL) whereby there are the same 10 or 15 teams over a 10 year period[7]. Disgruntled Australian basketball enthusiasts have suggested expansion to 16 teams, most importantly locating a team in the city of Darwin [8] making the Singapore road-trip less drawn-out, also Darwin currently does not have the support for a national domestic team of any sort. Since the inception of the Singapore Slingers in 2006, both Asia and Oceania are represented in the National Basketball League, however Asian players are not considered local players unless they are from Singapore and play for the Slingers. Unfortunately the Slingers are no longer part of the NBL.

There has been significant support for the NBL to expand into Asia by many NBL players as well as ex-Australian Boomers head coach Brian Goorjian [9] [10], be it differently to how it was done with the now defunct Singapore Slingers which had a 14 hour round-trip flight to the Australian East Coast [11]. The 2009/10 season is earmarked as the season in which the NBL will begin its revamping, much like the old National Soccer League which became the eight team A-League (later expanding to 10 teams). [12]. The preferred method is to have three more teams in The Asia/Pacific region with locations such as Hong Kong, Manila, Taipei, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and even United States territory Guam being earmarked as possible locations for clubs as well as re-instating the Singapore Slingers licence; although this expansion is not likely to happen for up to five more years. However it is possible the Perth Wildcats and/or a new Darwin franchise may make up the numbers in an Australasian division also [13]. Each of these clubs would then play just one home and one away game against each club not in its region or division and play up to three games against those clubs in its own region or division. A new Brisbane club is expected to replace the old Brisbane Bullets, thereby placing this team in a division of its own with the other three Queensland clubs, the Gold Coast Blaze, Townsville Crocodiles and Cairns Taipans. The Sydney Kings name was purchased for the sum of AU$20,000 on 31 July 2008 adding hope to the club also making a return to the league [14]. Other possible locations for clubs include Hobart, Wellington and even an Australian Institute of Sport team based in Canberra comprising the best Australian players under the age of 22. Canberra has not had an NBL side since the Canberra Cannons which folded in 2003, the success of the AIS team in the Australian Women's National Basketball League underlies the likelihood of such a venture working [15].

With the eventual expansion into Asia is it expected that Australia's significant Asian population would follow the game as well as creating revenue from pay-TV rights throughout Asia. With Basketball booming in Asia with the success in the NBA of Yao Ming as well as Yi Jianlian and Hamed Haddadi, Australia's role as hosting the best league in the region and one of the best in the world is obviously appealing[16]. The new NBL would ideally open the import restrictions to include Asian passport holders as well as Oceania and possibly Southern Hemisphere born players to play as locals creating a wider player base and a better standard of basketball. Strong regional basketball nations such as New Zealand, the Philippines, China, Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Uruguay would ideally all have representatives in the new league, which was recently merged with Basketball Australia[17].

Award winners

Statistical leaders

  • Points per game
  • Rebounds per game
  • Assists per game
  • Steals per game
  • Blocks per game
  • Field goal %
  • Free throw %

All-Star game

The All-Star game is an annual event in the NBL. It was once contested between the East and West but was now contested by the locals (Aussie All-Stars) and imports (World All-Star).

All-Star Games by Season

Year Result (Arena), City MVP
1988 North 127, South 122 (The Glass House), Melbourne, VIC Leroy Loggins, Brisbane Bullets
1989 North 141, South 143 (The Glass House), Melbourne, VIC Andrew Gaze, Melbourne Tigers
1990 North 139, World 119 (Perth Entertainment Centre), Perth, WA Derek Rucker, Brisbane Bullets
1991 North 168, South 154 (The Glass House), Melbourne, VIC Mark Davis, Adelaide 36ers
1992 Australia 149, USA Stars 132 (AIS Arena), Canberra, ACT Andrew Gaze, Melbourne Tigers
1993 NBL Stars 124, Australia 119 (Rod Laver Arena), Melbourne, VIC Terry Dozier, Newcastle Falcons
1994 NBL Stars 101, Australia 133 (Sydney Entertainment Centre), Sydney, NSW Tony Ronaldson, South East Melbourne Magic
1995 South Stars 138, North Stars 140 (Clipsal Powerhouse), Adelaide, SA Robert Rose (basketball), Adelaide 36ers
1996 South Stars 132, North Stars 146 (Melbourne Park), Melbourne, VIC Darryl McDonald, North Melbourne Giants
1997 North Stars 151, South Stars 142 (Sydney Entertainment Centre), Sydney, NSW Derek Rucker, Brisbane Bullets
2003/04 West 126, East 129 (State Netball and Hockey Centre), Melbourne, VIC Ebi Ere, Sydney Kings
2004/05 Aussies 156, World 140 (Townsville Entertainment Centre), Townsville, QLD Brad Newley, Townsville Crocodiles
2005/06 Aussies 151, World 116 (Sydney Entertainment Centre), Sydney, NSW Darryl McDonald, Melbourne Tigers
2006/07 Aussies 133, World 136 (Distinctive Homes Dome), Adelaide, SA Rashad Tucker, Melbourne Tigers
2007/08 Aussies 146, World 141 (State Netball and Hockey Centre), Melbourne, VIC Nathan Jawai, Cairns Taipans

See also


External links


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