National Basketball League (Australia)

The National Basketball League (NBL) is a men's professional basketball league in Oceania; currently composed of 9 teams, 8 in Australia and 1 in New Zealand. It is the premier professional men's basketball league in Australia and New Zealand.[1]

National Basketball League
Founded1979 (1979)
First season1979
Country Australia
(8 teams)
Other club(s) from New Zealand
(1 team)
ConfederationFIBA Oceania (Oceania)
Number of teams9
Level on pyramid1
Current championsPerth Wildcats
(2018–19, 9th title)
Most championshipsPerth Wildcats
(9 titles)
CommissionerJeremy Loeliger
PresidentLarry Kestelman
TV partnersAustralia: New Zealand: Online:
2019–20 NBL season


In August 1979, the inaugural season of the NBL commenced, playing in the winter season (April–September) which it did so until the completion of the 1998 season, the league's twentieth season. The 1998–99 season, which began only months later, was the first to be played during the summer season (October–April). The shift, which is currently used by the league, was an attempt to avoid competing directly against Australia's various winter season football codes.

The NBL experienced its "golden age" in the late 1980s and early 1990s,[2] but its popularity, media attention, attendance and corporate support deteriorated and plateaued in the decade afterward.

A second Melbourne club, the South Dragons, entered the league in the 2006–07 season, but was short lived, soon folding 3 years later after the 2008–09 season in which they were premiers. In the 2006–07 season, the NBL became the first Australasian sporting league to field a team from Asia with the Singapore Slingers playing. The Gold Coast Blaze also joined the competition in the 2007–08 season. In 2007, Australian NBA player Andrew Bogut suggested the NBL try to adopt a model similar to the Australian Football League (AFL) whereby there are the same 10 or 15 teams over a 10-year period.[3]

A turbulent period during 2008 and 2009 saw the league lose teams from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Singapore.

The 2009–10 season earmarked as the season in which the NBL would begin its revamping, much like the old National Soccer League which became the eight team A-League.[4] The NBL returned to free-to-air television in Australia for the first time in three years with One broadcasting 2–3 games a week.

The 2010–11 season saw the return of the Sydney Kings after the club was purchased for A$20,000 on 31 July 2008.[5]

In 2013, the NBL had a de-merger from Basketball Australia.[6][7]

Crowds improved for the 2013–14 NBL season, recording the highest cumulative crowd attendance figures for the past five years.[8]

After numerous teams folding and a plummeting public profile property developer Larry Kestelman purchased a 51% portion of the league. Since then game attendance, TV viewership, website visitors and app downloads have been consistently on the increase.[9]

In April 2016 the Townsville Crocodiles folded as they had become too financially unsustainable to continue.[10]

Larry Kestelman has stated on the Aussie Hoopla podcast that no NBL club will ever fold again as long as he is in control of the league.

Allowing for clubs to recruit the best Australian players not in the NBA became easier with the marquee rule which saw the return from Europe and the US of players such as Brad Newley, David Andersen and Andrew Bogut. In addition the Asian/Oceania born player rule, introduced for the 2016–17 season, allows for clubs to recruit players born in countries such as India, Guam and Japan who would not count as imports under NBL rules.[11]

The growth of Basketball in Asia over recent years and the overall strength and standard of Australian Basketball should ensure the sustainability of the league for many years provided Asian players continue to strive to compete in the NBL and Asian basketball fans are able to follow the league. Current trends should see the NBL as the third highest attended basketball league in the world, after the NBA and EuroLeague.[12]

From 2016 to 2018 there was a renewed interest in the sport, with it being described as being the National Basketball League's greatest ever period. 2016/17 set a new attendance record for the league, with the figure being matched the following year, as well as the Grand Final series for the 2017/18 season.[13][14][15]

In 2018 the South East Melbourne Phoenix were announced as the latest club to join the league, and started competing in the 2019–20 season; a season which was widely regarded as a major season for the league. After an active off-season, including the signings of LaMelo Ball and R. J. Hampton, two highly rated NBA 2020 draft picks, the league started by continuing to topple attendance records from the first round.[16] The season's opening night had 10,300 fans in attendance to watch Melbourne United and the South East Melbourne Phoenix compete in the first "Throwdown", with a further 20,550 fans attending games across the first round.[17] After signing a broadcasting deal with Facebook Watch, over one million American fans watched Ball's first game in the NBL against the Brisbane Bullets.[18]

Competition format

Regular season

Since the 2009–10 NBL season, each team has played 28 games during the regular season, 14 home and 14 away. The regular season starts in early October and ends in late March.


The top four teams at the end of the regular season advances to the Finals. The team finishing in the first and second position at the completion of the regular season receives home advantages in their best-of-three first round matchup against the team finishing in fourth and third position. The winner of each of the three matches advances to the Grand Final. The winner of Series 1 plays the winner of Series 2 in the best-of-five Grand Final series, with home advantage being awarded to the highest remaining seed. The winner of this series is crowned as NBL champion.[19]

Current clubs

The National Basketball League (NBL) was founded in 1979 with nine teams.[1] Due to club expansions, reductions and relocations, many of the teams either changed or ceased to exist. There are currently nine teams; eight teams in Australia and one team in New Zealand. The teams are located in Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Wollongong. The Illawarra Hawks are the oldest club in the competition, having participated in every season since 1979.

The salary cap for each team is $AU1.1 million as a 'soft cap' with marquee players able to be paid amounts that will exceed that amount for the team.

Club Icon City State Arena Capacity Founded Head Coach NBL
Adelaide 36ers
Adelaide South Australia Adelaide Entertainment Centre 11,300 1982 Joey Wright 4 2002 (2002)
Brisbane Bullets
Brisbane Queensland Nissan Arena 5,000 1979 Andrej Lemanis 3 2007 (2007)
Cairns Taipans
Cairns Queensland Cairns Convention Centre 5,300 1999 Mike Kelly 0 N/A
Illawarra Hawks
Wollongong New South Wales WIN Entertainment Centre 6,000 1979 Matt Flinn 1 2001 (2001)
Melbourne United
Melbourne Victoria Melbourne Arena 10,500 1984 Dean Vickerman 5 2018 (2018)
New Zealand Breakers
Auckland New Zealand Spark Arena 9,300 2003 Dan Shamir 4 2015 (2015)
Eventfinda Stadium 4,179
Perth Wildcats
Perth Western Australia RAC Arena 15,500 1982 Trevor Gleeson 9 2019 (2019)
South East Melbourne Phoenix
Melbourne Victoria Melbourne Arena 10,500 2019 Simon Mitchell 0 N/A
State Basketball Centre 3,200
Sydney Kings
Sydney New South Wales Qudos Bank Arena 18,200 1988 Will Weaver 3 2005 (2005)

Future expansion

In December 2018, the Southern Huskies, based in Tasmania, joined the New Zealand National Basketball League while awaiting a licence to join the Australian league.[20] In December 2018, its affiliate program known as the Hobart Huskies was entered into the semi-professional basketball league NBL1.[21]

After weeks of reports of a return of a Tasmanian team, in June 2019 Larry Kestelman flagged Tasmania as a potential 10th team. However he stressed that if a Tasmanian team did enter the NBL they would be eased in, and that there was no timeline.[22]

Former clubs

Club Icon City State Years in
the NBL
Bankstown Bruins / West Sydney Westars
Bankstown New South Wales 1979–1987 Became the West Sydney Westars for the seasons, 1986–1987. Merged with the Sydney Supersonics to form the Sydney Kings in 1988.
Canberra Cannons
Canberra Australian Capital Territory 1979–2003 Celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 1998 as one of only four foundation clubs left in the league. The club only lasted a few more years.
City of Sydney Astronauts / Sydney Supersonics
Sydney New South Wales 1979–1987 Became the Sydney Supersonics in 1982. Merged with the West Sydney Westars to form the Sydney Kings in 1988.
Coburg Giants / North Melbourne Giants
North Melbourne Victoria 1980–1998 Became the North Melbourne Giants for the seasons, 1987–1998.

Merged with the South East Melbourne Magic to form the Victoria Titans for the seasons, 1998–2002.

Devonport Warriors
Devonport Tasmania 1983–1984
Frankston Bears
Frankston Victoria 1983–1984
Geelong Cats / Geelong Supercats
Geelong Victoria 1982–1996 Became the Geelong Supercats for the seasons, 1988–1996.
Glenelg Tigers
Glenelg South Australia 1979 Finished last in the inaugural season and never competed in the NBL again.
Gold Coast Blaze
Gold Coast Queensland 2007–2012
Gold Coast Cougars / Gold Coast Rollers
Gold Coast Queensland 1990–1996 Became the Gold Coast Rollers in 1991.
Hobart Devils / Hobart Tassie Devils
Hobart Tasmania 1983–1996 Became the Hobart Tassie Devils for the seasons, 1988–1995. But changed back to the "Hobart Devils" for the 1996 season.
Hunter Pirates
Newcastle New South Wales 2004–2006 Acquired the licence from the Canberra Cannons and competed for several seasons before folding.
Launceston Casino City Tigers
Launceston Tasmania 1980–1982 Joined the NBL in 1980. Won a championship in 1981. Finished 5-21 in 1982 and left the NBL.
Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle New South Wales 1979–1999 One of the foundation clubs in the NBL that celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 1998. Unfortunately the club only lasted one more year in the league afterwards.
Nunawading Spectres / Eastside Melbourne Spectres
Nunawading Victoria 1979–1991 Became the Eastside Melbourne Spectres in 1987. Merged with the Southern Melbourne Saints to form the South East Melbourne Magic in 1992.
Singapore Slingers
Singapore Singapore 2006–2008 Acquired the licence from the Hunter Pirates, becoming the first Asian team to enter the NBL.

They chose to withdraw form the competition due to international flight costs to Australia and New Zealand.

South Dragons
Melbourne Victoria 2006–2009 Took up the vacant licence after the demise of Victoria Giants. South Dragons were champions in 2008/2009 but elected to not enter a team in season 2009/10, citing dissatisfaction with the management of the league. It was not allowed to compete in the league afterwards.
South East Melbourne Magic
Melbourne Victoria 1992–1998 Formed from a merger between the Eastside Melbourne Spectres and the Southern Melbourne Saints. Merged with North Melbourne Giants to form the Victoria Titans for the seasons, 1998–2002.
St Kilda Saints / Westside Melbourne Saints /
Southern Melbourne Saints
Melbourne Victoria 1979–1991 Became the Westside Melbourne Saints in 1987. Became the Southern Melbourne Saints in 1991. Merged with the Eastside Melbourne Spectres to form the South East Melbourne Magic in 1992.
Townsville Suns / Townsville Crocodiles[23]
Townsville Queensland 1993–2016
Victoria Titans / Victoria Giants
Melbourne Victoria 1998–2004 Formed from a merger between the South East Melbourne Magic and the North Melbourne Giants. Became the Victoria Giants for the seasons, 2002–2004 after the Titans went into financial administration.
West Adelaide Bearcats
Adelaide South Australia 1979–1984 Left the NBL following the 1984 season and merged with the Adelaide 36ers.
West Sydney Razorbacks / Sydney Spirit
Western Sydney New South Wales 1998–2008 Became the Sydney Spirit in 2007/08.
West Torrens Eagles / Forestville Eagles
Wayville South Australia 1980–1981 Became the Forestville Eagles in 1981. Left the NBL in 1982 and formed the basis of the Adelaide City Eagles.[24]


Adelaide 36ers vs Brisbane Bullets

Arguably the NBL's oldest rivalry started in 1985 when the Brian Kearle coached Bullets defeated the Ken Cole coached 36ers 121–95 in the 1985 NBL Grand Final, the last single game Grand Final in NBL history. From 1985–1987, the Bullets and 36ers were the two dominant teams in the league and the two clubs met in the 1986 NBL Grand Final, the first NBL GF to be played over a 3-game series. An Australian indoor sports attendance record of around 11,000 saw the first game of the 1986 series played at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre with Adelaide, who had a 24–2 record for the season, winning 122–119 in overtime. Brisbane then handed Adelaide its only home loss of 1986 (the 36ers had gone 13–0 at the Apollo Stadium) when they won Game 2 104–83 before Adelaide won its first NBL title with a 113–91 win at Apollo in Game 3. The teams were evenly matched at the time with players such as Al Green, Mark Davis, Bill Jones, Peter Ali, Darryl Pearce, Mike McKay and Dwayne Nelson (Adelaide) against Brisbane's star import Leroy Loggins, captain Larry Sengstock, guard Ron Radliff, forwards Danny Morseu, Robert Sibley and Chris McGraw, centre John Dorge and (in 1985 and 1986) Cal Bruton. Loggins was the NBL MVP in 1986 and 1987 (and player of the match in the 1985 GF) while Mark Davis was the Grand Final MVP in 1986 and shared the league MVP award with Loggins in 1987.

The Rivalry between the two clubs again reached fever pitch in the mid-1990s when Bullets guard Shane Heal earned the ire of the Adelaide crowd during Game 3 of the 1994 Elimination final series when he gave the crowd at the Clipsal Powerhouse a 'double bird'. Heal, who had scored 61 points in the last regular season game before scoring 42 points in Game 1 to lead Brisbane to a 116–105 home win over the 36ers, had not actually managed to score a point before half time in Game 2 which the 36ers had won 99–91 before also winning Game 3 101–84. Heal, along with former 36er Mark Bradtke who had left under acrimonious circumstances at the end of 1992 to join the Melbourne Tigers, became public enemy #1 to the 36ers crowd following the incident.

With the Bullets returning to the NBL in 2016, the rivalry has continued with Adelaide defeating the Bullets in their first encounter at home, the Bullets returning the favour with an away win in Adelaide, while a week later Adelaide spoiled the Bullets regular season return to the Entertainment Centre for the first time since 1997 with a resounding 101–83 win.[25]

Adelaide 36ers vs Melbourne United

Apart from the normal South Australian and Victorian rivalry, the 36ers vs United (formerly Tigers) rivalry started at the end of the 1992 season when 36ers centre Mark Bradtke joined Spanish club Juver Murcia following the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain for a short stint. Before he left he signed an agreement with the 36ers stating that he would finish his one-year contract with the club should he return within a certain time. Upon his return to Australia, Bradtke stated his intention not to return to the 36ers with the Tigers rumoured to be actively chasing him. After protracted negotiations with 36ers management that led to the club being prepared to buy out his remaining contract, the NBL stepped in and vetoed the buy out, effectively letting Bradtke leave for Melbourne without the 36ers receiving any compensation for the remainder of his contract with the club. When Bradtke returned to Adelaide with the Tigers on 4 July 1993 he was soundly booed whenever he touched the ball by the 8,000 strong crowd at the Clipsal Powerhouse. The booing of Bradtke and the Andrew Gaze led Tigers continued for a number of seasons.

A new rivalry has emerged with Julius Hodge, a former 36er, returning to the NBL in November 2009, signing with the Melbourne Tigers. Hodge was a star in Adelaide when he joined the 36ers mid-season the previous two years, however issues relating to alleged missed payments caused him to walk out on the club in early January 2009 on bad terms.[26]

Hodge returned to his old home court for the first time on 5 December 2009 in a Tigers overtime victory. After being heckled and taunted all night in a quiet game by his standards, Hodge caused more controversy when he stamped and spat on the Brett Maher signature on the centre of the Brett Maher Court following his new club's win. He was booed off aggressively and loudly by the Adelaide fans and needed security to escort him out of the stadium.[27]

Adelaide 36ers vs Perth Wildcats

Both teams were perennial championship contenders in the late 1980s and early 90s and had several marquee players with excellent match-ups, the three most notable all involving American imports: Al Green (Adelaide) vs Cal Bruton (Perth), Mark Davis (Adelaide) vs James Crawford (Perth) and Bill Jones (Adelaide) vs Tiny Pinder (Perth). Games during this era were rarely blowouts and helped to fuel the rivalry. Adelaide won the 1986 NBL Championship over the Brisbane Bullets and Bruton, who moved from Brisbane to be player-coach of Perth in 1987, built a team specifically to beat the reigning champions. Despite the long time rivalry between the two clubs, and the two teams having played numerous semi-final series against each other with the first being in that 1987 season, they did not face each other in a grand final series until the 2013–14 season, which was won by the Perth Wildcats. the Wildcats have won each semi-finals series played between the two (1987, 1989 and 1995).

The 1995 series proved to be one of the most volatile and controversial due to an incident between 36ers forward Chris Blakemore and Perth's Martin Cattalini in Game 1 in Adelaide. Under instructions from coach Mike Dunlap to basically belt the next Perth player to go through the key, Blakemore back handed Cattalini, giving the Wildcats forward a large cut on his mouth that required 15 stitches. Blakemore was suspended for Game 2 in Perth as the Wildcats swept the 36ers 2–0 before going on to defeat the defending champion North Melbourne Giants (who had swept Adelaide in 1994) 2–1 in the Grand Final. In an ironic twist, Cattalini would join the 36ers in 1996 and later went on to win two championships with the club (plus another with Perth), while Blakemore, the NBL's Rookie of the year in 1993 and its Most Improved Player award winner in 1994, as well as playing for the Australian Boomers in 1995, joined the Canberra Cannons in 1996 and his career went downhill from there with his NBL career ending at the end of 1997 after just two seasons with the Cannons.[28]

As the mainstay players began to slow with age and retire, the intensity of this rivalry has declined. The two clubs remain the most successful in the NBL with four championships for Adelaide and nine for Perth and are first and second on the all-time wins list (709 wins for Perth, 670 wins for Adelaide as of November 15, 2019) and have also matched up on more occasions (134 times total; Perth leading all time between the two 73 – 61) than any other two teams in the NBL (as of November 15, 2019). The rivalry continues into the 2012–13 season with the 36ers beating the Wildcats in back to back games in rounds 6 and 7, including the opening game at Perth's new home, the Perth Arena, in front of a then record Wildcats crowd of 11,562.

The Wildcats and 36ers dominated the 2013–14 NBL season, finishing first and second respectively during the regular round. After the three previous semi-final meetings, they then faced off in their first ever Grand Final series which saw the Wildcats emerge with their record 6th NBL championship with a 2–1 series win. This was one of the most anticipated series in NBL history, not only given the two clubs' long-standing rivalry, but also due to the post-game on court 'brawl' which took place following their Round 18 clash in Perth earlier in the season.

Adelaide and Perth play for the Cattalini Cup named for Perth born Martin Cattalini who won two championships with each club. In each game, the game MVP is awarded with the Paul Rogers Medal named for Adelaide born centre Paul Rogers who made his NBL debut for the 36ers in 1992 and later joined Perth, winning 2 championships and the NBL MVP award in 2000 while with the Wildcats.

Cairns Taipans vs Townsville Crocodiles

A local derby-style rivalry nicknamed "Reptile Rumble" has developed to determine which is the dominant North Queensland team. The Cairns-Townsville basketball rivalry would have to be one of the longest and most passionate in the NBL. Both teams generally attract a close to capacity crowd anywhere from 4000+ at their home games. Each team and their supporters and mascots generally boo and taunt their visiting rivals. The rivalry has been in existent for over 10 years and almost came to a near end when the Cairns Taipans were on the verge of extinction due to financial issues.

The rivalry between the two North Queensland based clubs is currently extinct due to the Crocodiles folding at the end of the 2015–16 NBL season.

Illawarra Hawks vs Sydney Kings

Hawks fans consider the Sydney Kings to be their most fierce rival. Many Hawks players have moved to the Kings including two former Rookie of the Year winners and a two-time Olympian. In the absence of the Kings, the Sydney Spirit took the role of rival, but this felt fake to some Hawks faithful. The Hawks took bragging rights after the 2000–01 season when they became the first team from New South Wales to qualify for the NBL finals, which they won against Townsville. Sydney then took the ascendency when they won three championships in a row, including a clean sweep of the Hawks.

New Zealand Breakers vs Perth Wildcats

The Breakers and Wildcats have arguably been the league's current strongest teams, and have been fairly evenly matched. Between them, they have won every year's league from 2009–10 to 2016–17, and met in the final in 2011–12 and 2012–13 (both won by the Breakers) and 2015–16 (won by the Wildcats). Both teams have similarities in that they have to travel great distances to play any other NBL team. These two factors have combined to make a "derby of distance" between the NBL's farthest-flung members. The rivalry may have its origins in a scrap between players from each side after a game in 2004.[29] Games between the two sides have been intense ones for several years and often marked with incident.[30]



At the start of the 2004–05 season, the league struck a new television deal with Fox Sports in Australia and a multi-year naming-rights sponsorship deal with electronics manufacturer Philips. Though in 2007, Philips announced they would not continuing their naming rights sponsorship in response to the NBL wishing to increase the sponsorship deal.[31] On 18 September 2007, the NBL announced Hummer as their naming rights sponsor for the 2007–08 season.[32]

On 13 September 2010, iiNet was announced as the league naming rights sponsor and Centrebet as the official sports betting partner.[33][34] Spalding provided equipment including the official game ball, with AND1 supplying team apparel.[35][36] The iiNet sponsorship lasted for 3 seasons, and the Centrebet sponsorship lasted for two seasons.

On 5 October 2017, Hungry Jack's became the naming rights sponsor for the National Basketball League.[37] The Hungry Jack's logo will feature on player jerseys, in and around venues and the company will be closely associated with Heritage Month in January.[38]

Naming rights


National television broadcasting rights are as follows: While the ABC had exclusive national broadcasting rights from 1979–1987, other television stations around the country (usually those affiliated with either the Seven Network or Network Ten) would broadcast their local teams to their state markets once the sport gained popularity. For example, in the mid-1980s the Adelaide 36ers and Brisbane Bullets home games were shown in Adelaide and Brisbane by Network Ten stations SAS and TV0 respectively.

In 2015, Fox Sports secured a 5-year deal for the Australian broadcasting rights of all games, starting with the 2015–16 season.[49] In addition, for the 2015–16 season Nine Network secured one weekly match (every Sunday afternoon) for FTA.[50] In 2016, SBS secured the exclusive free-to-air rights for the 2016–17 season, broadcasting and streaming online one Sunday match live each week.[51][52] In the 2017–18 Season, SBS broadcast 2 games live, one on Saturday and another on Sunday, while ABC broadcast a Friday night game on delay at 11pm.

Year Australia New Zealand
Free TV Pay TV Free TV Pay TV
1979 ABC
1988 Seven Network
1992 Network Ten
1995 Fox Sports
1998 ABC
2007 Nine Network Māori Television
2010 Network Ten/
2011 Sky Sport
2015 Fox Sports
2016 Nine Network
2017 SBS
2018 SBS/ABC
2019 Nine Network/9Go!

Squad formation and salary cap

Most teams have historically featured at least one and usually two American imports. Currently, teams are limited to having three imports (i.e., non-Australasians) on the roster at any one time; league initiatives in recent years have added two roster slots that may be filled by imports without counting against the three-import limit. Some of these players have moved to Australia permanently and become Australian citizens; a few including Cal Bruton, Mark Davis, Leroy Loggins and Ricky Grace have even played for the Australian national team (under a FIBA rule that allows one naturalised player to compete for a national team).

The NBL's salary cap for the 2006–07 season was A$776,000, and increased to A$810,000 for the 2007–08 season; the cap rose for two consecutive years due to the continued growth of the league. The salary cap rose A$1,000,000 for the 2009–10 season. The cap remains at A$1,000,000 for the 2012–13 season.[53]

For the 2016–17 season, the salary cap was changed from a A$1,000,000 ‘hard cap’ to a A$1,100,000 ‘soft cap’. Teams may exceed the soft cap provided that they pay a salary equalisation subsidy based on the extent to which they have exceeded the cap. In addition, player values for purposes of the salary cap are not based on the salary submitted to the league, but are determined by a special NBL panel. The cap regulations also mandate that teams distribute their salaries so that at least one group of five players has a collective cap value of no more than A$400,000. Both cap numbers (the soft cap and the 5-player aggregate cap) have increased since then, based on average league salaries.[54]

On 9 May 2014, to help attract high-calibre imports or offer financial incentive for local stars considering overseas opportunities, the NBL introduced a marquee player rule, in which a team can nominate one player whose salary is paid outside the cap, with a 25% Marquee Player levy applied to any payment made above the salary cap.[55][56] For the 2016–17 season, the value was modified so that if the marquee player is a "non-restricted" player (explained below), only the first $150,000 of that player's salary will be counted toward that team's salary cap.[54]

NBL legend Andrew Gaze has pointed to these changes being instrumental to the improvement of NBL and its Australian players.[57]

Also effective in 2016–17, the number of import roster slots was increased from two to three, and each team was allowed (but not required) to have one player from a FIBA Asia or FIBA Oceania country other than Australia or New Zealand on its roster who would not be counted against the import limit. Since then, the NBL has used the term "non-restricted" to describe all players signed as locals, including Asian/Oceanian players signed under the regional initiative.[54] With this change, many of the best Asian-born players were expected to seek NBL contracts, as teams can now recruit them and play them as locals.[58]

Most recently, the NBL announced the "Next Stars" initiative on 2 March 2018, effective with the league's 2018–19 season. The scheme is designed to provide young elite overseas players, mainly Americans (who are currently barred from the NBA draft until one year out of secondary school), as well as Australians and New Zealanders considering U.S. college basketball, with a professional option immediately out of secondary school. Each team will receive one additional import roster slot intended to provide a "Next Star" slot. Players who will be part of the scheme will be selected by a special NBL panel and, should they accept the league's offer, be contracted directly by the NBL and placed into an allocation pool to be distributed among the league's teams. The chosen players will receive a salary of A$100,000, as well as a car, apartment, and flights home during league breaks. The scheme will be funded for the first season by the NBL, meaning that "Next Star" players will not count against the salary cap. Finally, under current rules, the NBA allows its teams to spend up to US$700,000 to buy players out of professional contracts in non-North American leagues; should a "Next Star" be bought out by an NBA team (or by a team in another overseas league), the buyout amount will be split between the team and the NBL.[59][60] The first player signed to a Next Star contract was American Brian Bowen, signed on 7 August 2018 and assigned to the Sydney Kings.[61]


Since the 2018–19 season, First Ever has supplied the uniforms for all teams in the league, including round specific uniforms (such as the Wildcats' Pink round and Taipans' Blackout round).[62]

City Round

With the introduction of First Ever as uniform supplier in 2018, the NBL announced the "City" round. During this annual round, all teams wear limited edition jerseys which are specific to the city of their team.[63]

Indigenous Round

In December 2018 the Illawarra Hawks and Sydney Kings wore Indigenous based jerseys to celebrate "the rich Indigenous culture within basketball as a whole."[64]

After this successful launch, the league announced the in the 2019–20 season all teams would be competing in an Indigenous round.[65]


List of champions

TeamTitlesWinning SeasonsNotes
Perth Wildcats91990, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019
Melbourne United51993, 1997, 2006, 2008, 2018Four championships won as the Tigers. Rebranded as Melbourne United in 2014.
Adelaide 36ers41986, 1998, 1999, 2002Won the first multi-game Grand Final series in 1986.
New Zealand Breakers42011, 2012, 2013, 2015First New Zealand-based team and champions in the NBL, won 4 titles in 5 seasons.
Canberra Cannons 31983, 1984, 1988Became the Hunter Pirates in 2003.
Sydney Kings32003, 2004, 2005Formed in 1988 after Sydney Supersonics and West Sydney Westars merged.
First NBL team to win 3 championships in a row.
Brisbane Bullets31985, 1987, 2007Won the last single-game Grand Final in 1985.
St. Kilda Saints 21979, 1980Known as the Westside Melbourne Saints from 1987–1990 and the Southern Melbourne Saints in 1991.
North Melbourne Giants 21989, 1994Known as the Coburg Giants from 1980–1986.
Merged to form the Victoria Titans in 1998.
South East Melbourne Magic 21992, 1996Formed in 1992 after the Southern Melbourne Saints and the Nunawading Spectres merged.
Merged to form the Victoria Titans in 1998.
Launceston Casino City Tigers 11981Team folded in 1983.
West Adelaide Bearcats 11982Team left the NBL in 1984.
Illawarra Hawks12001Known as the Wollongong Hawks from 1998–2015.
South Dragons 12009Team left the NBL in 2009.
indicates club is not a current member of the NBL.

Hall of Fame

The National Basketball League Hall of Fame was instituted in 1998 to mark the 20th season of the NBL. The Hall recognises outstanding service to the league as players, officials and other contributors.[66] In 2009, the NBL Hall of Fame was combined with the Basketball Australia Hall of fame to form the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame as a whole-of-sport/industry Hall of fame. When the NBL Hall of fame was operating, to be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame, candidates must have fulfilled the following criteria:

  • Players must have made an outstanding contribution to the NBL, have been retired for a minimum of four seasons, and have played 100 NBL games or more.
  • Coaches must have made an outstanding contribution to the NBL, have been retired for at least four seasons, and have been an NBL head coach for 10 seasons or more.
  • Referees must have made an outstanding contribution to the league and have been retired for at least four seasons.
  • Contributors must have made an outstanding contribution to the NBL, and may be elected at any time.

Admissions to the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame (ABHF) must now meetthe criteria established for ABHF.

When Basketball Australia took over the NBL in 2010, the NBL Hall of Fame merged with the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame.[66]

Inductees are listed in alphabetical order.[67]

Name Award Inducted
Barry Barnes Coach 1998
Ray Borner Player 2006
Cal Bruton Player 1998
Steve Carfino Player 2004
Wayne Carroll Player 1999
Ken Cole Coach 2012
Eddie Crouch Referee 2007
Ian Davies Player 2001
Mark Davis Player 2006
Scott Fisher Player 2007
Al Green Player 1999
Michael Johnson Player 2004
Damian Keogh Player 2000
Brian Kerle Coach 2006
Leroy Loggins Player 2006
Herb McEachin Player 1998
Danny Morseu Player 2002
Bill Palmer Contributor 1998
Darryl Pearce Player 2002
John Raschke Contributor 1998
Larry Sengstock Player 2001
Phil Smyth Player 2000
Malcolm Speed Contributor 2000
Bob Turner Coach 2000
Andrew Vlahov Player 2007


Road trips

Doomsday Double
The Doomsday Double, involving a road trip to play the Adelaide 36ers and Perth Wildcats during the same round, has occurred 141 times as at the end of the 2010–11 season. Only four teams have won both legs of the trip, played either on consecutive nights or on a Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Due to the long time success rate of both the 36ers and Wildcats, the Double has long been considered the toughest two games in one weekend road trip in the NBL. The Doomsday Double was given its name by Hall of Famer Cal Bruton during its early days when the trip was a game in Perth on the Friday night followed by Adelaide the following night or vice versa.

Sunshine Swing
Similar to the Doomsday Double, the Sunshine Swing pits teams against an away double or even triple game schedule against opponents from the state of Queensland, in the same round. The most frequent combinations have featured the Brisbane Bullets/Gold Coast Rollers or Cairns Taipans/Townsville Crocodiles double. Other variants include Brisbane Bullets/Cairns Taipans (current version), Brisbane Bullets/Townsville Crocodiles and the gruelling Brisbane Bullets/Cairns Taipans/Townsville Crocodiles triple.


NBLxNBA is an annual series involving clubs from the NBL and the National Basketball Association (NBA) of the United States of America. The series started in 2017 for each league's 2017–18 season, and each season includes between three and seven games. The games have previously always been held in America and Canada, and typically are held during September and early October.

All-Star game

The All-Star game is an event that was first contested in 1982 by East and West teams. It was revived in 1988 when North and South teams competed. This match was played annually until 1997. In 2003–04 season the concept was revived with an East-West match being held in Melbourne. The following season saw a change of format, with a local team (Aussie All-Stars) playing an imports team (World All-Star). This was discontinued after the 2007–08 season. The concept was revived in 2012 with an All-Star game between North and South that was scheduled for December 2012.[68]

See also


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