Brisbane Bullets

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Brisbane Bullets
Brisbane Bullets logo.svg
Leagues NBL
Founded 1979
Dissolved 2008
Arena
capacity
4,000
Location Brisbane, Queensland
Championships 1985, 1987, 2007

The Brisbane Bullets are a former professional basketball team that competed in the Australian National Basketball League. The Bullets were one of only two teams that survived since the NBL's inception in 1979; the only surviving team is now the Wollongong Hawks. The team played in Midnight Navy and Maize colours during the late 1990s and early 2000s before switching back to the traditional royal blue, white and yellow uniforms.

The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre was the home court for the Brisbane Bullets from 1998–2008. When the NBL first started the team was based at the Auchenflower Stadium and remained there until 1985 when they started playing at the larger Sleeman Sports Centre during the 1985 season. The Bullets remained at Chandler until they moved into the 13,500 seat Brisbane Entertainment Centre midway through 1986, staying at Boondall until the end of the 1997 season. From 1986 until the South East Melbourne Magic and Melbourne Tigers started using the 14,820 seat National Tennis Centre (now Rod Laver Arena) in 1992, the BEC was the largest venue used in the NBL.

The Bullets won three NBL championships in their history, being successful in the 1985 and 1987 seasons and again in 2007, as well as having competed in the 1984, 1986 and 1990 grand finals. The team reached the play-offs 21 times in their illustrious 30 year history.[1]

On 30 June 2008, it was announced that the Bullets license had been returned to the NBL, following financial difficulties for the owner, Eddy Groves and the failure of attempts to find a new ownership group.

On 23 August 2011, Basketball Australia CEO Larry Sengstock told ABC radio's Spencer Howson that the success of the Boomers upcoming game against New Zealand in Brisbane was important to the bid to revive an NBL team in the Queensland capital.

Sengstock told Howson that fan support for the Boomers Olympic qualification game against the New Zealand Tall Blacks on Friday 9 September at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre would be an important barometer for those looking to relaunch the Brisbane Bullets.

For the 2014–15 season, the NBL hopes for the return of a Brisbane-based franchise, bringing up the possibility of a Bullets resurrection.[2]

History[edit]

The Bullets were established in 1979 for the foundation season of the National Basketball League, under the captaincy of Bruce Fitzgerald, and head coach Bob Young. Of the 18 games played during the inaugural NBL season, Brisbane won 13 and lost five, finishing in fifth place. Brisbane's Calvin Bruton finished as the league's highest points per game scorer of the season.

The Bullets made it to the finals in the second NBL season of 1980. Dave Claxton took over as head-coach as well. Finishing in third place, winning 17 of their 22 season games, the Bullets met the West Adelaide Bearcats in the second semi-final, losing 94-101. Brian Banks made the NBL First Team that season.

Brian Banks became the Bullets' captain the following season. After making the finals in the second season, Brisbane did so again in 1981. Brisbane finished in fifth place, but first-placed St. Kilda did not attend the finals, as they were in Brazil contesting the World Club Championship. The Bullets lost to Launceston Casino City 71-69 in the first semi-final. In 1982, with new coach Rick Harden, the Bullets missed out on qualifying for the finals, finishing eighth. In the following season, they finished fifth, still outside of finals contention. Import guard Ron "The Rat" Radliff, known for his long curly hair and brilliant outside shooting played his first season for the Bullets and in the NBL in 1983.

Under new coach Brian Kerle, who would go on to win the 1984 Coach of the Year award, the Bullets' first playoffs appearance since 1981 came about after finishing the 1984 regular season in 1st place with a 19-5 record, a major improvement on their 10-12 record in 1983. After defeating the Coburg Giants and the Geelong Supercats in the finals, the team were into their first ever grand final with the game to be played at The Glasshouse in Melbourne. Unfortunately they were not successful in capturing their first championship losing to the defending champion Canberra Cannons 14-82. Star import Leroy Loggins capped off a great season with the Bullets by winning the leagues Most Valuable Player award.

The Bullets had emerged as the league's most powerful team under Brian Kerle and again finished in first place the 1985 season with a 20-6 record and were again grand finalists after a hard fought win over the Cannons in the finals. With the game being held at their home venue (Chandler Arena), the Bullets were hot favourites to defeat the Adelaide 36ers in what was to be the last single game grand final in NBL history. Leading 78-74 going into the last period of play the Bullets then outscored Adelaide 42-21, setting an NBL grand final record for points scored in the final period and easily accounting for the 36ers 120-95 to record their first ever championship win.

The team's major change during the 1986 season was when they moved out of the 2,700 seat Chandler Arena and into the brand new Brisbane Entertainment Centre which could seat up to 13,500 fans, giving the Bullets the largest and newest home arena in the NBL at the time. They finished the regular season in 3rd place with a 17-8 record but progressed to their 3rd grand final in a row with wins over the Sydney Supersonics and regular finals opponent Canberra in the playoffs. In the first ever NBL grand final series to be played over three games, the Bullets would go down to the Adelaide 36ers 2-1, losing game 3 of the series 113-91 in Adelaide. In the opening game over 11,000 fans saw the 36ers defeat the Bullets 122-119 in overtime at the Entertainment Centre, while they became the only team to defeat the 36ers in Adelaide in 1986 when they won game 2 104-83 at the Apollo Stadium. Leroy Loggins was again voted the leagues MVP in 1986 giving himself and Brisbane a second MVP title. Crucially though, Loggins fouled out of both game 1 and 3 of the Grand Final series which limited his on court impact.

1987 saw the Bullets back to second on the ladder with a 20-6 season, earning themselves a bye in the playoffs until the semi finals. There they defeated the Illawarra Hawks two games to one to advance to a league record 4th grand final in a row where this time they were up against the Perth Wildcats in their first ever grand final series. Perth were player/coached by former Bullets favourite Cal Bruton, who had left the club at the end of 1986 after a public falling out with Brian Kerle. Bruton had successfully turned the Wildcats into a championship contender with the addition of forwards Kendall "Tiny" Pinder and the "Alabama Slamma" James Crawford. The Bullets won their second NBL championship, winning the first game 80-79 in a thriller in Brisbane, before taking out game 2 106-87 at the Claremont Superdome in Perth. Leroy Loggins continued to star for the Bullets and in 1987 he won his third MVP award (shared with Adelaide's Mark Davis), as well as being voted as the Grand Final MVP for the series win over the Wildcats.

The Bullets finished the 1988 regular season in third place with an 18-6 record but they would not reach their 5th grand final in a row after losing in the elimination final. A highlight of the 1988 season for the Bullets was first year player Shane Heal winning the NBL's Rookie of the Year award. The 1989 season saw the team fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 1983 when they finished the regular season in 8th place with an 11-13 record. In the wake of this disappointing season, the Bullets' line-up was extensively overhauled: Leroy Loggins, Greg Fox, and Robert Sibley were the only players from the 1989 Bullets team to continue with the club for the 1990 season, while both Larry Sengstock and Ron Radliff left to join the NBL's second Queensland-based team, the Gold Coast Cougars, for its inaugural season in 1990.

Boosted by new imports Derek Rucker and Andre Moore, the Bullets made a huge turn around in 1990, finishing in third place and going 18-8 for the season. They would again win their way into the grand final, again playing the Perth Wildcats. This time however the Bullets went down 2-1, losing game three at home 109-86. Game two of the series, with the Bullets levelling at one game all with a 106-90 win saw a then NBL grand final record crowd of 13,221 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. This would stand the highest ever grand final crowd for a game played outside of Melbourne until 13,527 saw game 2 of the 2012-13 Grand Final series between the Wildcats and New Zealand Breakers at the Perth Arena. The attendance remains the and the 8th largest for an NBL Grand Final game. Brian Kerle won his second Coach of the Year award, while new import guard Derek Rucker became the second Bullets player to win the NBL's MVP award.

The 1991 season was not nearly as successful, as the team finished in ninth place, way out of finals contention with a 13-13 record. However, in 1992, the Bullets were back in the finals, making it to the quarter-finals. In 1993, former NBL Coach of the Year (1988) and championship winning coach of the North Melbourne Giants (1989) Bruce Palmer became the new Bullets coach, and the team made it as far as the semi-finals.

From 1994 through to the 1996 seasons, the Bullets made it as far as the quarter-finals, finishing in fifth, sixth and eighth place respectively. David Ingham took over as head coach for the 1996 and 1997 seasons, with Brian Kerle returning to the club to coach the Bullets from 1998 to 2000. During this time, the high cost of playing home games at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre (along with falling attendances) forced the Bullets to move to the smaller (4,000) capacity Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre from the 1998 season.

The Bullets failed to get to the finals during the early years of the 2000s. The 2001-02 season was especially disappointing for the Bullets, as they finished second-last on the regular season table, winning just 4 of their 28 fixtures. Although, the Bullets won 22 of their 33 fixtures in 2003-04 to finish in a more respectable fourth place on the ladder.

The team qualified for the finals in the 2004-05 and the 2005-06 seasons. They finished in fifth place in 2005-06, just missing out on a quarter-final place. They hosted the Perth Wildcats at home in game one, though they lost 96-91 and were eliminated.

During the 2006-07 pre-season Blitz, the Bullets won all three of their group stage games to finish at the top of Pool A and advance to the quarter-finals. Defeating the Wollongong Hawks and the Sydney Kings to make it into the final, the Bullets went on to defeat the Melbourne Tigers to win the pre-season title.

Following on from their pre-season success, the Bullets easily won the minor premiership for the 2006-07 season, claiming an end of season record of 28 wins and only 5 losses. This included an all-time NBL record-breaking 21-game winning streak, marking the Bullets' most successful season since 1979. After defeating the Sydney Kings in the semis, Brisbane made their first NBL grand final since 1990. They took out the finals series 3-1 over defending champions the Melbourne Tigers to be crowned NBL champions for the third and last time. Due to a conflict in scheduling, the grand final games in Brisbane were played at the Bullets former home, the Entertainment Centre, instead of their regular home at the Convention Centre.

In March 2008, the Bullets' childcare-centre mogul owner Eddy Groves - who had run into financial strife with his ABC Learning Centres empire - announced he would be forced to sell the club. On 16 April 2008, Logan businessman David Kemp was officially announced as the new owner. However, Kemp pulled out of the sale, and attempts to find a new ownership group were unsuccessful. On 30 June 2008, it was announced that the Bullets' license had been returned to the NBL. They have not played in the NBL since.[3]

Hope for Revival[edit]

On 23 August 2011, Basketball Australia CEO Larry Sengstock told ABC radio's Spencer Howson that the success of the Boomers upcoming game against New Zealand in Brisbane was important to the bid to revive an NBL team in the Queensland capital.

Sengstock told Howson that fan support for the Boomers Olympic qualification game against the New Zealand Tall Blacks on Friday 9 September at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre would be an important barometer for those looking to relaunch the Brisbane Bullets.

The BA CEO also said that there had been significant progress towards returning a team to Brisbane for the 2012/13 season and that he wanted the team to be called the Bullets. [4]

However, in May 2012, the NBL announced that the Bullets' return was rejected, on the heels of another Queensland-based team, the Gold Coast Blaze, going into administration.[5]

In November 2013 with the NBL under new management, CEO Fraser Neill announced that bringing the Bullets back to Brisbane was a priority. [6] In March 2014, the #BringBackTheBullets social media campaign across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram commenced with an aim to raise awareness for the return of professional basketball to Brisbane as soon as possible.

Retired Jerseys[edit]

Honour roll[edit]

NBL Championships: 3 (1985, 1987, 2007)
NBL Finals Appearances: 21 (1980, 1981, 1984–88, 1990, 1992–99, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08)
NBL Grand Final appearances: 6 (1984–87, 1990, 2007)
NBL Most Valuable Players: Leroy Loggins (1984, 1986–87), Derek Rucker (1990), Steve Woodberry (1999), Sam Mackinnon (2007)
NBL Grand Final MVPs: Leroy Loggins (1987); Sam Mackinnon (2007)
All-NBL First Team: Brian Banks (1980), Larry Sengstock (1982), Leroy Loggins (1984–88, 1990, 1993–94), Derek Rucker (1990), Steve Woodberry (1999), Stephen Black (2004), Sam Mackinnon (2007), Ebi Ere (2008)
NBL Coach of the Year: Brian Kerle (1984, 1990), Joey Wright (2004, 2007)
NBL Rookie of the Year: Shane Heal (1988), John Rillie (1995)
NBL Most Improved Player: Wade Helliwell (2002)
NBL Best Defensive Player: Leroy Loggins (1987, 1990), Ben Castle (2004), Sam Mackinnon (2007)
NBL Best Sixth Man: Mike McKay (1996)

Source: www.nbl.com.au

Season-by-Season[edit]

Season Results Finals Coach Captain
1979 5th (10-8) - Bob Young Bruce Fitzgerald
1980 3rd (15-7) Lost semi-final Dave Claxton Bruce Fitzgerald
1981 5th (13-9) Lost semi-final Dave Claxton Brian Banks
1982 8th (12-14) - Rick Harden Brian Banks/Larry Sengstock
1983 5th (10-12) - Rick Harden Larry Sengstock
1984 1st (19-5) Lost Grand Final Brian Kerle Larry Sengstock
1985 1st (20-6) Champions Brian Kerle Larry Sengstock
1986 3rd (17-9) Lost Grand Final Brian Kerle Larry Sengstock
1987 2nd (20-6) Champions Brian Kerle Larry Sengstock
1988 3rd (18-6) Lost elimination final Brian Kerle Larry Sengstock
1989 8th (11-13) - Brian Kerle Larry Sengstock
1990 3rd (18-8) Lost Grand Final Brian Kerle Leroy Loggins
1991 9th (13-13) - Brian Kerle Leroy Loggins
1992 7th (12-12) Lost quarter-final Brian Kerle Leroy Loggins
1993 4th (16-10) Lost semi-final Bruce Palmer Leroy Loggins
1994 5th (18-8) Lost quarter-final Bruce Palmer Leroy Loggins
1995 6th (16-10) Lost quarter-final Bruce Palmer Leroy Loggins
1996 8th (14-12) Lost quarter-final Dave Ingham Leroy Loggins
1997 5th (15-15) Lost elimination final Dave Ingham Leroy Loggins
1998 4th (16-14) Lost semi-final Brian Kerle Leroy Loggins
1998-99 5th (13-13) Lost elimination final Brian Kerle Leroy Loggins
1999-00 10th (7-21) - Brian Kerle Leroy Loggins
2000–01 10th (4-24) - Richard Orlick Leroy Loggins
2001–02 7th (14-16) - Richard Orlick Simon Kerle
2002–03 11th (6-24) - Richard Orlick/Joey Wright Simon Kerle
2003–04 4th (22-11) Lost semi-final Joey Wright Derek Rucker
2004–05 5th (17-5) Lost semi-final Joey Wright Derek Rucker
2005–06 6th (17-15) Lost elimination final Joey Wright Derek Rucker
2006–07 1st (28-5) Champions Joey Wright Sam Mackinnon
2007–08 3rd (21-12) Lost semi-final Joey Wright Sam Mackinnon

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Brisbane Bullets v NZ Breakers". bcec.com.au. 14 September 2005. Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2006. 
  2. ^ Brisbane to have NBL team from next year
  3. ^ "Bullets give up on NBL survival". Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Abc.net.au). 30 July 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "National Basketball League: Brisbane Boomers game vital to Bullets bid: Sengstock". NBL.com.au. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Morton, Jim; Heming, Wayne (10 May 2012). "NBL's Blaze up in smoke". brisbanetimes.com.au. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Nagy, Boti (13 November 2013). "New NBL chief sees a future tied with the NBA, more clubs and a bigger TV presence". heraldsun.com.au. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 

External links[edit]