It’s a risk to start up a Brisbane team in the NBL, but one that’s worth taking.
It will please long time basketball fans to learn that discussions are far advanced at the highest level about a return of a Brisbane team to the NBL. More than that, the recent registration of the name “Brisbane Bullets Pty Ltd” suggests an announcement is close. Those involved include businessman Paul Bendat and Larry Sengstock, one of the game’s favourite sons. A powerful combination.
Larry is a four-time Olympian with experience in sports administration while Paul’s family is one of Australia’s wealthiest and has a long-standing love of (and involvement in) the game. Again: a formidable mix.
A national league without representation from Australia’s third largest city is neither viable nor truly national. Running a sports franchise, however, is a risky and expensive proposition, particularly given the increasing competition for corporate sponsors and no guarantee of wider exposure either on free-to-air TV or cable. A Brisbane team would be an attractive and important element in seeking wider exposure and the revenue that would flow from this.
It’s a Catch-22 situation. Getting a team up and going is a gamble but, if you don’t take it, the NBL has a very limited future indeed. Soccer and netball have established footholds that see them poised for steady (and perhaps dramatic) growth. That makes it a crowded landscape.
There are plenty of juniors playing the game at a high standard so it would be sad to see the game treading water (or worse) when the nursery is rich with potential.
The glory days of the Brisbane Bullets in the 80s are fondly remembered, while their re-birth under Eddie Groves not only created a new generation of followers but saw the return of those who had experienced the journey from Auchenflower to Chandler and then on to the Entertainment and Convention Centres.
They were the days when Larry was joined by a band of brothers including the wonderful Leroy Loggins, Ronnie “the Rat” Radliff, Danny Morseau and the magnificent Cal Bruton. And stalking the sideline with program in hand was Coach Brian Kerle, a three-time Olympian and passionate ambassador for the sport he loved so well. Behind the scenes respected businesspeople (and basketball devotees) like Don Coates created a viable and workable model.
The result was an energy that invigorated Brisbane. It can be a mistake to seek to repeat such times. Occasionally the moment and the people are just right and a unique chemistry is created.
Equally, however, it can be a mistake not to try.
From one effort to another
Trying is something Troy Szczurkowski knows a lot about. Troy wrote recently to let me know that, as you read this, he’ll be in Alaska attempting one of the world’s most gruelling events—the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska. So, while we enjoy the first, welcoming days of autumn, this Daisy Hill resident will be competing in one of the world’s great Ultra Events. The Alaska Range and freezing conditions will be a far cry from his training regimen which sees him peddle all around south-east Queensland, up the Glasshouse Mountains and down to northern NSW. You’ve probably driven past him on weekends or as he rides to work at River City Cycles—something he’s been doing for 20 years.
Troy has no “team” as such—just friends, family and a burning dream.
This, in large measure, is the significance of the story. One person, anonymous in their endeavours, aspiring to something, making the sacrifices and doing the work that makes it possible.