Double Dribble: Basketball exports fail to generate interest at home

Issue of the year

In many ways it's a golden age for Australian basketball but the sport is still fighting for relevance in this country. No fewer than four Boomers - Golden State centre Andrew Bogut, Cleveland guard Matthew Dellavedova and San Antonio pair Patty Mills and Aron Baynes - are playing in the NBA. And there are more to come ... Dante Exum, Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden are all considered bound for The Big Show. In the NBL, there has been an influx of top talent with Sydney Kings snaring NBA journeyman Sam Young, Miami Heat draftee James Ennis lighting it up for Perth Wildcats, and Melbourne Tigers adding to their roster mid-season by signing Mustapha Farrakhan, who played with the LA Clippers in the 2013 pre-season. However, basketball still has a fight on its hands for crowds and media attention as the NBL continues to try to rebuild and become a financially stable - perhaps even one day, viable - operation.

The Winners

The New Zealand Breakers registered their third straight NBL championship by sweeping the Wildcats in front of more than 13,000 fans at Perth Arena. Coach Andrej Lemanis was rewarded with the Boomers job but the Breakers are finding it hard to snare a fourth successive title following the loss of star point guard Cedric Jackson in the off-season and their ageing roster finally losing their battle with Father Time. Bendigo Spirit lifted the WNBL trophy for the first time when they downed Townsville Fire 71-57 in the grand final, just reward for a professionally run organisation that is renowned for punching above its weight.

The Losers

The New York Knicks have gone from the hottest ticket in town to a laughing stock. Coach Mike Woodson took them to second place in the Eastern Conference last season, and even though they bombed out in the second round of the playoffs, optimism was high leading into this season. Unfortunately for long-suffering Knicks fans, they have returned to the bad old days of under-achievement. They have traded away draft picks and young talent and are left with star forward Carmelo Anthony and a bunch of overpaid veterans that have been overtaken by younger, better teams. And it could get worse for New York with Melo off contract at season's end and already saying he wants to test the market to see what he's worth in free agency.

The "Dropped My Bacon Sandwich" moment

Ray Allen produced the play of the year and what will be remembered as the defining moment of his glittering career when, with Miami facing NBA finals elimination and 5.2 seconds on the clock, he accepted a pass from Chris Bosh, stepped back (without looking) beyond the three-point arc and nailed a step-back jump-shot for the ages. It's history now that the Heat forced overtime, overcame San Antonio and then backed up to win game seven to clinch their second straight championship.

The Tweet Of The Year

Clippers forward Matt Barnes (@Matt-Barnes22) on March 6 after Thunder opponent Serge Ibaka was fined but not banned for puncnhing LA's Blake Griffin where no man wants to be hit.

"You can INTENTIONALLY grab or hit someone in the balls & not get suspended, but you push someone & get suspended. #ImConfused"

The Name We Didn't Know Before the Start Of The Year

Dante Exum is a name you won't forget. The 18-year-old Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holder, who made his Boomers debut in September against New Zealand, is expected to be picked in the top five of next year's NBA draft, guaranteeing him a multimillion-dollar contract. At 1.98m, the son of former Geelong Super Cats import Cecil Exum is tall for a guard, but has had NBA scouts salivating over his all-round game.

The Name We'll Be Talking About At The End Of Next Year

Next off the production line is Ben Simmons, the son of Melbourne Tigers import Dave Simmons, who has been honing his craft at the Montverde Academy in Florida. Louisiana State University beat Duke, Kansas and Kentucky to be Simmons' college of choice, and the power forward is already being projected as a top-five pick in future NBA drafts.

Taking it to the poll ...

Last week's NBA question about whether Andrew Bogut should make the Western Conference's All Stars team this season drew a 54 per cent of the 533 votes saying he should not be in the team.

The ratio for the NBL poll was much more emphatic with 92 per cent of the 207 votes saying the Sydney Kings sacked the wrong import when they punted Jesse Sanders and kept Charles Carmouche.

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