LK reponds to Paul Smith's allegations
Peter FitzSimons' latest column in the Sydney Morning Herald:
(and yes, he spells LK's surname wrong.)
Well I never. Two things seemed obvious to me regarding the cancelling of the NBL grand final series between the Kings and the Wildcats. First, that it was the right thing to stop the series dead. And second, that as the Wildcats were ahead 2-1 when the series was called off, it was right to call them the winners, no questions asked, and congrats to them.
Not everyone, however, saw it like that, least of all the owner of the Kings, Paul Smith, who told Andrew Webster of his dealings with NBL owner Larry Kesselman: "We had an explicit three-way conversation last Friday ... It was explicitly stated by the Wildcats and the Kings that neither was to have the championship without completing the five-game series. Explicit."
This is a very strong charge. I approached Kesselman. He is the bloke who put a good chunk of his fortune behind resuscitating the NBL when it was about to collapse five years ago and is a fellow I know personally to be a very quietly spoken, understated businessman.
His answer was without rancour but immediate and firm.
“My word is my bond and there was categorically no such agreement reached between us and the teams. I am proud of our sport and my team, how we have conducted ourselves and the process we ran to achieve what we feel was the right outcome in an unprecedented environment for all involved. We feel blessed on the timing of our season and feel for other sports and the greater community. Thank you.”
Done. Game over. Broadly, basketball's timing could have been better, but only by a few days. In the post-coronavirus world, the NBL is one comp I would name now as the most likely to quickly get back on its feet.