“No team that’s currently in our league will ever disappear.”
Larry Kestelman said on the Aussie Hoopla podcast this week, something the Australian basketball public from any Australian basketball figurehead.
For a league that has had 24 clubs become defunct in 37 years, it’s a long-awaited sign of league stability that the NBL has been missing for over a decade.
Basketball faithful have remained stoic despite 19 different fanbases losing the team they support over the past 20 years.
It’s hard to be excited by anything basketball management says after 20 years of insecurity. However, what Kestelman has done so far in his short tenure is starting to convince even the most pessimistic hoops tragics that the NBL is a growing entity once again.
The change has come predominantly from altering salary cap rules and a much improved streaming service. Kestelman has been able to rekindle the hearts of many basketball fans, so much so that some NBL tragics seem to be already dreading his departure.
The NBL.tv app has been a huge success with over 80,000 downloads in the league’s first three rounds. Kestelman focused on making the game accessible to any fan of aussie hoops, made a bold move by allowing anyone to watch every game of their favourite team via the NBL app, a unique move for a professional league.
This move was soon after followed by the NBL partnering with multiple streaming services in India, China and many other Asia-Pacific countries. The results being that no matter where you are in the world, you can see the best basketball talent Australia has to offer.
There has already been an increase in sponsorship, advertisement and crowd numbers since Kestelman has taken the reigns and all signs point to continuous improvement. Most people would be happy with the results so far, but he is not content and delivered a huge challenge to the fans of Australian basketball.
“If every fan actually just put in a little bit of effort to spread the word, share messages, share the vision and form their own little group. I think it’s on the fans themselves to actually help us as well. Your voices are very, very important.” said Kestelman
“If every one of them (Australian basketball fans) talked to another five people on their team and got them to do something, download the app, come to a game and even as simple as just to cost them nothing to download the app and follow their team. That’s the sort of tribal things we want to encourage.”
It’s at this point in the interview when Larry makes it very clear that for basketball to get any bigger it’s in the hand’s of the basketball fan now.
“We’re doing our part; I really think fans if you love basketball I encourage you to do the same” Kestelman said.
It’s an impressive challenge put forward to a country which is the highest subscriber to the NBA’s league pass and sees more people playing basketball than any of other sport to support basketball at a national level.
It’s a booming endorsement that the management has faith in the league and needs our help, the ones who truly love basketball, in making the NBL one of the premier sports in the country.
Making a choice to go to more NBL games, buy more merchandise, talk about last night’s game with your friends or invite people over to watch a live game is a decision to see basketball succeed in this country.
Nothing is going to change unless the masses change first so here is your chance to make a difference in changing the Australian sporting culture.
On behalf of Australian basketball fans, I thank you Larry Kestelman, and everyone working towards your vision to get this sport to not only to where it was in the 1990s, but much further, and into a new golden age that will see basketball embedded as part of this countries culture for the next generation.