|History||West Sydney Razorbacks
|Arena||State Sports Centre|
|Location||Sydney, New South Wales|
The Sydney Spirit (formerly the West Sydney Razorbacks) were an Australian professional basketball team competing in the Australasian National Basketball League. The club was based in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
They were the second team to represent Sydney's west in the NBL, several years after the Fosters (West Sydney) Westars were largely absorbed in a merger with the Sydney Supersonics to form the Sydney Kings. After the demise of the Sydney Kings in 2008, the Razorbacks rebranded themselves as the Sydney Spirit to appeal to the greater Sydney community, as they were the sole remaining Sydney-based NBL team prior to the rebirth of the Kings in 2010. The Spirit folded in 2009.
As the West Sydney Razorbacks
The Razorbacks were formed in 1992 as the West Sydney Slammers in the Continental Basketball Association, and were granted a National Basketball League licence in 1997. The Razorbacks, played their first game in the NBL on 10 October 1998 defeating the Kings 103-97. They qualified for the NBL play-offs in their second season - 1999–2000. Since season 2000–01 the Razorbacks’ home venue has been the 5,006 seat State Sports Centre in Homebush. Prior to that their home was the Whitlam Centre in Liverpool.
The Razorbacks made history in season 2001–02 becoming the first Sydney team in the NBL's 24 year history to contest the Grand Final series. The Adelaide 36ers went on to win the championship with a 2-1 result in the best-of-three series.
After breaking club records for most wins in a season, most wins on the road and most wins at home in 2003-04, the Razorbacks made it to their second Grand Final series, this time against the Sydney Kings. In the new best-of-five format, the Razorbacks, who at one stage were up 2-1 in the series, lost 2-3.
During the 2003–04 season, legendary NBL forward, Bruce Bolden, became the first Razorback to have his singlet (#32) retired. In 2005-06 he was joined by #45 Simon Dwight - the NBL's all time top shot-blocker.
The club was headed up by basketball Olympian, Robbie Cadee, who launched the franchise in 1998–99. The Razors have had two shocking years in a row. The first of these years started off with Dwight's retirement and promising youngster Steve Markovic walking out on the club to play in Europe just a few weeks before the start of season. The second of the spell started off with import Nick Horvath sustaining a knee injury in the first game (he was out for season).
Cadee axed Watkins and hired Cal Bruton as coach in late 2006 amid a long Razorbacks losing streak. During the 2006-07 season the Razorbacks finally broke a 20 game losing streak against the Wollongong Hawks. Six games after that, the Razorbacks thumped the Kings 106-75 at the Pig Pen, spoiling Brian Goorjian's record of games coached.
In recent years the Razorbacks have been in severe financial difficulty after the original team owner, Canterbury Leagues Club, withdrew its support. Tri Media Group later took over the running of the club, which had almost folded. As a result of their financial troubles, the Razorbacks squad for season 2007–08 was composed mainly of young NBL rookies, headed by first time NBL coach Rob Beveridge.
As the Sydney Spirit
Shortly after the Kings left the competition, the Razorbacks changed their name to the Sydney Spirit, in an attempt to attract former Kings supporters to the only Sydney team left in the competition. This proved to be a failure as the Spirit could only attract a crowd of 1,500 fans to the opening match of the Spirit's season, and only two months into the 2008–09 NBL season the club's owner, Greg Evans, informed the league's executive that he intended to put the club into administration shortly, resulting in the club's immediate closure. The league stepped in with a rescue package to allow the Spirit to complete the remainder of the season, with the players and coaching staff agreeing to accept the league's minimum salary. The club also established a special financial account to allow interested parties to make contributions to supplement the league's rescue package; the first contribution was A$30,000 by Australian NBA player Andrew Bogut.
|NBL Finals appearances:||2000,2001,2002,2004|
|NBL Grand Final appearances:||2 (2002, 2004)|
|All-NBL First Team:||John Rillie (2004), Sam Mackinnon (2004)|
|NBL Rookie of the Year:||Steven Markovic (2004)|
|NBL Best Defensive Player:||Simon Dwight (2002)|
|NBL Best Sixth Man:||Bruce Bolden (1999)|
|NBL Most Improved Player:||Liam Rush (2007), Matthew Knight (2009)|
- "From Slammers to Pigs, now they're shooting to be kings". Sydney Morning Herald. 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- "Statement on Sydney Spirit". www.nbl.com. 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2008-11-26.[dead link]
- "Spirit lives on". Sydney Spirit. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2009-01-01.