- National Teams
For Episode 93 of the Hoopsfix Podcast, we sit down with Commissioner of the Australian NBL, Jeremy Loeliger.
Loeliger has overseen an unprecedented growth period of the NBL across the past 5 years, as the league has gone from on the verge of bankruptcy to one of the most prominent leagues globally with arguably the closest product as a game day experience to the NBA. Click here to enter your details and be notified when we release our in depth case study.
In 2015, multi-millionaire Larry Kestleman took a 51% controlling stake in the league (he now owns 94%) for $7million operating capital, and brought on Loeliger as General Manager to oversee the transition. Those 5 years have seen tens of millions of dollars invested, packed out stadiums, free to air tv deals, rafts of sponsorship agreements, franchise valuations go from tens of thousands to multi millions, and the league having become a breeding ground for NBA prospects who do not want to go to college like LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton through the Next Stars program.
There are some remarkable similarities to the BBL’s history – both had a ‘heyday’ in the 90s, before experiencing an extreme lull, both countries do not own their own facilities and arenas, both leagues used to have equal ownership between every franchise (the BBL still does), and both have to battle culturally against bigger national sports.
It was hard to get into everything within an hour, but we discussed the progress of the NBL and tried to extract the learnings for the BBL.
04:56 Interview start
05:00 History of the NBL and how Larry Kestleman and Jeremy Loeliger came to be involved
17:39 How much investment it took to turn things around
23:40 The first deals and how much they relied on their relationships
27:07 How important the relationship between the federation and the pro league is
32:34 The underrated role the Australian Basketball Players Association has played in it
37:03 The importance of having home grown talent in the league
41:52 Decision making within the NBL and with the franchises
44:21 Teams buy in when they see the success
46:03 Whether the league currently owns any of the franchises
49:44 The importance of having a centralised marketing plan
52:30 How important digital and social has been to the growth of the league in the last 5 years
55:30 Whether the NBL is now profitable
56:08 How much more room the NBL has for growth
57:01 The importance of having people that know both basketball and business
58:53 Sign off and positive conversations about British basketball
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