Larry Kestelman took another significant step towards controlling basketball in Australia today following the announcement of the NBL as commercial rights partner for Basketball Australia.
Having already rescued the NBL and taken on the management of Basketball Australia's 3x3 program, the Kestelmen's NBL will now also take on responsibility for marketing, promotion and licensing of the rights and assets controlled by Basketball Australia. This includes includes all national teams, the WNBL, Centre of Excellence, the Aussie Hoops junior development program, Australian Junior Championships, and a host of 'other assets' that has not yet been specified.
“Australian basketball has never been stronger with record participation, elite national teams, a resurgent Hungry Jack’s NBL and Chemist Warehouse WNBL, and a record number of Australians playing in the NBA and WNBA," outlined new Basketball Australia Chief Executive Jerril Rechter in the offical release.
“Importantly, the sport is now united, and this partnership will enable Basketball Australia and the NBL to capitalise on the opportunities to take the game to the next level.
“Basketball Australia is the custodian for the sport in Australia as the Governing Body and enjoys a strong reputation and ambition to be the sport of choice for families into the 21st century.
“This partnership will be a win-win for Australian basketball and our partners but also the players, clubs and the fans who will benefit from a stronger and more united sport."
The Boomers, Opals and WNBL brands could be considered household names. With Australian basketball riding a wave of global popularity due to a record number of players in the NBA, a Boomers near medal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Opals continuing their excellence at international level with World Cup silver in 2018, basketball and growing junior participation rates, the sport has never been in a better position to capitalise on commercial opportunities.
Despite all the success, Basketball Australia has floundered in finding a way to capitalise on commercial opportunities. This is extended to the WNBL, who despite returning to television screens last season, continues tio struggle in sustaining a financially viable league, with two teams almost disappearing this year alone.
Where Basketball Australia has remained inept, the NBL is well positioned to help the sport in Australia succeed commercially.
“This is a landmark agreement in Australian sport, and the model is reflective of what has been a tremendously successful partnership between our American counterparts – the NBA and USAB," outlined NBL Chief Executive Jeremy Loeliger in the same statement.
“The cornerstone of this relationship is that each party is striving to ensure that the other is given the very best chance to succeed. Now each of us can focus our efforts and resources on those functions that are best suited to our organisations.
“The NBL is now empowered to commercialise basketball in Australia on a ‘whole of sport’ basis, removing any uncertainty as to how corporate Australia can engage with our sport at all levels.
“Together we will seek to capitalise on what will long be regarded as a golden era of Australian basketball.
"We will provide bigger and better opportunities to those long standing supporters of both BA and NBL, but also welcome new brands wanting to be a part of the phenomenal growth of this great sport in Australia and around the globe.”
An all-of-sport approach in Australia is much needed, and with Larry Kestelman's investment in the sport through the NBL and more recently 3x3, there is no doubting that he has provided a much-needed shot in the arm for the sport down under. The need to harness the commercial opportunities the sport presents has never been greater, which in turn would allow for reinvestment into the sport for long-term sustainable growth. Unlike Basketball Australia, the NBL has the resources and commercial nouse to make it happen.
The Pick and Roll has been seeking comment from Basketball Australia's CEO without success for over a month as to the future direction of the sport and the governing body. While the latest announcement answers some queries, it also poses just as many questions.
How does this landmark agreement relate to the greater Basketball Australia strategic direction, and will the WNBL be the next asset to be sold to the NBL? Does the long-term success of basketball in Australia now revolve around just one man?
We eagerly await an opportunity to finally speak with Rechter, and the opportunity to learn and share more with the Australian basketball community in the future of the sport down under.