Diatribe | Issue 9
Why does anyone care about the Breakers?
When you watch an NBA game you will be instantly impressed by the athleticism of the players. If you thought Tom Abercrombie could jump, think again. Try Blake Griffin, heís a human highlight reel. When he dunks his face is above the rim. His face! The NBA understands what the fans want to see. Players performing breathtaking feats of athleticism. Their tagline isnít ďwhere amazing happensĒ by accident. Basketball isnít about the score, itís about the highlight reel. Ages ago the NBA made the 3-point line way further back to discourage all those pesky white guys who just shot threes. I can watch people shoot threes at Unipol. They implemented an area under the hoop where the attacking player cannot get called for a charge, perfect for facilitating those ridiculous Blake Griffin dunks. They pretty much discarded the travelling rule, allowing the genetic freaks to get a good run-up before doing a windmill dunk with their chin above the rim. The NBA gets it. The ANBL is stuck in the past. Can you imagine a slam-dunk contest featuring ANBL players? No, me neither. I think Alex Pledger gets closer to the ground when he jumps.
As I already said, the athletes in the Australian NBL are inferior to that of the NBA, but just how inferior is astounding. Letís take a typical American import such as Breakers point guard Cedric Jackson. He played college basketball at St. Johns but had to switch colleges to get playing time. When he left college he was signed temporarily by two NBA teams, the Cavaliers and the Spurs. He then dropped steadily down through the development leagues in the US before heading to Europe to play for an Italian team. He couldnít make the grade there so ended up in Auckland where the salary cap per team is $1 million dollars (the NBA salary cap is around $58 million per team). Jackson dropped down four, maybe five levels of competition before ending up at the Breakers. Jackson was voted the fourth best player in the entire ANBL. One of the top five players in the ANBL isnít even good enough to play in Europe, let alone the States. Remember Kirk Penney? He was three times as good as anybody else in the ANBL last season. Heís a proven scorer at international level. He trialled for NBA teams and couldnít get a contract. The ANBL might as well not exist to people not in Australia or New Zealand. Itís not a high standard of basketball.
What position do the Breakers hold in the sporting landscape? If you are a basketball fan and you happen to live in Auckland I wouldnít blame you for going to watch the Breakers. Itís the best basketball in the country, apart from extremely rare international games. But what if you donít live in Auckland? Did anyone watch a Breakers regular season game on TV? Wow. They. Are. Horrible. You can tell that the few spectators at the game donít care so there is no atmosphere to speak of. They are televised at 7:30pm on a Tuesday or a Wednesday so they are up against the best that prime time can throw at them. The NBA on the other hand nicely fills up that mid-afternoon timeslot which is perfect for missing lectures.
Loving the Breakers is fine. Itís a fun bandwagon to jump on once a year. But please donít ever think of considering the ANBL as anything more that it really is: A basketball backwater populated only by un-athletic journeymen shooting threes and Americans who couldnít make it at home. There is real basketball out there, played by amazing athletes who are the best in the world at what they do. You just have to turn your Sky remote to channel 34. Also, any league where 36-year-old Dillon Boucher is considered a professional athlete is clearly only just above a joke.
Photo courtesy MR FOOJI