|Founded||1982 as Adelaide City Eagles|
|Arena||The Brett Maher Court
|Team colours||Blue, red and yellow
|General manager||Dean Parker|
|Head coach||Joey Wright|
|Team captain||Adam Gibson|
|Ownership||Save Our Sixers Consortium|
|Championships||4 (1986, 1998, 1999, 2002)|
The Adelaide 36ers (also well known as "The Sixers") are an Australian professional men's basketball team that competes in the National Basketball League (NBL). The 36ers are the only team in the league representing the state of South Australia and are based in the state capital, Adelaide. The club was originally called the Adelaide City Eagles when they joined the NBL in 1982, but changed their name to the 36ers the following year. The 36ers nickname comes from the fact that the Colony of South Australia was officially proclaimed on 28 December 1836. They play their home games at the Adelaide Arena, known as "The Brett Maher Court" within the NBL.
- 1 Club history
- 2 Sponsorship
- 3 Coaches
- 4 Ownership
- 5 Home Arena
- 6 Mascot
- 7 36ers Curse
- 8 Honour roll
- 9 Season-by-Season
- 10 Club and Player records
- 11 Current roster
- 12 Retired numbers
- 13 Famous players and fans
- 14 1986 NBL Championship Team
- 15 References
- 16 External links
1980s: The Golden Era
The Adelaide 36ers were born as the Adelaide City Eagles when they joined the NBL in 1982. Mike Osborne was appointed as team coach, Chris Stirling was captain and the team played out of the 3,000 seat Apollo Stadium. The Eagles performed well in their first season but missed the playoffs finishing in 7th place on the ladder with a 15–11 record. The championship was won that year by Adelaide's other NBL team at the time the West Adelaide Bearcats who featured future 36ers in 1982 NBL MVP Al Green, Moscow Olympian Peter Ali and veteran guard Ray Wood.
The Adelaide City Eagles changed their name after the 1982 season to the Adelaide 36ers to reflect on the history of South Australia's proclamation in 1836. Mike Osborne continued as head coach while David Winslow was named team captain. The 36ers once again missed the NBL playoffs in 1983 finishing 6th on the ladder with an 11–11 record.
The 1984 NBL season saw the first time the 36ers would reach the NBL finals, finishing the regular season in 3rd place in the Western Division with a 16–7 record. The team lost their Elimination Final to the Nunawading Spectres 108–101. Following the season, Mike Osborne was not retained as coach. With the West Adelaide Bearcats facing financial difficulties, the club pulled out of the NBL after 1984 with a number of their players joining the 36ers. From 1985 the Adelaide 36ers would be the sole South Australian team in the NBL.
Former Australian Boomer and 1964 Olympic representative Ken Cole was signed as coach of the Adelaide 36ers for the 1985 NBL season. Under Cole, the 36ers became one of the league's premier teams. Import players including 6'9" (207 cm) centre Bill Jones, New York-born combo guard Al Green (who had been drafted by the San Diego Chargers as a Defensive back in the 1979 NFL Draft despite not playing football) and an NBL rookie in 24-year-old forward from Philadelphia, Mark Davis who joined the team 5 games into the season, combined with local players Darryl Pearce, team captain Peter Ali, young gun Mike McKay, and veteran Ray Wood to help Adelaide to a 20–6 record and second on the regular season ladder behind the Brisbane Bullets. The team had a bye going into the semi-final where they easily defeated for the Newcastle Falcons 151–103 at home in what is still a record semi-final win in the NBL. In the last single game NBL grand final ever played, Adelaide were up against the Brisbane Bullets on the Bullets' home court (Sleeman Sports Centre). Going into the final period the game the Bullets' were leading 78–74 but a 42–21 last period in favour of the home team saw Adelaide fail to win their first grand final going down 95–120.
1985 would see Al Green set a single season points per game record for the 36ers when he scored 31.0 ppg in 28 games played (the record still stands as of 2012–13). Green, who Ken Cole chose to move to Point guard and leave Darryl Pearce at off guard, adjusted to his new role running the team's offense and also led the team in assists for the first time averaging 5.1 per game. Hos form saw him selected to his second All-NBL First Team after also winning selection in 1981 while with West Adelaide. For his efforts during the season, 19-year-old guard Mike McKay was awarded the NBL's Rookie of the Year award (despite having already played two seasons with West Adelaide in 1983 and 1984). McKay played all 28 games, averaging 12.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
1986 would see the Adelaide 36ers win the first of their four NBL championships. 20 year old import centre Bill Jones replaced Peter Ali as captain and 6'6" (199 cm) forward Dwayne Nelson returned to the team after a year away, while Ken Cole would win the NBL Coach of the Year award after guiding the team to a 24–2 record, 5 more wins than the second placed Canberra Cannons. The 36ers were undefeated at home during the regular season going 13–0, the first time a club had gone unbeaten at home in league history. The two games the 36ers lost in the regular season were both last second shots against the West Sydney Westars and Coburg Giants respectively. Those two losses ultimately denied Adelaide a perfect season but earned the team the nickname "The Invincibles" (the nickname was given by Adelaide's multi-award winning basketball journalist Boti Nagy). Again earning a bye into the semi-finals, Adelaide this time accounted for the Illawarra Hawks 116–92 before moving onto their second grand final in a row, this time to be played over three games instead of the single game that had been in place previously. Once again facing the Brisbane Bullets, the 36ers won the first game of the series 122–119 in overtime at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Back home in Adelaide the 36ers would lose only their third game of the year (and first at home) when they lost game two 83–104. The final game played at home in front of a packed Apollo Stadium saw the Adelaide 36ers win their first championship with a 113–91 victory. Mark Davis finished second in the NBL in total rebounds (15.8 per game), won the NBL Grand Final MVP award and also won selection in the All NBL First Team. The 36ers average winning margin in 1986 was 17.8 points and 25 years later during the 2011–12 NBL season, the 1986 36ers were named the league's greatest ever team on the NBL's official website.
Despite the on court success there was controversy at the club during the 1986 season with coach Ken Cole suspended towards the end of the regular season by the club board over his smoking of marijuana joint during a road trip to Brisbane, a situation that Cole was open about and never denied. Indeed, he stated that he was recommended it by his family doctor as a way of dealing with health problems and physical pain. After the story was broken in one of Adelaide's daily newspaper's at the time, The Advertiser, Cole was suspended by the club for the last two games and the team was coached by his assistant Don Shipway. Before the playoffs, the players got together and went to the club board demanding Cole's return, going so far as to tell the board that they would refuse to play unless Cole was coaching them. Under immense pressure from not only the players but the general public of Adelaide who supported Cole despite his admitted use of the drug, the club board relented and Cole returned for the 1986 playoffs, though it was known that he would be sacked over the incident at the end of the season regardless of a championship win or not.
Ken Cole, the 1986 NBL Coach of the Year and the 1986 championship winning coach was replaced for the 1987 NBL season by former Nunawading Sectres import guard Gary Fox, who would continue the work started by Cole by coaching Adelaide to their second minor premiership in a row with a 21–5 record, though their coaching styles were vastly different. While Cole was a coach who was high on motivating his players, Fox ran a much more stringent operation and the free-flowing 36ers of 1985 and 1986 became far more structured. However, despite the change, for the third season running the team had earned a bye to the semi-finals where this time they would face the Perth Wildcats who were in their first ever playoffs. In a major upset the defending NBL champions lost the series 1–2 to the Wildcats. They won 99–98 in Perth but then lost games two and three 99–101 and 93–103 on their home court. After winning the Grand Final MVP award in 1986, Mark Davis would continue to have a major impact on the NBL when he jointly won the league's MVP award with Brisbane's Leroy Loggins. Davis also led the league in rebounding averaging 17.8 for the season, the first of two times he would do so in his career.
Adelaide finished with their third minor premiership in a row and the second under Gary Fox after finishing with a 19–5 record in 1988 but would again be beaten Semi-finalists. Bill Jones, who was still playing with the club while also attending the University of Iowa, was replaced as team captain by Australian Boomers representative Darryl Pearce. Against the Ken Cole coached Falcons in Newcastle in Round 2, Darryl Pearce would set a still standing single game scoring record for the 36ers when he scored 48 points including 11 of 14 three-point attempts. 1988 also saw 6'10" (208 cm), Adelaide born centre and AIS attendee Mark Bradtke make his NBL debut for the 36ers. Playing mostly as a backup centre to team captain Bill Jones, Bradtke played in 23 games, averaging 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
Both Pearce and Bradtke won selection for Australia at the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, helping the team to finish 4th after being defeated 49–78 in the Bronze Medal playoff game by the USA. Bradtke's selection at age 19 making him the youngest player at the time to ever represent Australia in Basketball at the Summer Olympics (Bradtke turned 20 during the games).
1989 was Gary Fox's last season with the Adelaide 36ers and it saw the team drop to 6th on the regular season ladder with a 15–9 record. Bill Jones left the team to join former coach Ken Cole in Newcastle and was replaced as an import player by 1983 NCAA West Coast Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year and former Los Angeles Lakers draft pick, 6'10" (209 cm) Orlando Phillips. The team had a down year by its recent standards and Adelaide was eliminated in the Elimination Final by their playoff nemesis, the Perth Wildcats. Mark Bradtke's star continued to rise with the Olympic representative winning the NBL's Most Improved Player award. Bradtke averaged 15.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game over the 24 game season.
36ers long time assistant coach Don Shipway was appointed coach of the team for the 1990 NBL season which was the team miss the playoffs for the first time since 1983 when they finished 9th with an 11–15 record, the club's first ever losing season. Mark Davis became captain of the team in 1990, a position he would hold until the end of the 1996 season.
Shipway was retained as coach for the 1991 NBL season despite the team's worst ever performance in 1990. The team turned their form around finishing the regular season in 4th place with a 16–10 record. They lost their semi-final series to defending and eventual league champion the Perth Wildcats, missing out on their third grand final appearance. 1991 was the last season that local favourite and former captain Darryl Pearce would play for the club, signing with the North Melbourne Giants from 1992. The season was also the team's last playing out of the 3,000 seat Apollo Stadium which had opened in 1969 as a new venue was due to be opened for the 1992 season.
Adelaide had played at the Apollo Stadium since the team's inception in 1982. However ticket demand was more than double that of what Apollo could hold so in conjunction with the Basketball Association of South Australia (BASA), a new home for basketball in South Australia was opened in 1992 in the western suburb of Findon. The A$16m, 8,000 seat Clipsal Powerhouse quickly became a fortress for the 36ers with every game played in front of a sell-out crowd. However their road form wasn't so good and they dropped to 9th on the table with an 11–13 record. Team members Mark Bradtke and Mike McKay would go on to represent Australia at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. 1992 was also the rookie NBL season for Brett Maher who would go on to play a record 526 games for the club and captain the team to three NBL championships.
After their second losing season, the 36ers replaced Don Shipway as coach with Don Monson for the 1993 season. The team had lost centre Mark Bradtke to the Melbourne Tigers during the off-season but gained experience in NBL championship winners, Adelaide born veteran Phil Smyth and veteran 7'0" (213 cm) centre Willie Simmons from the Canberra Cannons. Adelaide improved to a 14–12 record under Monson and made the playoffs finishing in 7th place but were beaten quarter-finalists. Local junior Chris Blakemore was named the 1993 NBL Rookie of the Year, while 8th year guard (and future team coach) Scott Ninnis was voted as the NBL's Most Improved Player, scoring a career best 20.1 points and 4.4 assists per game after returning from two seasons in Melbourne with the Eastside Spectres and the South East Melbourne Magic.
The Adelaide 36ers pulled off a major signing between the 1993 and 1994 seasons when they signed the league's 1993 MVP Robert Rose for two seasons. They also had a new head coach in former NCAA coach Mike Dunlap. Finishing in 4th place with a 19–8 record, the 36ers won their semi-final series against the defending champion Melbourne Tigers to win their way into the 1994 NBL Grand Final series against the North Melbourne Giants. The win over the Tigers came at a cost though as team captain Mark Davis's court time was limited in the Grand Final after dislocating his shoulder during the first game of the semi-finals. Adelaide went down to the Giants 0–2, losing game one at the Powerhouse 93–95 in overtime and game two at The Glass House in Melbourne 117–97. Robert Rose averaged 32 points for the 36ers over the two grand final games, scoring 33 in game one and 31 in game two. He played a major role in game one as Adelaide came back from 63–77 down in the last period down to level the game at 84-all at the end of regulation time and most felt that had Adelaide won the series he would have been the leading candidate for the Grand Final MVP award (the award was deservedly won by Giants centre and future three time 36ers championship player Paul Rees).
Despite the departure of Phil Smyth to the Sydney Kings, Adelaide's good form continued into 1995 with the team reaching the semi-finals where they were eliminated by their playoff nemesis Perth who had also eliminated them in the 1987 and 1991 semi-finals, and the 1989 elimination final. After the 1995 season and twice winning the club's MVP award in his two seasons in Adelaide, Robert Rose was let go by the club who claimed that his asking price was too high. Privately the talk was that at 31 years of age, the club felt his best years were behind him. Rumours began circulating around Adelaide at the time that former NCAA college coach Dunlap preferred to coach younger players who still could be taught and didn't get along very well with the team's older players, which led to the departures of Smyth and Rose.
The team had recruited well going into the 1996 NBL season, obtaining forwards Martin Cattalini from the Perth Wildcats and Leon Trimmingham from the Sydney Kings, as well as 2nd year guard John Rillie from the Brisbane Bullets, Despite continued good form which saw the 36ers again make the playoffs under Dunlap in 1996, the 36ers were again eliminated in the semi-finals. Following the sudden death of his father after the 1996 season, coach Dunlap return home to the United States and decided to stay there to be closer to his family. The club hired former Gold Coast Rollers coach Dave Claxton as his replacement for the 1997 NBL season. This season also saw Brett Maher take over the team captaincy from Mark Davis, something he would hold until his retirement in 2009. Adelaide finished with a 14–16 record in 1997, finishing in 7th place and missing the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
1998–2008: Phil Smyth Era
Claxton was sacked as head coach following the 1997 season and was replaced by rookie coach and former player Phil Smyth, despite Smyth's only previous coaching being as a specialist coach at the Australian Institute of Sport during his playing days in Canberra. The club was banking on his years of NBL and international experience to translate into coaching. The gamble worked and the 36ers turned their fortunes around under Smyth and finished the regular season in 2nd place with a 19–11 record. The club head recruited centre Paul Rees from North Melbourne as well as former Denver Nuggets players Darnell Mee (who joined the team from the Canberra Cannons) and Kevin Brooks. They won through to the 1998 NBL Grand Final series against the South East Melbourne Magic where they would win the club's first championship since 1986 defeating the Magic 2–0, winning Game 1 100–93 at home and Game 2 90–62 at Melbourne Park. Kevin Brooks was named the Grand Final MVP in what was the last ever winter season for the National Basketball League.
Following the 1998 season, the NBL moved from being a winter league to playing during Australia's summer, meaning that seasons would start near the end of one calendar year and finish early in the next. The change in time slot didn't stop the defending NBL champion 36ers though as they finished the 1998–99 regular season with their first minor premiership since 1988 with an 18–8 record. Again winning their way into the Grand Final series, they became three time NBL champions and the first team to win back to back titles in nearly a decade by defeating the Victoria Titans two games to one. Captain Brett Maher was voted the Grand Final MVP and coach Phil Smyth had his second championship in two years of coaching.
At the conclusion of the 1999 NBL championship season, the 36ers were invited to take part in the McDonald's Championship, held at the 12,000 seat Fila Forum in Milan, Italy. The 36ers finished 5th out of 6 in the tournament with a 1–1 record. After losing their first game 79–90 to Brazilian side CR Vasco da Gama, the team won the 5–6 place playoff 91–84 over Lebanese team Hekmeh BC. The 1999 McDonald's Championship was won by NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs who defeated Vasco da Gama 103–68 in the final. To date this was the last McDonald's Championship held.
The 36ers form would continue in both the 1999–2000 and 2000–01 seasons, despite losing star import forward Kevin Brooks to the Sydney Kings for the 99–00 season, though he would return in 2000–01. They were again minor premiers in 1999–2000 with a 22–6 record but missed out on becoming the first team to win three NBL championships in a row when they lost in the Semi-finals. After falling to 6th on the ladder at the end of 2000–01 and just scraping into the playoffs, the 36ers would again only advance as far as the Semi-finals before losing to the eventual champions, the Wollongong Hawks. The 2001–01 season was also the last for longtime player and former club captain Mark Davis who retired from playing after 482 NBL games, all with the Adelaide 36ers. At the time of his retirement, Mark Davis was the NBL's all-time leading rebounder having grabbed 5,200 in his career, averaging 10.7 per game. Import Darnell Mee, in his fourth year with the club would win his third consecutive NBL Best Defensive Player award but would be lost to the club at the end of the season due to salary cap restraints.
2001–02 would see the Adelaide 36ers win a then record fourth NBL title and the third for coach Phil Smyth. The team would finish the regular season in 3rd place with a 17–13 record before winning their way into their sixth NBL Grand Final. Facing the West Sydney Razorbacks, Adelaide were victorious two games to one. Adelaide's 125 points in game 3 is the highest ever score in an NBL Grand Final game while they also hit a Grand Final record 19 three-pointers in the game. Adelaide captain Brett Maher became only the second player in NBL history to win two Grand Final MVP awards.
Under Phil Smyth, Adelaide were beaten Elimination-Finalists in both 2002–03 and 2003–04 despite the addition of imports Willie Farley and the debut of local forward Oscar Forman. They were beaten quarter-finalists in both the 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons. The 2006–07 NBL season saw the 36ers miss the playoffs for the first time since Smyth took over as coach, finishing a club record worst-place of 11th with an 11–13 record. They would again miss the playoffs in 2007–08 finishing in 9th place with a 14–16 record. Following his second losing season, the team decided to replace Phil Smyth as head coach with former player and Smyth assistant Scott Ninnis.
Ninnis would coach the team for two seasons of a 3 season contract, leading the team to the Elimination Finals in 2008–09. The team, which included local junior and former NBA player Luke Schenscher, finished the regular season in 6th place with a 15–15 record before losing their quarter final 131–101 to the New Zealand Breakers in Auckland. 2009 was also the last season for the club games record holder Brett Maher who was retiring after 526 NBL games and three championships with the 36ers. The 2009–10 season was a disaster however and the Adelaide 36ers finished on the bottom of the NBL ladder for the first time in their history with a 10–18 record. American born but naturalised Australian Adam Ballinger, in his third season with the club became team captain in 2009–10 following the retirement of Maher.
Long serving club captain Brett Maher, who made his 36ers debut on the night they opened the Clipsal Powerhouse, retired from the NBL having played in 526 games for the club, captaining the club to 3 NBL championships (1998, 1998/99, 2001/02), and twice winning the NBL's Grand Final MVP award in 1998/99 and 2001/02. On the occasion of his last home game against the New Zealand Breakers in front of an overflow crowd of more than 8,000 fans, the main court at The Dome was renamed the Brett Maher Court. Maher also played over 100 games for the Aussie Boomers and had the honour of captaining the Boomers at the 2001 Goodwill Games held in Brisbane, becoming the first 36ers player to captain his country.
Adelaide and Clarke endured a difficult season in 2010–11. They lost guard Nathan Herbert before the season with an Anterior cruciate ligament injury. Further injuries to import guards Troy DeVries and Craig Winder ultimately saw them replaced in the squad. For the first time in their history, the Adelaide 36ers failed to win at least 10 games in a season, finishing with a 9–19 record. They did avoid their second last place finish in a row only because the returning Sydney Kings finished with an 8–20 record. Captain Adam Ballinger was again the club's leading player as he won his fourth straight club MVP award, finished third in the NBL's MVP voting and was selected to the NBL's All Third team.
Things didn't get any better for the 36ers or their coach Marty Clarke in the 2011–12 and 2012–13 seasons. The club finished with the wooden spoon in both seasons and ended each with an 8–20 record, including a club record losing streak of 8 straight games during both seasons. The club was also plagued by a string of failed imports, though most were lost through injury, others either under-performed or were misused by the coaching staff, with the only shining light being power forward Diamon Simpson who posted 12 double-doubles in 27 games. At the end of the 2012–13 NBL season coach Clarke and his assistant coach Mark Radford were let go by the club. There were bright spots though. The emergence of 6'11" (212 cm) centre Daniel Johnson as a scoring and rebounding threat (he led the club in scoring for both seasons and led the NBL with 8 rebounds per game in 2012–13), the signing of former Gold Coast Blaze players Adam Gibson, Anthony Petrie and Jason Cadee, and the emergence of exciting young Victorian Swingman and crowd favourite Mitch Creek (who suffered a season ending Achilles tendon injury in mid 2012–13), gave fans hope for the future.
For the 2013–14 NBL season, the Adelaide 36ers signed the 2007 NBL championship winning coach Joey Wright as their new head coach and added former 36ers championship player Kevin Brooks as his assistant. In desperate need of on-court direction, the club also signed the 2011 NBL MVP, point guard Gary Ervin. After Round 7 of the season the 36ers, led by Ervin and Johnson, were sitting in 2nd place on the NBL ladder with a 7–2 record which included a 5–0 run. This also saw the team sweep both of their games against the Breakers in Auckland, their first wins over the triple defending champions since 2009. During Rd.7 the 36ers underlined their championship credentials when they defeated the previously undefeated Perth Wildcats 91–86 in front of 6,585 fans at the Adelaide Arena, the largest 36ers home crowd since Brett Maher's last home game in 2009.
The 36ers run in 2013–14 which saw them finish the regular season in second place with an 18-10 record. They then defeated the Melbourne Tigers 2-1 in their Semi-final series before going down 2-1 in the Grand Final series to their long time nemesis Perth who won their record 6th NBL championship. Daniel Johnson won his third straight club MVP award and was also named to the All NBL First Team.
The Adelaide 36ers have reached the playoffs 22 times in 32 full seasons, and on top of their four championships in 1986, 1998, 1998–99 and 2001–02 they reached the Grand Final in 1985, 1994 and 2013–14. They have also finished as minor premier on five occasions (1986, 1987, 1988, 1998–99, 1999–2000), and reached the NBL semi-finals in 1987, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1999/2000 and 2000/01.
The Adelaide 36ers were previously sponsored by Pura Milk and with the naming rights of Pura Milk 36ers. Before this they were the West End 36ers (as in West End Brewery) during their first title year (1986) while also taking various names from West End products including being known for a time during the 1990s as the Eagle Super 6ers. In 2009 the team was sponsored by Hood Sweeney, an Adelaide based consulting firm and were known as the Hood Sweeney Adelaide 36ers. Other major sponsors include Kia Motors and Sprint Auto Parts.
As of 2013–14, the team's major sponsor is VIP Home Services.
The first head coach of the Adelaide City Eagles in 1982 was Mike Osborne, who would coach the team (renamed the Adelaide 36ers in 1983) until the end of the 1984 season.
As of the 2014–15 NBL season, the Adelaide 36ers have had eleven head coaches, including Ken Cole who coached the team to two NBL Grand Finals in his two seasons with the club (1985 and 1986) and led the team to their first ever championship in 1986, the first time the NBL Grand Final was a best of 3 series instead of a single championship game.
American Mike Dunlap who led the team to the 1994 NBL Grand Final series against the North Melbourne Giants, and the 1995 NBL Semi-finals, went on to become head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA for one season in 2012–2013, becoming the first person to be a head coach in both the NBL and the NBA.
The 36ers longest serving coach was Adelaide born Australian basketball legend Phil Smyth. "The General" coached the team for 11 seasons from 1998 to 2007–08, leading the club to the 1998, 1998–99 and 2001–02 NBL championships. In 1998 Smyth became the first rookie coach since Brian Kerle in the league's inaugural season (1979) to win an NBL championship, thought unlike Kerle, Smyth had no previous senior coaching experience other than as a part-time specialist coach at the Canberra based Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) during his playing days with the Canberra Cannons.
List of 36ers Coaches
- Mike Osborne: 1982–1984
- Ken Cole: 1985–1986
- Gary Fox: 1987–1989
- Don Shipway: 1990–1992
- Don Monson: 1993
- Mike Dunlap: 1994–1996
- Dave Claxton: 1997
- Phil Smyth: 1998–2008
- Scott Ninnis: 2008–2010
- Marty Clarke: 2010–2013
- Joey Wright: 2013–present
In April 2006 the 36ers, the Adelaide Lightning WNBL team and the team's home venue, the Distinctive Homes Dome (now the Adelaide Arena), went up for sale due to mishandling of debt owed to the government by the then owner BASA. On 25 July 2006, a consortium of NBL chairman Mal Hemmerling, and Eddy Groves of ABC Learning bought the Adelaide 36ers and the Distinctive Homes Dome for $3.95 million – with Hemmerling in place as owner of the 36ers and Groves as the owner of the stadium. The money for the sale went to the government to wipe out the debt owed by BASA. BASA is now defunct and replaced by Basketball SA – focused solely on all Basketball in SA and no one competition.
Between 1982 and 1991, the home court of the Eagles/36ers was the old 3,000 seated Apollo Stadium which had been built in 1969. From 1985 onward, home games were usually in front of sell-out crowds, but going into the 1990s demand for 36ers tickets was greater than what Apollo Stadium could hold. Additionally, the NBL as a whole was also experiencing a boom with the Brisbane Bullets, Perth Wildcats, and Sydney Kings all enjoying record attendances in their respective cities' new entertainment centre's, the smallest of those being Perth which held almost three times what Apollo could. During their time at Apollo, the Adelaide 36ers reached the 1985 Grand Final (played in Brisbane) and hosted two games of the successful 1986 Grand Final series win over Brisbane. The 36ers final game at their original home was a 102–99 semi-final loss to the Perth Wildcats in 1991.
By the end of the 1991 NBL season, Adelaide was one of only 5 teams in the league (there were 14) who did not have a home venue that could hold at least 5,000 fans, and it was the only state capital based team (other than the unrepresented Darwin) not to have a home venue that could hold at least 5,200 fans.
The 36ers and the BASA built a new home arena in the western suburb of Findon, which opened in 1992. Initially it was thought that the 36ers would move into the 11,000 seat, South Australian Government owned Adelaide Entertainment Centre, which opened in 1991. The Entertainment Centre had been built as the replacement for Apollo Stadium as Adelaide's major indoor concert venue as Apollo was continually being overlooked by international music acts due to its smaller size. However, rather than just be a tenant where they would pay a fee to use the facility and be subject to possible date changes due to pre-booked events, both the Adelaide 36ers and BASA wished for their own venue of operations and play that would serve as the home of basketball in South Australia.
The then-named Clipsal Powerhouse, which has an official capacity of 8,000, was and still is the largest purpose-built basketball stadium in all of Australia. Clipsal would sponsor the venue until the end of the 2001–02 season, after which it became known as the Distinctive Homes Dome in recognition of the sponsorship from Distinctive Homes.
The Dome had been without a naming rights sponsor since mid-2009. However, on 7 February of that same year, before a crowd of 7,800 fans, the main court was named the Brett Maher Court. This was due in honour of retiring long time club captain Brett Maher who had made his 36ers and NBL debut on the night the Powerhouse opened in 1992. He had played all 526 career NBL games for the club on that same court. That day, the 36ers, led by Maher, who scored 17 points in his last ever home game, defeated the New Zealand Breakers by a final score of 102–91. The venue is now (as of 2013) officially known as the Adelaide Arena.
During 2012 and 2013, the Adelaide Arena was in the hands of the Commonwealth Bank after former owner Eddy Groves defaulted on his loan. After much speculation that the venue would be sold and turned into a venue for other purposes, including rumours of the building being turned it into a church (effectively leaving the 36ers without a home venue and the unwanted possibility of playing at the Entertainment Centre or even the 3,000 seat Netball SA Stadium), it was announced on 3 April 2013 that SA Church Basketball and Scouts SA had become joint owners of the Adelaide Arena, ensuring it remains the home of basketball in South Australia and for both of Adelaide's national basketball teams, the 36ers and the Adelaide Lightning (Women's National Basketball League).
The Adelaide Arena is currently the fifth-largest venue used in the National Basketball League behind the 14,856 seat Perth Arena, the 10,517 seat Sydney Entertainment Centre, the 10,500 seat Hisense Arena in Melbourne, and the 9,300 seat Vector Arena in Auckland. Despite poor performances from Adelaide in recent seasons, the team continues to be near the top in NBL average attendance figures.
The Adelaide 36ers team mascot is Murray the Magpie. The Magpie was chosen as the bird is found throughout Adelaide, while Murray's first name comes from the Murray River, one of South Australia's most well known landmarks. Murray wears the teams No. 36 singlet.
The "36ers Curse" refers to the team's long held inability to win games against teams who are either celebrating a milestone, or creating one.
Some examples of the 36ers Curse include:
- 1993 – Losing 103–105 to new NBL team, the Townsville Suns (now Townsville Crocodiles) at the Clipsal Powerhouse on 25 June. It was the first road win by the Suns.
- 2003 – Losing 110–111 to the New Zealand Breakers in the Breakers first home game at the North Shore Events Centre on 1 October.
- 2003 – Losing 99–103 to new NBL team the Hunter Pirates at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on 29 October in what was the Pirates first NBL win.
- 2006 – Losing 91–97 to new NBL team the Singapore Slingers at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 20 September. It was the first game and the first win for the Slingers.
- Losing 66–96 to the Melbourne Tigers at Hisense Arena on 9 November 2012. Debuting for the Tigers was American import player Jonny Flynn, who was drafted No. 6 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Flynn became the highest NBA draft pick to play in the NBL.
On 16 November 2012, just one week after the loss to Melbourne, the 36ers appeared to have finally broken their curse when they defeated long time rivals the Perth Wildcats 69–65 in front of a record 11,562 fans for the Wildcats opening game at the new A$548.7 million Perth Arena. However, in their very next game the 36ers Curse returned when Adelaide went down 73–75 to the Townsville Crocodiles at the Townsville Entertainment Centre, giving the previously 0–10 Crocs their first win of the 2012–13 NBL season. The loss to Townsville saw the 36ers embark on a club record equalling 8 game losing streak leaving them out of finals contention.
The first half of the 2013–14 NBL season saw the 36ers finally overcome some of their own curse. On 31 October 2013, the 36ers earned their first win over three time defending NBL champions the New Zealand Breakers since 2009 when they defeated them 96–93 at the North Shore Events Centre. Two weeks later the 36ers returned to Auckland and handed the Breakers their first ever loss at the Vector Arena with a 95–94 win. Just one week later the 36ers handed the Perth Wildcats their first loss of the season with a 91–86 win at the Adelaide Arena. And finally, on 31 December 2013, the Adelaide 36ers scored their first win in Townsville since 2003, defeating the Townsville Crocodiles 90–89. The win over the Crocodiles on New Years Eve also coincided with coach Joey Wright's 300th game as an NBL head coach, as well as being centre Luke Schenscher's 31st birthday.
|NBL Championships:||4 (1986, 1998, 1998–99, 2001–02)|
|NBL Finals Appearances:||23 (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2013–14, 2014–15)|
|NBL Grand Final Appearances:||7 (1985, 1986, 1994, 1998, 1998–99, 2001–02, 2013–14)|
|NBL Most Valuable Players:||Mark Davis (1987)|
|NBL Grand Final MVPs:||Mark Davis (1986), Kevin Brooks (1998), Brett Maher (1998–99, 2001–02)|
|NBL All-Star Game MVPs:||Mark Davis (1991), Robert Rose (1995)|
|All-NBL First Team:||Dan Clausen (1984), Al Green (1985), Mark Davis (1987, 1988, 1989, 1991), Robert Rose (1995), Kevin Brooks (1998–99), Darnell Mee (2000–01), Brett Maher (1999–2000, 2002–03, 2005–06), Daniel Johnson (2013–14), Brock Motum (2014–15)|
|NBL Coach of the Year:||Ken Cole (1986)|
|NBL Rookie of the Year:||Mike McKay (1985), Chris Blakemore (1993), Aaron Bruce (2008–09)|
|NBL Most Improved Player:||Mark Bradtke (1989), Scott Ninnis (1993), Chris Blakemore (1994), Daniel Johnson (2011–12)|
|NBL Best Defensive Player:||Darnell Mee (1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01)|
|NBL Best Sixth Man:||None|
|1982||7th (15–11)||–||Mike Osborne||Chris Stirling||not awarded|
|1983||6th (11–11)||–||Mike Osborne||David Winslow||not awarded|
|1984||3rd (16–7)||Elimination-Finalists||Mike Osborne||Dean Kinsman||not awarded|
|1985||2nd (20–6)||Grand-Finalists||Ken Cole||Peter Ali||Mark Davis|
|1986||1st (24–2)||CHAMPIONS||Ken Cole||Bill Jones||Mark Davis**|
|1987||1st (21–5)||Semi-finalists||Gary Fox||Bill Jones||Mark Davis*|
|1988||1st (19–5)||Semi-finalists||Gary Fox||Darryl Pearce
|1989||6th (15–9)||Elimination-Finalists||Gary Fox||Darryl Pearce||Mark Davis|
|1990||9th (11–15)||–||Don Shipway||Mark Davis||Mark Davis|
|1991||4th (16–10)||Semi-finalists||Don Shipway||Mark Davis||Mark Davis|
|1992||9th (11–13)||–||Don Shipway||Mark Davis||Mark Davis|
|1993||7th (14–12)||Quarter-finalists||Don Monson||Mark Davis||Mark Davis|
|1994||4th (18–8)||Grand-Finalists||Mike Dunlap||Mark Davis||Robert Rose|
|1995||4th (17–9)||Semi-finalists||Mike Dunlap||Mark Davis||Robert Rose|
|1996||6th (16–10)||Semi-finalists||Mike Dunlap||Mark Davis||Rick Brunson|
|1997||7th (14–16)||–||Dave Claxton||Brett Maher||Brett Maher|
|1998||2nd (19–11)||CHAMPIONS||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Brett Maher
|1998–99||1st (18–8)||CHAMPIONS||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Kevin Brooks|
|1999–00||1st (22–6)||Semi-finalists||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Martin Cattalini|
|2000–01||6th (16–12)||Semi-finalists||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Darnell Mee|
|2001–02||3rd (17–13)||CHAMPIONS||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Brett Maher**|
|2002–03||5th (16–14)||Elimination-Finalists||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Brett Maher|
|2003–04||8th (14–19)||Elimination-Finalists||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Martin Cattalini|
|2004–05||5th (19–13)||Quarter-finalists||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Willie Farley|
|2005–06||4th (19–13)||Quarter-finalists||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Brett Maher|
|2006–07||11th (11–22)||–||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Brett Maher|
|2007–08||9th (14–16)||–||Phil Smyth||Brett Maher||Adam Ballinger|
|2008–09||6th (15–15)||Elimination-Finalists||Scott Ninnis||Brett Maher||Adam Ballinger|
|2009–10||8th (10–18)||–||Scott Ninnis||Adam Ballinger||Adam Ballinger|
|2010–11||8th (9–19)||–||Marty Clarke||Adam Ballinger||Adam Ballinger|
|2011–12||9th (8–20)||–||Marty Clarke||Adam Ballinger||Daniel Johnson|
|2012–13||8th (8–20)||–||Marty Clarke||Adam Gibson
|2013–14||2nd (18–10)||Grand-Finalists||Joey Wright||Adam Gibson||Daniel Johnson|
|2014–15||3rd (17–11)||Semi-finalists||Joey Wright||Adam Gibson||Jamar Wilson|
* Club and League MVP
** Club and League Grand Final MVP
Source: Adelaide 36ers Year by Year
Club and Player records
- Most points in a game – 48, Darryl Pearce vs Newcastle Falcons at the Newcastle Sports Entertainment Centre, 20 February 1988
- Most 3 pointers in a game – 11, Darryl Pearce vs Newcastle Falcons at the Newcastle Sports Entertainment Centre, 20 February 1988
- Most assists in a game – 17, Butch Hays vs Melbourne Tigers at the Apollo Stadium, 27 September 1991
- Most blocks in a game – 9, Darnell Mee vs Canberra Cannons at the Clipsal Powerhouse, 25 November 2000
- Most steals in a game – 7, Robert Rose vs Newcastle Falcons at the Clipsal Powerhouse, 22 April 1995
- Most rebounds in a game – 31, Dan Clausen vs Canberra Cannons at the AIS Arena, 5 May 1984
- Biggest win – 75 – Adelaide def. Illawarra Hawks 156–81 at the Apollo Stadium, 20 July 1985
- Biggest loss – 48 – Brisbane Bullets def. Adelaide 155–107 at the Brisbane Convention Centre, 19 January 2008
- Biggest home loss – 39 – Melbourne United def. Adelaide 118–79 at the Adelaide Arena, 15 November 2014
- Longest winning streak – 14: 22 June – 10 August 1985
- Longest losing streak – 8: 4 February – 18 March 2011, and 30 November 2012 – 5 January 2013
- Most team points – 160 vs Hobart Devils (127) at the Apollo Stadium, 20 March 1984
All Time Leaders
- Games Played – 526 – Brett Maher (1992–2009)
- Most Points – 8,941 – Brett Maher
- Most Field Goals – 3,140 – Brett Maher
- Most Field Goals Attempted – 7,072 – Brett Maher
- Most Three Pointers – 1,162 – Brett Maher
- Most Three's Attempted – 2,835 – Brett Maher
- Most Free Throws – 2,037 – Mark Davis
- Most Free Throws Attempted – 2,888 – Mark Davis
- Most Rebounds – 5,200 – Mark Davis
- Most Assists – 2,267 – Brett Maher
- Most Steals – 703 – Brett Maher
- Most Blocks – 301 – Mark Davis
- Most Games Coached – 365 – Phil Smyth (1998 – 2007/08)
- Most Wins as Coach – 205 – Phil Smyth
- Most Losses as Coach – 160 – Phil Smyth
- Most Championships as a Player – 3 – Mark Davis, Brett Maher, Paul Rees and Rupert Sapwell
- Most Championships as a Coach – 3 – Phil Smyth
|Adelaide 36ers roster|
|C||Brock Motum||Luke Schenscher|
|PF||Anthony Petrie||Daniel Johnson||Atem Atem||B. J. Anthony|
|SF||Mitch Creek||Peter Crawford||Sam Johns|
|SG||Adam Gibson||Brendan Teys|
|PG||Jamar Wilson||Tom Daly||Nelson Larkins|
The 36ers currently only have two retired numbers. The are the No. 5 which belonged to games record holder Brett Maher and the other is No. 33 which was worn by Mark Davis throughout his NBL/36ers career. Previously the No. 4 of Darryl Pearce, who holds the record for most points in a single game as a 36er when he scored 48 against the Newcastle Falcons in 1988 and the No. 15 of star import guard Al Green who played 136 games for the club between 1985 and 1990 hung high at The Dome in Adelaide but were removed by the team owners. There is gathering support amongst local fans to have both Pearce and Green's numbers re-retired by the 36ers. Green, who holds the NBL's single game scoring record with 71 and Pearce, an Olympian while with the 36ers, were the starting Point and Shooting guards on the 36ers 1986 NBL premiership team.
As of the 2011–12 NBL season the Adelaide 36ers have added the numbers of 1986 NBL Championship players Darryl Pearce (#4), Scott Ninnis (#6), Peter Ali (#8), Mike McKay (#10) and Al Green (#15) to the western wall of the Adelaide Arena.
Famous players and fans
The 36ers have had many famous players in their history with Australian Boomers and/or Olympic Games representatives. Peter Ali, Darryl Pearce, Mark Bradtke, Mark Davis, Mike McKay, Brett Maher, Brett Wheeler, Adam Gibson, Phil Smyth and Brock Motum all having played for the club along with former NBA players Luke Schenscher, Kevin Brooks, Jo Jo English, Rick Brunson, Darnell Mee, Robert Rose and Julius Hodge.
Mark Bradtke and Luke Schenscher have played both for the Boomers and in the NBA.
As of 2013, Brett Maher remains the only player to captain the Boomers while still a player with the 36ers. Maher was given the honour of captaining his country at the 2001 Goodwill Games held in Brisbane.
Famous fans include television presenter Grant Denyer, former world number one tennis player, Adelaide-born Lleyton Hewitt and Philadelphia musician/writer John Sharkey III. Multi award winning Adelaide basketball journalist Boti Nagy is also a long time fan of the club.
1986 NBL Championship Team
The Adelaide 36ers won their first NBL championship in 1986. The team, known as the West End 36ers after sponsorship from the South Australian Brewing Company, had a 24–2 regular season record which included becoming the first team to go through the regular season unbeaten at home with a 13–0 record at the Apollo Stadium. The 36ers defeated the Illawarra Hawks in a one-sided Semi-final before gaining revenge for the 1985 Grand Final loss to the Brisbane Bullets by defeating them in the NBL's first ever three game Grand Final series 2–1.
In 2012 the NBL announced that the 1986 Adelaide 36ers were voted as the greatest single season team in league history.
- Head Coach: Ken Cole
- Assistant Coach: Don Shipway
|PF||Mark Davis||Dwayne Nelson|
|SF||Peter Ali||Peter Sexton|
|SG||Darryl Pearce||Mike McKay||Scott Ninnis|
|PG||Al Green||Ray Wood||David Spear||Mark Sykes|
- Captain – Bill Jones
- Imports – Bill Jones, Mark Davis
- "History". NBL.com.au. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Ten Great Teams in NBL History – #1: 1986 Adelaide 36ers[dead link]
- "NUGGETS: Mike Dunlap". Nba.com. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- Nagy, Boti (29 April 2010). "A lot of fuss – but Sixers not to blame". The Advertiser (adelaidenow.com.au). Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- Emmerson, Russell (29 January 2013). "Adelaide court declares former ABC founder Eddy Groves bankrupt". The Advertiser (theaustralian.com.au). Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- "NBL chairman buys Adelaide 36ers". The Sydney Morning Herald (smh.com.au). 25 July 2006. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- Bednall, Jai (13 January 2013). "Adelaide 36ers are in trouble with poor NBL performance and uncertainty over its ownership and arena". News.com.au. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- "Murray the Magpie –". Facebook.com. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- Adelaide 36ers official website
- National Basketball League official website
- Basketball South Australia official website