Melbourne Tigers make controversial call to rebrand as United

The new look Melbourne United logo

The Melbourne Tigers announced on Tuesday morning that they will be changing the team name, logo and colours for the 2014/15 NBL season in a decision that instantly divided the Victorian basketball community.

The new team, to be called Melbourne United, will begin the next NBL season wearing Victoria’s traditional navy blue and white and will aim to attract fans from all over Victoria to basketball once more.

While the Tigers have worked hard in recent years to establish these ties with the wider community it has been difficult given the connection the club holds with the Melbourne Tigers junior club, which has created a barrier in wooing fans from other associations around the state who were not already fans of the NBL club.

However, the move has seemingly alienated die-hard Tigers fans given the decision to leave behind the club’s rich history.

Legends Andrew Gaze and Lanard Copeland have been particularly vocal about how devastating the change will be, with Copeland claiming he does not want anything to do with the new team.

The reactions to the change from the public have also been strong, with many Tigers fans already taking to social media to distance themselves from the team.

The United name aims to bring together all Victorian basketball fans and essentially merge the heritage of the Tigers, South Dragons, South East Melbourne Magic, North Melbourne Giants and Victoria Titans in a bid to increase support.

Coach Chris Anstey threw his support behind the new brand as the announcement was made, echoing owner Larry Kelstelman’s claim that those who have not immersed themselves in the Tigers culture, or who formerly supported one of the other Victorian-based teams in the 1990’s, will finally get the chance to whole-heartedly support basketball once again.

The news also seemingly spells the end to the push for a second Victorian side in the NBL in the near future as Melbourne United tries to establish themselves as a team that will be ‘uniting’ the state's basketball community.

Lindsay Gaze, who along with son Andrew has been the faces of the Tigers for almost all of its NBL existence, claimed that Melbourne was big enough for four teams rather than simply changing the name of one, and that the NBL should now begin working towards achieving this goal.

The logic and intentions behind the change are seemingly to involve the entire basketball community of Victoria and bring the game back to the people, and purely based on these alone the rebranding of Melbourne should be a resounding success.

However time will tell whether the fans of teams from yesteryear, which now includes the Melbourne Tigers, will indeed become ‘united’ and throw their support behind the new franchise.