|2013–14 Perth Wildcats season|
|Founded||1982 as Westate Wildcats|
Perth, Western Australia
|Head Coach||Trevor Gleeson|
|Championships||5 (1990, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2010)|
The Perth Wildcats are an Australian men's professional basketball team competing in the National Basketball League (NBL). The Wildcats are the only team in the league representing the state of Western Australia and are based in the state capital, Perth. The team plays its home games at the Perth Arena in Perth, known colloquially as "The Jungle". They are the highest-drawing and most successful club in the league, having achieved five championships (moving ahead of the four championships won by the Adelaide 36ers and the Melbourne Tigers).
Since 1987 the Perth Wildcats have appeared in all 27 NBL finals, including playing in the 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999–2000, 2002–03, 2009–10, 2011–12 and 2012–13 Grand Finals, an accomplishment matched by no other professional sports club in Australia. The Wildcats won the NBL championship in 1990, 1991, 1995, 2000 and 2010.
Formed in 1982 as the Westate Wildcats, the Wildcats became the first, and so far only, Western Australian club to compete in the NBL. The club was initially captained by Mike Ellis and comprised members of the Western Australian state team and several import players. In these early years the Wildcats played at Perry Lakes Stadium and struggled to make an impact on the league. In 1984 the Wildcats changed their name to the Perth Wildcats and in 1987 moved from Perry Lakes to the 5,000 seat Superdrome (now known as Challenge Stadium).
After signing a number of star players (including Cal Bruton, Tiny Pinder and James Crawford), the Wildcats not only made their first playoff appearance in 1987, but attained a Grand Final berth. Unfortunately for the Wildcats they lost this Grand Final series to the Brisbane Bullets. Despite this loss the 1987 season marked the beginning of 27 straight years of playoff appearances that still runs to this day.
The following years were not as successful on or off the court for the Wildcats. Significantly, the club was forced to deal with the shocking death of player Scott Fenton and his fiancée in a car accident during the 1989 season. In his memory, Scott Fenton’s jersey (number 14) became the first to be retired by the club.
A new decade saw the Wildcats move once again, now to the 8,200 seat Perth Entertainment Centre. The 1990 season also began with turmoil as coach Alan Black was controversially fired after only two games. Despite this shaky start to the season the Wildcats charged into the Grand Final and achieved their first NBL championship by defeating the Brisbane Bullets in Brisbane. The Wildcats backed up this effort in 1991 by becoming the third team in NBL history to win back-to-back championships, defeating the Eastside Spectres in front of a home crowd.
The Wildcats were destined for more turmoil in 1992: they were unable to secure a hat-trick of championships, they lost player Kendall (Tiny) Pinder in very controversial circumstances, and captain Mike Ellis retired at the end of the season. Andrew Vlahov became captain of the club in 1993 and the Wildcats competed in another Grand Final campaign. This time however the Wildcats were defeated in a tough battle with the Melbourne Tigers, who claimed their first NBL championship. The Wildcats lost by two points. The television broadcast of the game incorrectly displayed the final score as a one-point loss.
The 1994 season was lacklustre, with sixteen wins and ten losses in the regular season and elimination 2-0 in the quarter-finals by the South-East Melbourne Magic. By contrast 1995 saw the Wildcats sitting on top of the table and eventually blitzing the North Melbourne Giants in game three of the series. The Wildcats' third championship also allowed the club to travel to the McDonald's Championship in London to play against the best clubs in the world. The Wildcats lost against the Houston Rockets from the NBA 116 - 72 in their first game of the tournament, but defeated Real Madrid 93 - 86 in their second game.
The 1997 season became the testimonial season for James Crawford who was expected to retire at the end of that season. The Wildcats hosted an exhibition match against James Crawford’s all-star team, which featured many NBL stars both current and retired. Although 1997 had been touted as Crawford’s retirement year, he continued to play until injury forced him out during the 1998/99 season.
Andrew Vlahov and Luc Longley purchased the Wildcats from businessman Kerry Stokes for the 1999/2000 season. The season itself was very successful for the Wildcats as they claimed their fourth championship against the Victoria Titans, becoming the first team in NBL history to do so. To top off the stellar season, centre Paul Rogers became the first Wildcat to win the Most Valuable Player award.
The end of the 2001/02 season saw the Wildcats leave the Perth Entertainment Centre for a return to their old home the Superdrome (now Challenge Stadium). Till then, Perth had avoided the league's fall in attendance, thanks to the team's performances and the popular central CBD location of the arena, but the Perth Entertainment Centre was no longer viable for its owner Kerry Stokes as basketball was not the primary tenant, and he was forced to close the venue and relocate the team back to their former and unpopular suburban-based arena.
Ricky Grace became captain of the club in 2002/03 when Andrew Vlahov retired from the league. The season saw the Wildcats head to their seventh Grand Final, where unfortunately for the Wildcats they were defeated by the Sydney Kings in their first championship. More controversy followed as coach Alan Black was fired for the second time by the club.
Mike Ellis became coach for the following season, but his tenure was short, being replaced the following season by Scott Fisher. The 2004/05 season saw the end of an era as captain Ricky Grace played his last game of his career with the club. Grace was the only remaining member of all the Wildcats' championships and had been an integral part of the club for 15 years. In order to celebrate his career with the Wildcats a legends match was held featuring many retired Wildcats stars (including Bruton, Crawford, Ellis, Vlahov and Fisher), current and retired NBL stars (including Leroy Loggins, Andrew Gaze, Mark Davis and Phil Smyth).
With Grace retired, veteran player Tony Ronaldson became captain of the Wildcats in 2005/06, but was relieved of his captaincy after only one season. Future Wildcats captain and multiple club MVP award winner Shawn Redhage also first suited up for the Wildcats in 2005.
The Wildcats were instrumental in the NBL's push towards promoting the league in the lucrative Asian market during this period. Not only have Wildcats games been telecast to millions of potential viewers in Southeast Asia, the Wildcats have hosted several regular season games in Singapore in an event known as the "Singapore Spectacular.". The Singapore experiment culminated in the entry of the first Asian team into the NBL - the Singapore Slingers - in the 2006/2007 season. The "Singapore Spectacular" has not been held since.
In February 2006, West Australian Jack Bendat became the Chairman and majority shareholder of the club. Although no longer the majority shareholder, Andrew Vlahov remained in control of the club as the Managing Director.
In August 2006, Paul Rogers became the fifth player to captain the Wildcats. Rogers replaced Tony Ronaldson as captain for 2006/07, despite Ronaldson continuing to play for the club. The Wildcats celebrated their 25th anniversary during the 2006/07 NBL season and recorded their highest number of wins in a single season (23 wins), although historically they have recorded better win-loss ratios. The 2007 season came to an end when the Wildcats were defeated by the Cairns Taipans 82-78 in the quarter finals.
The Wildcats continued to appear in the playoffs throughout the late 2000s, but failed to progress beyond the semi final round. Following the 2007/08 season, Head coach Scott Fisher departed the Wildcats in March 2008 to return to the United States for personal reasons. He was eventually replaced by his assistant Connor Henry, whose tenure at the Wildcats lasted only one season.
Prior to the 2009/10 season, Henry was replaced by former Sydney Spirit head coach Rob Beveridge. The new head coach was instrumental in recruiting a wave of new talent for the Wildcats, including Australian Boomer Damian Martin and former Chicago Bulls centre Luke Schenscher. Former Cairns Taipans, and 1995 Wildcats championship squad member, Martin Cattalini also signed for the Wildcats in what would be his final NBL season. Redhage became the next Wildcats captain, taking over from the injury plagued Paul Rogers.
The Wildcats finished the 2009/10 regular season at first place on the ladder. During the finals, the Wildcats managed a clean-sweep in two matches against the Gold Coast Blaze, lead by former Wildcat James Harvey, to progress to the grand final series against the Wollongong Hawks. The series went to three matches were the Wildcats stormed home in Game 3 on the back of the Grand Final MVP performance by Kevin Lisch.
Retirements to Cattalini and Rogers followed the championship win, while Brad Robbins was elevated to co-captain with Redhage. The Wildcats title defence in 2010/11 suffered numerous setbacks as the season progressed including prolonged injuries to key players Matthew Knight and Jesse Wagstaff, and a season-ending injury to co-captain Shawn Redhage (who had not missed a match since joining the Wildcats). American Import Andre Brown and Sudanese Australian Ater Majok were signed to help the Wildcats with their loss of their big men.
Despite injury setbacks throughout the year, the Wildcats finished the 2010/11 regular season with a 16-12 win/loss record, finishing fourth. Their active playoff streak therefore stretched to 25 consecutive years.
Drawn to play minor premiers New Zealand Breakers in the first round of the playoffs, the Wildcats scored an upset victory in Game 1 in Auckland, winning 101-78.
Game two in Perth was a tight affair that saw the Breakers level the series 1-1 with a 93-89 win before the Wildcats were knocked out of the championship race with an 83-99 loss in Game 3.
- #6 Mike Ellis
- #7 James Crawford
- #14 Scott Fenton (deceased)
- #15 Ricky Grace
- #21 Andrew Vlahov
- #30 Scott Fisher
Source: Perth Wildcats Achievements
From their first five seasons, the Wildcats played at the then home of Western Australian basketball, the Perry Lakes Indoor Stadium. From 1987-1990 the team played out of the 4,500 seat Claremont Superdrome (later known as Challenge Stadium). In 1990, with NBL attendances on the rise, The Wildcats moved into the 8,200 seat Perth Entertainment Centre where they regularly played in front of sold out crowds. The team had their greatest success at the PEC, winning their first four NBL Championships while playing there.
When the Entertainment Centre closed in 2002, the Wildcats were forced to move back to Challenge Stadium where they would remain until 2012, though they did play one game against the Melbourne Tigers at the Burswood Dome in 2004 which drew a then WA record basketball attendance of 8,501.
Following the opening of the A$548.7 million, 14,846 seat Perth Arena in November 2012, The Wildcats again left Challenge and moved into the more modern and larger arena, a move that has proved fruitful for the club as their average attendances have been over 10,000, the largest in the NBL. The record attendance for basketball in Western Australia was set during the 2012-13 NBL Grand Final series when 13,527 saw Game 2 between the Wildcats and the New Zealand Breakers. This also broke the record attendance for an NBL game played outside of Sydney (Sydney Superdome) or Melbourne (Rod Laver Arena). The previous record was 13,221 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre for game 2 of the 1990 Grand Final between the Wildcats and Brisbane Bullets.
The 14,846 seat Perth Arena is the largest and newest venue currently in use in the NBL. The next largest being the Sydney Entertainment Centre which can seat 10,517 for Sydney Kings home games.
The Perth Wildcats home venue list is as follows:
- Perry Lakes Indoor Stadium - 1982-1986
- Claremont Superdrome - 1987-1990
- Perth Entertainment Centre - 1990-2002
- Challenge Stadium - 2002-2012
- Burswood Dome - 2004 (1 game)
- Perth Arena - 2012–present
|NBL Championships:||5 (1990, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2010)|
|NBL Finals Appearances:||1987–present|
|NBL Grand Final appearances:||10 (1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2010, 2012, 2013)|
|NBL Most Valuable Players:||Paul Rogers (2000), Kevin Lisch (2012)|
|NBL Grand Final MVPs:||Ricky Grace (1990), Pete Hanson (1991), Ricky Grace (1993), Andrew Vlahov (1995), Marcus Timmons (2000), Kevin Lisch (2010)|
|All-NBL First Team:||James Crawford (1987), Ricky Grace (1991, 2001–03), Andrew Vlahov (1992, 1995), Paul Rogers (2000, 2002), Shawn Redhage (2008, 2010), Damian Martin (2011), Kevin Lisch (2012, 2013), Matthew Knight (2013)|
|NBL Coach of the Year:||Murray Arnold (1991)|
|NBL Rookie of the Year:||Andrew Vlahov (1991), Jesse Wagstaff (2010)|
|NBL Most Improved Player:||James Harvey (2001), Matt Burston (2003), Peter Crawford (2005)|
|NBL Best Defensive Player:||Damian Martin (2011, 2012, 2013)|
|NBL Best Sixth Man:||Stephen Black (2003), Jesse Wagstaff (2012)|
Source: www.NBL.com.au/Wildcats (note: where seasons span two years the ending year of season is shown)
|1982||10th (10-16)||-||Henry Daigle||Mike Ellis||Tim Evans|
|1983||12th (6-16)||-||Gordon Ellis||Mike Ellis||Mike Ellis|
|1984||16th (3-20)||-||Lynn Massey||Mike Ellis||Mike Ellis|
|1985||8th (13-13)||-||Jay Brehmer||Mike Ellis||Dan Clausen|
|1986||12th (8-18)||-||Jay Brehmer||Mike Ellis||Mike Ellis|
|1987||4th (19-7)||Grand-Finalists||Cal Bruton||Mike Ellis||James Crawford|
|1988||6th (13-11)||Semi-Finalists||Cal Bruton||Mike Ellis||James Crawford|
|1989||3rd (16-8)||Semi-Finalists||Alan Black||Mike Ellis||Tiny Pinder|
|1990||5th (17-9)||CHAMPIONS||Alan Black
|Mike Ellis||James Crawford|
|1991||1st (22-4)||CHAMPIONS||Murray Arnold||Mike Ellis||Ricky Grace|
|1992||6th (12-12)||Quarter-Finalists||Murray Arnold||Mike Ellis||James Crawford|
|1993||1st (21-5)||Grand-Finalists||Adrian Hurley||Andrew Vlahov||Scott Fisher|
|1994||6th (16-10)||Quarter-Finalists||Adrian Hurley||Andrew Vlahov||Scott Fisher|
|1995||1st (19-7)||CHAMPIONS||Adrian Hurley||Andrew Vlahov||Andrew Vlahov|
|1996||3rd (16-10)||Quarter-Finalists||Adrian Hurley||Andrew Vlahov||Andrew Vlahov|
|1997||4th (17-13)||Semi-Finalists||Adrian Hurley||Andrew Vlahov||Ricky Grace|
|1998||3rd (17-13)||Semi-Finalists||Alan Black||Andrew Vlahov||Ricky Grace|
|1998–99||6th (13-13)||Elimination-Finalists||Alan Black||Andrew Vlahov||Ricky Grace|
|1999–2000||3rd (22-6)||CHAMPIONS||Alan Black||Andrew Vlahov||Paul Rogers|
|2000–01||3rd (21-7)||Elimination-Finalists||Alan Black||Andrew Vlahov||Ricky Grace|
|2001–02||2nd (17-13)||Elimination-Finalists||Alan Black||Andrew Vlahov||Ricky Grace|
|2002–03||2nd (22-8)||Grand-Finalists||Alan Black||Ricky Grace||Rob Feaster|
|2003–04||7th (15-18)||Quarter-Finalists||Mike Ellis||Ricky Grace||Rashad Tucker|
|2004–05||7th (15-17)||Quarter-Finalists||Scott Fisher||Ricky Grace||Rosell Ellis|
|2005–06||7th (16-16)||Semi-Finalists||Scott Fisher||Tony Ronaldson||Shawn Redhage|
|2006–07||3rd (23-10)||Quarter-Finalists||Scott Fisher||Paul Rogers||Shawn Redhage|
|2007–08||4th (18-12)||Semi-Finalists||Scott Fisher||Paul Rogers||Shawn Redhage|
|2008–09||4th (17-13)||Elimination-Finalists||Conner Henry||Paul Rogers||Shawn Redhage|
|2009–10||1st (17-11)||CHAMPIONS||Rob Beveridge||Shawn Redhage||Shawn Redhage|
|2010–11||4th (16-12)||Semi-Finalists||Rob Beveridge||Shawn Redhage
|2011–12||2nd (19-9)||Grand-Finalists||Rob Beveridge||Shawn Redhage
|2012–13||2nd (22-6)||Grand-Finalists||Rob Beveridge||Shawn Redhage
Source: Perth Wildcats Year By Year
The Perth Wildcats' run of 27 straight playoff appearances is unmatched in major Australian professional sports and betters all the major American sports as well aside from two National Hockey League clubs.
The Wildcats' performance of making 27 straight NBL playoff appearances began right back in 1987. The Wildcats entered the NBL five years prior in 1982 and did not qualify for the post-season in the first five years, but come 1987 one of the best streaks in world professional sport began.
The first three years of playoffs action included a losing grand final series in 1987, but then the team featuring Ricky Grace, James Crawford and Mike Ellis, plus other legends of Australian basketball and coached by Alan Black/Cal Bruton, won the title in 1990 and repeated in 1991 coached by former NBA assistant Murray Arnold.
It took three more years for the club's third NBL title and that included losing the 1993 grand final series to the Melbourne Tigers. That next championship came in 1995 with Adrian Hurley coach, and Andrew Vlahov captain and MVP.
Four more years elapsed before the next championship came in the 1999/2000 season. Black had returned as coach and with Paul Rogers dominating as centre, and veterans Vlahov, Grace and Scott Fisher still around the Wildcats won their fourth title.
In the years in between the Wildcats still made the playoffs each season and even lost the grand final series to the Sydney Kings in 2003, but then in 2009/10, the Wildcats became the undisputed greatest NBL franchise with a fifth championship.
Now this season the Wildcats have again qualified for the playoffs for an amazing 27th straight appearance that is unprecedented in all of Australian sport, and almost unmatched in major world professional sporting leagues.
The most consecutive finals reached in VFL/AFL football is 13 by Hawthorn Hawks between 1982-94 while the NRL's St. George Illawarra Dragons came close with 23 between 1951-73. Super Rugby franchise the Crusaders from Canterbury, New Zealand, have made the semi-finals for the last 10 straight years.
In American sport, the Philadelphia 76ers (as the Syracuse Nationals) made the NBA playoffs 22 straight seasons between 1949/50-70/71 in what is the best run in the strongest basketball league in the world.
The only major professional league in the United States that has a better streak than the Perth Wildcats' 27 is in the NHL, with the Boston Bruins (1967/68-95/96) making it 29 consecutive times. The Chicago Blackhawks also had a run of 28 straight appearances.
|Perth Wildcats roster|
|C||Tom Jervis||Matthew Knight||Michael Vigor|
|PF||Shawn Redhage||Jesse Wagstaff||Louis Timms|
|SF||James Ennis||Greg Hire|
|SG||Jermaine Beal||Drake U'u||Damien Scott||Mathiang Muo|
|PG||Damian Martin||Erik Burdon|
30th Anniversary All-Star Team
On 4 February 2013, the Perth Wildcats announced their best team from the first three decades of the club at their 30th Anniversary Breakfast. The team was picked by 1995 championship coach Dr Adrian Hurley, The West Australian’s online sports editor Ross Lewis, and long-time basketball broadcaster John Gardiner.
|C||James Crawford||Paul Rogers|
|PF||Scott Fisher||Kendal Pinder|
|SF||Andrew Vlahov||Shawn Redhage|
|SG||Kevin Lisch||James Harvey|
|PG||Ricky Grace||Mike Ellis|
- "Wildcats tab Ellis as new coach". NBL Media. 2003. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- "'Cats like Fish". Perth Wildcats. 2004. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- Levinson, Barry (2005). "Tigers end an Amazing career". Sportal. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- "Stars honour Grace". Perth Wildcats. 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
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- "Wildcats Jam into Asia". NBL. 2003. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- "Kings of the world". NBL. 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- Bousfield, Andrew (2005). "Wildcats whip Bullets". NBL. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- "Singapore Slingers pull out of NBL". Sydney Morning Herald. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-01.
- Chadwick, Justin (2006). "New chairman for Wildcats". Sportal. Retrieved 2006-02-22.
- "Rogers the new skipper". Perth Wildcats. 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
- "History starts here". Perth Wildcats. 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- Chadwick, Justin (2006). "Taipans upset Wildcats". Sportal. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- "'Cats launch season with Beveridge signing". Perth Wildcats. 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
- "Lisch fires 'Cats to Grand Final". Sportal. 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
- Pike, Chris (2010). "'Cats win fifth championship". Sportal. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
- "Perth Wildcats centre Paul Rogers announces retirement, ends glittering career". PerthNow. 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
- 30th Anniversary All-Star Team