Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze has described the move to rebrand the iconic Melbourne Tigers as “gut-wrenching”.
Club officials today confirmed the team would be known as Melbourne United and wear navy blue and white uniforms in the National Basketball League next season.
The move was designed to unite all Victorian basketball fans and sever ties with the Tigers junior club.
The decision has attracted an overwhelmingly negative response from basketball fans on social media, with many Tigers supporters saying that felt alienated by the club.
Gaze, who played for the Tigers over two decades and became one of Australian basketball’s best-known figures, revealed he had been consulted about the rebranding process over the past year and disagreed with the decision.
“Unfortunately it seems as though the club will no longer exist in the NBL, which is disappointing,” Gaze said on SEN this morning.
“I’m sure the owners will do their best to maintain some of their heritage but at the end of the day it’s a new beginning for them.
“It’s an unusual decision, I can understand what they’re doing because it’s not without logic but I think it’s flawed.
“I don’t agree with it and I think it’s gut-wrenching.
“I have been consulted spasmodically about this over the past twelve months.
“They don’t believe that maintaining the brand is going to provide them with the opportunities for success that they can have with a new entity.”
Tigers legend Lanard Copeland condemned the decision to change the name of the club he played with for over a decade.
The dual championship player asked for his retired singlet to be taken down and said he would cut all ties with the franchise.
“It’s been a sad 18 hours hearing the bad news,” Copeland said.
“I think it is a disgrace that these guys are going and ripping the heart out of the Melbourne Tigers.
“I’m not happy and feel like it’s for financial gain.
“I don’t want to be a part of it anymore, it makes you sick to your stomach.
“Please take my singlet down, it’s not a Melbourne Tigers game, it’s not a Melbourne Tigers team and I don’t want my jersey hanging in the rafters.”
NBL chief executive Fraser Neill said the decision to rebrand the Tigers as Melbourne United was based on extensive research and the club hierarchy had started the process 18 months ago.
“This has obviously been a long time in development and is based on extensive research and analysis by the club,” Neill said.
“The club knows its market best and believe this is the best way for them to grow the great game of basketball across Melbourne.”