Splinky
Earlier this year

NZ Fan Reaction to Organisational Changes?

Can anybody provide insight into what the local fan reaction has been to the changes that have occurred to the NZ Breakers? Being in Perth, I have no feel for what is being said locally, but if I was a supporter, I would be devastated.

Since the Blackwell's sold, the business appears to have gone from a well-organised business with the potential to compete every year, to one that seems to be picking up handfuls of mud and slinging them against a wall to see what sticks.

They don't seem to have an overarching strategy, and they seem to have virtually lost any local NZ flavour they once had so much of.

The current management also seems willing to make big pronouncements in an attempt to build excitement, but the reality of these announcements are not such a big deal.

Just wondering if there is a push-back coming from the NZ fan base, or are they cool with the direction the club/business is taking?

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Anonymous  
Earlier this year

There has already been a push back from that NZ content you speak of as Illi for example asked to be released from his contract because it has gotten so bad. He wont be the last to jump ship either.

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K. Dilkington  
Earlier this year

Mixed bag... Kiwis loved the homegrown family values vibe... but they also love a winner - the shrinking attendances at Spark in the last few years tell you which they value more. The diehards of course miss the days of it being a national squad with two imports, but I think they understand that approach no longer wins you the NBL. The Hampton signing has been great for profile and membership sales by all accounts, and it's certainly increased interest with the casuals.

Notwithstanding all that - new management couldn't have been more heavy handed if they tried. Doing away with Henare, Vukona, Pledger, Ili, Dewhurst (court announcer) and a lot of front office staff in one off-season alienates a lot of people. Hype, headlines, lots of "celebs" paid to sit courtside, not a lot of results.

The other thing that I think rubs people up the wrong way is the way the Barstool guys treating the club as a plaything and not as an entity with longtime fans/a history that predates their involvement...

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Anonymous  
Earlier this year

"Doing away with Henare, Vukona, Pledger, Ili, Dewhurst (court announcer) and a lot of front office staff in one off-season alienates a lot of people."

This.

I think if they get a winning formula on-court that will translate to bums on seat and dollars, but I think they really underestimated how much following Henare, Vukona and Pledger had.

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D2.0  
Earlier this year

"The diehards of course miss the days of it being a national squad with two imports, but I think they understand that approach no longer wins you the NBL."

Interesting Comment.

I have no idea of the current TB strength. But as a general rule, if you could keep that loyal Kiwi core, guys who enjoy playing for a defacto National team (in what must rank as one of the world's greatest sporting rivalries) that will generally give you a very solid team.
Plus upto 3 imports gives you the ability to top up when the NZ contingent is weaker.

There's a lot of deckchair shuffling that goes on in the NBL. Bench players moving almost annually for a promise of greener grass, and maybe a few extra bucks.
Better for NZ to build that Kiwi culture and try to hold onto their guys, instead of becoming just another participant in the shuffle.

Losing guys like Vukona and Pledger, allegedly because you insulted them with low-ball offers, is just plain stupid.
They're clearly still good enough to play significant roles. So why let them go, then struggle to replace them with Sudanese-Aussies, who presumably want just as much money.

Not sure about Wesley, he seems a bit more mercenary, but if they could have kept hold of him and got him nationalised, he would have been a great asset.

And I don't understand why they keep changing coaches like underpants?

Henare is their National Coach, very successful, and clearly highly regarded. The allround synergies of having him were advantageous.

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PyroCross  
Earlier this year

The hard part is that the Blackwells did not do anything wrong in establishing a basketball culture. They ran the Breakers like they did their supermarkets - it well and truly was a family and former Breakers returned (Boucher, Vukona et al) because years of toil to create a development culture did its work. Their 'no dickheads' policy was known. There was consistency and in the former NBL that couldn't turn profits or commercial sensibility, that culture got us championships.

But I don't see that model working in the current NBL. The Blackwells couldn't keep up with the profit-making, talent-spending ambition of the NBL. Even at the height of success, being the hottest ticket in Auckland for sporting success, in a central spot, they couldn't consistently sell out Vector (now Spark) Arena. Even with rings, they weren't making money. They weren't eager to spend over the salary cap, and as Sydney and Melbourne became flush with talent, at some point that talent would win out.

And there's a bit of a Kiwi talent gap. After Abercrombie, there are very few Kiwis who would take NBL salaries that could step-up into major TB roles. The development pathway that brought Vukona, Pledger, Webster and Abercrombie currently has brought Raukawa, Vodanovich, Rusbatch and others in the last two seasons, not quite the same level of player to make their journey into NBL roleplayer/starter.

All things considered, I'm very intrigued about this season. RJ Hampton will be super fun to watch (a top 5 HS recruit playing here!?!), Finn Delany has stepped up, will Corey Webster get out of his season-long funk. But the current ownership have their work cut out for them.

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Anonymous  
Earlier this year

The Breakers ownership and management got it badly wrong last season.

That first game that Shawn Marion attended was one of the worst of my life.

This season? They are tracking much better.

Early days...

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Anonymous  
Earlier this year

Its very difficult in the FIBA qualification era to build a team with nine New Zealand national team players. Your team gets absolutely decimated when the FIBA window opens, especially right before the playoffs, which is what happened two seasons ago when they got swept by Melbourne. Not to mention the fact that you give up your head coach, assistant coach, trainer, etc etc. Having a 50/50 split of Kiwis and imports/Aussies is a much more sustainable model with this current system that FIBA put in place.

Even though the Breakers are being knocked for "not having enough Kiwis" they are seeing six players head off to China for the World Cup, which puts a major damper on their preparation process. They will have less than a week to prepare for the Blitz, then head to the US for two NBA preseason games. That's difficult enough as is.

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Anonymous  
Earlier this year

Having your head coach also be in charge of a national team is a massive conflict of interest as we are seeing with Lemanis and Brisbane right now. This is likely going to be the last year of that arrangement once new investors come in. Its a great deal for Basketball Australia to have the NBL prop them up and mask how little investment they make, but from a club/ownership standpoint, it makes absolutely zero sense. In almost every league in Europe you see separation between the national team and club teams. For example Spain there are clear rules saying you aren't allowed to do both.

That's the main reason Henare isn't coaching the Breakers anymore (although it was actually his decision to step away).

Ili couldn't handle being a NBL starter last season and saw the writing on the wall when RJ Hampton was signed -- hence him asking to get out of his contract to go be the third string point guard at Melbourne (a better role for him).

Vukona was washed up, overpaid, and overrated. He will start this season on the injured reserve, which is not a surprise considering he's 37.

Pledger is a dinosaur in modern basketball and costs three times what a guy like Atej Majok makes.

The one guy that would look good in a Breakers uni is Te Rangi. Problem is they are absolutely loaded at the 2/3 spots with Sek Henry, Scotty Hopson, Abercrombie and Corey Webster, so not clear exactly where he would play.

Had New Zealand fans packed Spark arena every game when the whole team was made up of Kiwi national team players there would be a better argument for continuing to follow that model. In reality, fans and media were completely apathetic despite all their national pride, not to mention four championships, and the team was losing money hand over foot, which is the main reason why the Blackwells decided to sell.

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Anonymous  
Earlier this year

I've always suspected, but don’t know for sure, is that the team has possibly overpaid for some of those Kiwis. Jobs for the boys, at its worst extreme, it sometimes felt the pendulum had swung too far from the early days of a team filled with Aussie journeymen when there were better Kiwis available.

I’m sure Walsh and now Shamir have a lot of knowledge on player worth and market, and probably looked at some players and thought they were overpaid for what they brought to the table.

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KET  
Earlier this year

It's possible they're overpaid as a legacy from past success and now being over their peak?

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D2.0  
Earlier this year

Umm, its not a conflict of interest when you have only ONE team, and that is a defacto national team (ie the NZ in "NZ Breakers") in an o/s competition.

Henare also coaches in the NZBL, that's more likely to be a conflict.

I didn't realise there was a problem with the FIBA window. That's a fucker for sure. They need to work with FIBA and the league to ensure their window aligns with ours.
LK is a very pragmatic guy, he wants the Breakers to be competitive.

Pledgersorus made the GF last season with MU, and they are highly rated again, so clearly he still has something to offer. He would be part of the capped 5, so not earning massive bucks. Majok has been playing in Lebanon and China, so would have been on good coin.

It's concerning when you say that they couldn't maximise attendance, even during their 3-peat years. I'd be very interested to understand the reasons for that, because if true, that's fucked.
I would have thought that Kiwis would love to get behind a team kissing arse in the Australian League?

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K. Dilkington  
Earlier this year

Attendance was strong through the three-peat years - regular sellouts at both Spark and NSEC. It took a big hit in the 2013-14 season after the three-peat and has been slowly trending downwards ever since - last couple of years a average-good crowd at Spark is about 5K (with curtains down over the upper rows). Probably a reflection of the actual following of the NBL in NZ vs the bandwagoners.

Aucklanders are fickle... but there are heaps of NBA fans that never would have gone to a Breakers game before - the Hampton signing I think has piqued their interest.

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PyroCross  
Earlier this year

Pledger has something to offer, but we were paying him and Vukona starter money. Neither would've been our bottom five salaries. Hence the tough decision.

Knowing that the Breakers sought after Will Weaver but couldn't get him, I think the Braswell signing was a collective shrug in hindsight. Why offer him the three year deal if he was a lame-duck? That's a question to be asked.

But Zico Coronel is an underrated assistant coach signing - very talented offensive mind who could be the future Head Coach in no time. Veeeeery glad the Breakers got him onboard, says something about the current group.

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koberulz  
Earlier this year

They need to work with FIBA and the league to ensure their window aligns with ours.
There really is no end to your cluelessness, is there?

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Anonymous  
Earlier this year

Having Zico under Shamir for 2-3 years is clever. I coached against Zico when he was at Hamilton Boys and even then you could see potential future genius. He's also served a lengthy apprenticeship as an assistant in the NZ NBL. One wonders why the ownership let Henare go so quickly only to fill his role with Braswell, who may get there one day, but was clearly inexperienced at NBL level.

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Perthworld  
Earlier this year

Apart from all the titles and strong club culture another offshoot of the Blackwell's successful legacy at the Breakers is making Lemanis look so good that they've possibly and inadvertently sabotaged the Boomers!

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