Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge will write a regular column for thewest.com.au during the NBL season.
When basketball is played the way it should be played it is truly the best game in the world.
It’s played by some of the most athletic sports people going around, and fans of basketball are often treated to some unbelievable entertainment, but I’m very disappointed to say that NBL basketball of late has started to resemble world championship wrestling.
Basketball in Australia has become so physical that it’s taking away from pure basketball, and I don’t like that it is heading in that direction. I think other coaches will agree with me when I say the NBL has become a survival of the fittest, and it is not enjoyable to coach this type of basketball.
I know that I coach a physical basketball team, but we go out there and look to play pressure defence, not to push, shove and hold our opposition because we don’t like to play that way.
Unfortunately, as teams get away with it, there is more of it as other teams have to match their opponents in terms of physicality if they want to win a game. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped or we could end up losing some of the best players in the leagues.
I look at a star import like Kevin Lisch, the MVP of the NBL, and the only way to slow him down is to bump and hold and grind him down, and belt him coming off screens. It’s disappointing to think Australia could lose a guy like him because, why would he want to continue putting up with that? He might as well play in another league, possibly earn more money, and not have to worry about his physical well being every time he steps out onto the court.
When I look at leagues in Europe and in the NBA, when a hard foul or physical play is made on its better players, the calls are made, and I believe something needs to be done so the NBL so we can get back to allowing the better players to excite the fans and not get caught up in the grind of over physical play.
It’s hard to know who to point the finger at when looking for a reason as to why it’s become like this. Is it the teams? Is it the coaches, or the referees allowing the physical play to happen? I think it’s a combination of everything, but something has to be done.
It’s too late to make any changes for this season, but I think before the next one begins we need to have a meeting with the coaches, administrators and referees and referee coaches so we can decide how we want the league to be perceived, because right now it is like a wrestling match out there and is becoming less entertaining for the fans.
On Thursday we are back at Perth Arena against Melbourne, and I expect another overly physical encounter. We want to win a championship so no matter who we play we will be matching their physicality to do our best to get the job done, and I expect that’s how every other team is thinking as well.
But I hope that the NBL can get back to entertaining fans with pure basketball as soon as possible.
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