Launceston Casino City Tigers could only last three years amid the embryonic days of the National Basketball League, but their legacy is one that cannot be forgotten.
Not at least in the annals of the Tasmanian game.
Just as NBL owner Larry Kestelman promises all of the state the world ahead of its first team in just on 25 years come 2021, one of the NBL originals that stretches back to Launceston's famed year of 1981 still looks at the hoop from more long range.
Dean Draper will never be remembered as one of the Tasmania's greats, but the Norwood resident that has a Launceston best player of the competition medal named in his honour recalls feeling a real culture shock.
"Nobody as far as us locals had any idea of what was this NBL," Draper admits.
"There had never been Americans here playing basketball before that.
"It was a whole change of culture when these blokes did stuff that you dreamed of doing: like to dribble the ball behind your back and between your legs. We didn't know much about that.
"Just the sheer size and athleticism of these blokes - they played completely different to what we had ever known basketball to be."
Tasmania was slow to pick up basketball, not arriving on its shores until 1946.
But Casino City, as they were simply known, was set to make up time putting the hometown on the map.
Games in front of family and friends was one thing, but sudden interstate travel and shock fame was another.
"A couple of us might have been on a plane a couple of times before that - and only probably to go to an Australian championship. Well, you didn't go on them on the family holidays like you do now," Draper says.
"It was not an everyday occurrence, but you were almost idolised because you go to places where there were basketball fanatics.
"It was like you had a Casino City tracksuit on and people would want to come and talk to you. I mean it's like, 'what's going on here'."
It was certainly a world away from a NTABA game on a Wednesday night on a court where the ball would echo with very little fanfare.
That was unlike the Tigers' game night at Dowling Street when numbers would flock enthusiastically to see what all the fuss was about.
"The crowd was on top of you, sitting on the floor and that sort of thing where you can reach out in the court to touch them," Draper recalls.
"If you chased up a loose ball over the sideline, you'd just run into the crowd."
There was good reasons for support to be stacked up deep from the front.
The Tiger Tale of the Tape...
HOME: Dowling Street (now Elphin Sports Centre)
OFFICIAL COLOURS: Red and Yellow
RECORD: 1980 - ninth (9-13 win/loss); 1981 - champion (16-8 including finals); 1982 - twelfth (5-21)
SUCCEEDED BY: Devonport Warriors (1983-84); Hobart Tassie Devils (1983-96)
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
By their second season - and just the third of the NBL - Launceston were crowned the 1981 champions.
But it wasn't really the team but an individual that thrilled Draper the most.
The polished guard was the reason Casino City went all the way after just sitting out of semi-final contention entering the last game.
Davies next tipped in the side into the grand final from the foul line after trailing Coburg by a solitary point entering the final seconds.
The very next night Davies disposed of Nunawading in an emphatic victory.
They say Davies just perfected the three-point bomb before basketball officials even drew the arc on the court.
"He was a freak - he just was," Draper smiles.
"The way he shot the basketball was a little bit different to traditional ways.
"He had a slinging style from back behind his head that made him impossible to guard because he got his shot away no matter how close you were. His range before there was a three-point range was amazing."
But as soon as success arrived, it disappeared.
Next year 11 less wins and sliding down 11 spots, the club was wound up.
The money ran out, the players and fans were told, but they weren't the first.
The Tigers were one of 10 changes of new sides after the first four NBL seasons.
"Strange thing was it came and went so quickly that it wasn't a great deal of fuss either way," Draper says.
"It was like we can't afford it so we're not playing, the Americans left and we went back to what we were doing before. It wasn't doom and gloom like it tends to be."
Draper reckons Tassie's NBL justification is about "putting heads together and dreaming big" that is a little more than 12 months away for the state's fourth attempt.
"The real legacy of it all was that we first had a team in the NBL and we actually can do that," he says.
"That's why Devonport and Hobart tried, and I think if Casino City hadn't been there at the start, the others might not have followed on."
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