Basketball in Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Basketball in Australia
Going for a hoop, the Kings shooting - Sydney Entertainment Centre.jpg
Country Australia
Governing body Basketball Australia
National team Australia
Nickname(s) Boomers (Men)
Opals (Women)
First played 1900, Adelaide, South Australia
Registered players ? (total)
161,200 (adult)[1]
Clubs 415 (Men)
79 (Women)
638 (Total)
National competitions
Club competitions
Audience records
Single match 17,803 (1999) NBL: Sydney Kings v West Sydney Razorbacks (Sydney Super Dome)
Season 725,494 - 2003-04 NBL season

Basketball is a sport played both indoors and outdoors in Australia. Basketball remains one of the most popular participation sports in Australia, having a larger participation base than Cricket, Rugby league and Rugby union.[2] In Victoria, it is experiencing a large participation boom for youths and is the largest participation sport in that state.[3][4][5] It was one of the most popular spectator sports in the early to mid-1990s,[6][7][8] however its spectator popularity has hugely declined since then.

Australia has produced several professional basketballers for major overseas leagues.

The sport does retain a notable presence and international matches attract some media attention.


The first basketball match was played in Adelaide, at the Old Boys' Institute (OBI) on Wakefield St in 1897, between the OBI and Semaphores Boys Club. It took two decades for the first association to be established in Victoria in the 1920s.

Basketball grew steadily throughout the 20th century.

The National Basketball League (NBL) is the top-level men's basketball competition, which began in 1979.

The Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) is the top women's basketball league, having begun in 1981.

The sport experienced rapid growth in the late 1980s as young people became more interested in American culture. Wearing basketball jerseys became a fashion statement for many teenagers and basketball hoops proliferated in the backyards and basketball courts were, and still are, common at schools.

Capitalising on growing interest in the sport, the national competition became a huge hit in the major cities, providing a full entertainment package. Participation boomed and key people in the football codes, particularly Australian rules football[citation needed] began to express concern that it present a drain on talent in the Australian Football League (AFL) due to players looking for bigger money playing basketball in the United States. A few players including Luc Longley, Andrew Gaze, Shane Heal, Chris Anstey, Andrew Bogut, Lauren Jackson, Patrick Mills, Bailey Weaver, Dante Exum and Matthew Dellavedova did actually make it big internationally, becoming poster figures for the sport in Australia.

Between the mid and late 1990s, however, the NBL went into sharp decline, particularly in the major cities.

The decline was such that the 1998-99 NBL Season shifted to the current summer season format (October–April) in an attempt to avoid competing directly against Australia's various football codes which were rapidly rising in popularity.

As the barrier to entry to the national competition lowered, basketball found a niche in smaller towns and cities. Australians continue to support international basketball, particularly Olympic basketball and paralympic wheelchair basketball. During the Sydney 2000 Olympics a record crowd of 16000 watched Australia versus the United States of America in the men's wheelchair basketball in the SuperDome.

After 2001, the AFL began to reverse the trend and target basketball talent, luring several promising young players including Dean Brogan and Kurt Tippett. As a rookie basketball player just out of the Australian Institute of Sport, Brogan won an NBL championship with the Adelaide 36ers in 1998 as a 19 year old and had a season with the Newcastle Falcons before embarking on an Australian football career with AFL club Port Adelaide where he won the AFL premiership in 2004, becoming the first person to win national titles in both the NBL and AFL.

A number of well publicised injuries occurred with backyard basketball hoops also resulting in stricter council regulations in many cities.[9]

In 2007, the sport went into crisis, with several of the major clubs defaulting and political finger pointing tore the sport apart before in 2009 threatening to send the sport into complete chaos.[10]

A new interest in basketball happened during the 2008 finals due to the closeness of the series.[11] Melbourne and Sydney fought out 5 close game with Melbourne winning in the deciding game at Sydney Entertainment Centre in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,244 . It was the first time it hosted a sell-out game since the 2003 grand final game against Perth. It was called one of the best series ever.[12]

The 2010–11 NBL season returned to free-to-air television with 2 games per week shown on Channel Ten and One HD. This deal runs up until the end of the 2014/15 season, with 5 games a week to be shown in the last season of the deal.

Crowds improved in the 2013–14 NBL season, recording the highest cumulative crowd attendance figures for the past five years.[13]

National Teams[edit]

The Boomers are the men's basketball team which represents Australia in international competitions. As of 2016, the Boomers have won 19 FIBA Oceania Championships and one Commonwealth Games Gold Medal in 2006. They have never placed at the Olympic Games or World Cup, their best finish being 4th place at the Olympics in 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2016 and 5th at the 1982 and 1994 World Cup's.

The women's national team is the Opals, which has won Olympic silver in 2000, 2004 and 2008, Olympic bronze in 1996 and 2012, as well as gold at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and bronze at the 1998, 2002 and 2014 Women's World Cup.

National competitions[edit]

League system[edit]


  1. ^ Basketball Profile: 2000 Census Archived June 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Ben Madgen. "National Basketball League: Corporate". Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  3. ^ "Basketball numbers are booming in Geelong - Local News - Geelong, VIC, Australia". 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  4. ^ "Basketball popularity exploding across Melbourne's fringe". Herald Sun. 2010-06-28. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  5. ^ "World Cup soccer fans abandon reality for fantasy, says Neil Mitchell". Herald Sun. 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Investigation launched into backyard basketball hoops (2005-03-29) Archived July 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Call to delay launch of reformed league
  11. ^ "Tigers crowned NBL champions | Sports News". Fox Sports. 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  12. ^ "Melbourne Tigers Championship story". YouTube. 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  13. ^

External links[edit]