You know you’re an Aussie hoops tragic if you’re still excited about the recent NBL x NBA announcement made this week. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, three NBL teams will venture to the United States in October to do battle with NBA teams during the early part of our NBL season.
The games will be included as part of the NBA pre-season schedule, and the three Australian clubs involved will be the Sydney Kings, Melbourne United and the recently returned Brisbane Bullets. They’ll face off against the Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder and Joe Ingles and his Utah Jazz.
Now while this is a very exciting breakthrough for the NBL, the majority of the excitement has only come from the eastern side of the country, with people in the west particularly frustrated – to say the least – that their beloved Perth Wildcats – winners of three of the past four NBL championships – will not be involved.
Here’s a quick glimpse of the backlash from Cats fans on social media directly after the news was made public on Tuesday.
As you can see, the Red Army was ready to declare war on the NBL, angry they’d been overlooked despite their glorious 30-year playoffs record.
But then in a surprising twist, news soon broke that the Wildcats actually had not been overlooked. In fact, they were indeed approached about it, but the Cats were the ones who chose not to be involved. Wildcats management then released a statement confirming this to be correct, citing that due to the timing and unknown financial implications, it was “not in their best interests”
Not in their best interests? Really?!
Do they truly believe the experience their players will gain from competing against the likes of Russell Westbrook and some of the best players in the world is somehow not in their best interests?
That seems very odd.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Wildcats, but here are three quick reasons why I think they made a poor decision here.
Opportunities For Development
Wildcats players – particularly the team’s Aussie contingent – miss out on an amazing amazing opportunity to experience competing at the highest possible level, which has potential to improve both their skills and their general basketball IQ.
I’m thinking especially of younger players like Angus Brandt and Dexter Kernich-Drew. The potential insight and knowledge these guys might gain simply by playing in an environment like that is huge. People tend to rise to the level of their competition, and excellent competition has a way of bringing out the best in people.
It gives you a benchmark to aspire to, and I think the entire Wildcats team would come back from an experience like this with increased confidence, new ideas and improved play, which would actually help them – not hinder them – when they return.
Disruption To NBL Season.
The travel and disruption to their schedule wouldn’t be as dramatic as they obviously think it will. And even if it is, this happens in October at the beginning of the NBL season. Would it be the end of the world if they returned from the USA and dropped a few early games?
Or have they forgotten how badly they stunk out the joint in the first half of last season? It was really only the January addition of Bryce Cotton that sparked a late-season run and caused them to win the whole thing. And yes, I said January.
So they’ve proved that early season dominance isn’t critical to winning a title, so there’s no reason why a disruption in October would ruin their three-peat attempt come March.
A Chance To Promote The Perth Wildcats Internationally
30 years of playoffs are great, but who knows about the Perth Wildcats internationally? This would have been a terrific platform to make new contacts and show off their professionalism as a club, which could increase their chances of landing top quality imports in the future.
Let’s see if the Bullets, Kings and United don’t end up with some pretty talented Americans on their roster in the next few years as a result of this trip.
Overall I think the Wildcats have passed on an incredible opportunity and have got their priorities in the wrong order.
The NBA is the holy grail of Basketball, and a chance to play in it – even in a pre-season game – should come before anything else.