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2000-2020 NBL All-Star Five: Melbourne Tigers
We have compiled the best team of those who have played for the Melbourne Tigers in the last 20 years.
The last 20 years have been a rollercoaster ride for Australian basketball, and more specifically, the NBL.
Early in the 2000s, the league was riding high due to the boom period that was the 1990s. However, things went downhill before Larry Kestelman and co. created a foundation, that has resulted in the resurgence we are experiencing at the moment.
Through all the ups and downs, the level of basketball and quality of players have been undeniably strong. As a celebration, I’m compiling an All-Star five for every team that has played at least five seasons in the NBL between 2000 and 2020.
That means both the Melbourne Tigers and Melbourne United will be featured, however, South East Melbourne Phoenix will not appear.
Players will be selected based on their performances with the team, not over their entire career. Success, accomplishments, stats, impact, and longevity will all be taken into account when it comes to who makes their respective team.
In the last edition of this series we took a look at the Brisbane Bullets, this time around we’re featuring the Melbourne Tigers.
PS. This is just the Melbourne Tigers, we’ll do a separate team for United.
PG: Andrew Gaze
The NBL’s GOAT was well into his 30s by the time 2000 rolled around, but that didn’t stop him from performing brilliantly until his retirement in 2005. Gaze averaged over 20 points per game in our selected era and despite not winning an MVP after 1998, he still took home the league’s scoring title at the end of the 1999/00 and 2000/01 seasons.
Although Gaze’s best years were behind him, his continued brilliance in the early noughties helped set the foundation for the hugely successful Chris Anstey-era, where the Tigers won two championships. Strong numbers over a decent period of time mean that even without his legend status, Gaze gets picked in this team.
(The only time Gaze, Copeland, and Bradtke all scored 30 points in the same game 👇)
SG: Lanard Copeland
There is obviously the nostalgic want for the Gaze-Copeland partnership to feature in this team, but that aside, Lanard Copeland has a rightful place in this 2000-2020 Melbourne Tigers five. The guard had a number of strong seasons in the noughties for the Tigers before finishing his career with a stint at Brisbane and then Adelaide.
‘Copes’ was named to the All-NBL First Team in 2002 and was an All-Star in 2004. His 2001-02 season was the clear standout, averaging 25.3 points per game in a year in which his teammate, Mark Bradtke, won the league MVP. An elite scorer and a Tigers legend, Copeland takes the two-guard spot in our 2000-2020 Melbourne team.
SF: Dave Thomas
He may not have been the main man during his time with the Melbourne Tigers, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to see Canadian swingman Dave Thomas in this 2000-2020 team Melbourne team. The unfortunate fate of the Canberra Cannons was a disappointment for the league, but it did result in the Tigers signing Thomas, who would go on to be a long-term piece for the Victorian side.
In five and a half seasons with the Tigers, Thomas averaged 14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and over a steal per game. He was named in the All-NBL Second Team in 2006 and a year later went one better, making the All-NBL First Team. Thomas was part of both of Melbourne’s championships in the noughties, providing key stability alongside Chris Anstey.
Thomas was a do-it-all guy for the Tigers, able to defend multiple positions and go down the other end and score the ball in a number of ways. A fan-favourite and definitely deserving of a place in this team.
PF: Chris Anstey
Chris Anstey was the first picked in this team, just ahead of his big man partner Mark Bradtke. His stats and accolades through this period rank with the very best of anyone in the league. He won the NBL MVP in 2006 and 2008 for the Tigers, winning the Finals MVP and Championship in the same year. He was also named Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.
The Victorian was a staple of the All-NBL First Team through the noughties, being named four times while playing for the Tigers. Anstey will be remembered as one of the league’s greats and it was his time with Melbourne that truly established that position. His size, length, touch around the rim, and of course, his ability to stretch the floor, made him close to unguardable in his prime.
C: Mark Bradtke
Most people associate the Melbourne Tigers big three of Gaze, Copeland, and Bradtke, with the golden era of the 90s, however, they forget just how good the man in the middle was in the noughties. ‘Hoges’ took home the 2002 NBL MVP after a monster season, but he was also a staple of All-NBL First Team in the early 2000s, and averaged over 17 points, 12 rebounds, and a block per game for Melbourne in the time period we’re looking at.
Although the Tigers failed to claim a championship in the early 2000s, there was no doubting they still had serious talent, with Bradtke remaining one of the key pieces. He would eventually finish his NBL career with a Brisbane Bullets’ grand final series victory, however, his time with Melbourne will be what he is most well-remembered for.
Just missed the cut…
A true Australian basketball stalwart, David Barlow doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He didn’t spend long with the Tigers but was still part of their 2008 championship-winning team and was named to the 2009 All-NBL Third Team. Unfortunately, longevity for the club is what has edged Barlow out of this side, but there is no doubting he was, and remains to be, a championship player.
There are only a handful of players that everyone thinks of when the conversation of best NBL point guards comes up, and ‘D-Mac’ is one of them. He played five seasons with the Tigers to end his career and can count himself stiff to miss out on this team. Although it was the twilight of his career, the star point guard won two championships with Melbourne and also took home the 2004 NBL Best Sixth Man award.
The epitome of hard-nosed basketball, Mark Worthington had two stints for the Tigers, playing two seasons for the team before it turned into Melbourne United. ‘Wortho’ was named to the 2010 All-NBL First Team in what was his first go-around as a Tiger and in his second he played alongside Chris Goulding, averaging 14 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Longevity for the team is what got in the way of Worthington making the team.
Chris Goulding is comfortably one of the great NBL players of the current era and his brief time with Melbourne before they turned into United was impressive. In 2012 he won the NBL All-Star Game MVP and in 2014 he was named to the All-NBL First Team. That same year he won the NBL scoring title and who could forget his epic 50-point game!? Limited time in a Tigers’ jersey meant he doesn’t get a place in this 2000-2020 team, but Chris Goulding made a serious mark as a Tiger.