The NBL wishes to clarify and respond to comments made in respect to the Hungry Jack’s NBL Grand Final Series presented by MG. Given the escalating threat of COVID-19 over recent weeks, the NBL regularly consulted with both the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats right throughout the series.
The NBL made the decision to proceed with game one as planned in Sydney on Sunday March 8. In the days leading into game two in Perth last Friday we were in constant contact with both teams. A number of options were canvassed with both teams including shortening the series to best of three games and moving the locations of games. We also discussed and costed charter flights to protect the health and wellbeing of players and staff.
At that stage there was no agreement to change the schedule and games two and three were to proceed as planned. Both teams also agreed to continue to fly commercial. However, we did make the decision after consulting the clubs and medical experts to close the remaining games of the series to the general public even though we weren’t required to do so at that point and other sports were continuing to play in front of crowds.
With the situation changing daily, we then proposed to both teams after game three in Sydney last Sunday to bring forward the remaining games of the series to Wednesday and Friday of this week. Perth agreed to do this but Sydney insisted the scheduled five day break between games was necessary for players’ rest and recovery.
At no stage during discussions with the teams was there any agreement between the teams and the NBL to not award the championship should the series be unable to be completed. However, the NBL did make it clear we would immediately cancel the series should a player test positive for coronavirus. We continued to monitor the situation closely and NBL executives and staff were in attendance at all games during the Grand Final series to help manage and lend support.
As already stated, on Tuesday this week Sydney informed us it would not play the remaining games of the series. We fully respected this decision and after further consultation with the Australian Basketball Players’ Association we immediately cancelled the remaining games of the series.
We then undertook the exercise of determining, pursuant to our rules, whether the championship should be awarded and if so, to whom. The rules led us to conclude that the championship should be awarded to the Perth Wildcats.
The health and wellbeing of the players has always been our number one priority. Our decisions were guided bythe advice of the relevant Australian government authorities and also our own medical officers.
Australia and the rest of world is in the midst of a global pandemic affecting us all in different ways. As important as sport is to us in our lives, there are far more important issues to consider right now.