The National Basketball League (NBL) is Australasia’s premier men’s pro-basketball tournament and the league consists of eight NBL teams.
Seven of the NBL teams hail from Australia and one is based in New Zealand. The NBL was founded in 1979 and since then the most successful NBL team boasting nine titles is the Perth Wildcats out of Western Australia.
Originally there were nine teams in the NBL competition. The current NBL teams that vie for the NBL championship title each season are the: Adelaide 36ers, Brisbane Bullets, Cairns Taipans, Illawarra Hawks, Melbourne United, Perth Wildcats, Sydney Kings and New Zealand Breakers.
The Brisbane Bullets made their return to the NBL in 2016 since their departure in 2008.
NBL teams compete over a season starting in early October and finishing-up with the NBL Finals in February – March / April the following year. The NBL teams face off across a regular season that sees them play 14 home and 14 away games each for a total of 28 games played before the finals NBL season that pits the top four teams against each other. Just two of the current NBL clubs are foundation clubs – the Brisbane Bullets and Illawarra Hawks the two oldest teams in the tournament. The Bullets have a disjointed history playing from 1979 – 2008. They were reintroduced due to popular demand for the 2016-17 NBL Season. The Hawks meanwhile played under that title from 1979 – 1998 before a reintroduction in 2015-16 following a stint from 1998-2015 as the Wollongong Hawks.
The youngest NBL team founded in 2003 is the New Zealand Breakers, located in Auckland on NZ’s North Island. The last defunct NBL team to leave the competition was the Townsville Crocodiles who played their final season in 2015-16 after suffering financial instability.
Below is a more detailed look at the eight NBL teams (alphabetically) including their home cities, arena, current head coach and team colours.
Formerly called the Adelaide City Eagles the club adopted the name 36ers in 1983 harking back to South Australia’s history with the Colony officially decreed in 1836. They are the second most successful team in the NBL with four championships along with Melbourne United and the NZ Breakers.
- City: Adelaide, South Australia
- Arena (Capacity): Titanium Security Arena (8,000)
- Foundation Year: 1982
- Club History: Adelaide City Eagles (1982), Adelaide 36ers (1983-present)
- Team Colours: Blue, Red & Yellow
- Head Coach: Joey Wright
- Mascot: Murray the Magpie
- NBL Championships: 4 (1986, 1998, 1999, 2002)
The Bullets made a return to the NBL for the 2016-17 season playing for the first time since 2008 when they departed from the league. They have enjoyed three NBL Championships (1985, 1987 and 2007) with the latest won at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, not their home venue at the Convention Centre, to increase crown capacity.
- City: Brisbane, Queensland
- Arena (Capacity): Brisbane Convention Centre (4,000)
- Foundation Year: 1979
- Club History: Brisbane Bullets (1979-2008; 2016-present)
- Team Colours: Maroon, Gold & Blue
- Head Coach: Andrej Lemanis
- Mascot: Boom
- NBL Championships: 3 (1985, 1987, 2007)
- Retired Numbers: 3 (7, 22, 30)
The Taipans’ home venue is nicknamed “The Snakepit”. They are yet to win a Championship in the League but have finished runners-up in 2011 and 2015. Their past notable rivals were the Townsville Crocodiles who left the league in 2015 due to financial difficulties and are now the sole team from North Queensland in the competition.
- City: Cairns, Queensland
- Arena (Capacity): Cairns Convention Centre (5,300)
- Foundation Year: 1999
- Club History: Cairns Taipans (1999-present)
- Team Colours: Orange, Navy, Tan & White
- Head Coach: Aaron Fearne
- Mascot: Joe Blake
- NBL Championships: 0
- Retired Numbers: 1 (8)
The Hawks home venue is nicknamed “The Sandpit” and are the only club still in the NBL to have competed every single season since the competition was founded in 1979. The team has had 10 head coaches over the years with Eric Cooks and Gordie McLeod the only ones to have both captained and coached the club.
- City: Wollongong, New South Wales
- Arena (Capacity): WIN Entertainment Centre (6,000)
- Foundation Year: 1979
- Club History: Illawarra Hawkes (1979-1998, 2015-present)
- Team Colours: Red & White
- Head Coach: Rob Beveridge
- Mascot: Tomma & Moe
- NBL Championships: 1 (2001)
- Retired Numbers: 5 (4, 5, 12, 32, 33)
United are the only Victorian-based club in the NBL and have two home venues with the smaller of the two – the SNHC referred to as “The Cage”. Along with the Adelaide 36ers and NZ Breakers were the second most successful club with 4 Championships, second only to the Perth Wildcats, until scoring their fifth NBL Championship title and first as a rebranded club in the 2018 NBL Grand Final Series.
- City: Melbourne, Victoria
- Arena (Capacity): Hisense Arena (10,500); State Netball and Hockey Centre (3,500)
- Foundation Year: 1984
- Club History: Melbourne Tigers (1984-2014); Melbourne United (2014-present)
- Team Colours: Navy Blue & White
- Head Coach: Dean Demopoulos
- Mascot: Mr Baller
- NBL Championships: 5 (1993, 1997, 2006, 2008, 2018)
- Retired Numbers: 6 (6, 8, 10, 21, 25, 50)
New Zealand Breakers
The Breakers are the only non-Australian based club in the NBL. They are also the youngest competing team having been founded in 2003. Their primary home venue Vector Arena is known as “The Breakerdome”. They might be a young club but already they have enjoyed 4 championship wins – most recently in 2015.
- City: Auckland, New Zealand
- Arena (Capacity): Vector Arena (9,300); North Shore Events Centre (4,400)
- Foundation Year: 2003
- Club History: New Zealand Breakers (2003-present)
- Team Colours: Black, Light Blue & White
- Head Coach: Paul Henare
- Mascot: Cheeky the Kea
- NBL Championships: 4 (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015)
- Retired Numbers: 2 (24, 32)
The Wildcats are the most successful NBL club boasting a total of nine championship wins (as of 2019). Their home venue Perth Arena is known as “The Jungle” and their sister club is the Perth Lynx. They have appeared in all 33 NBL finals from 1987 – 2019 including 14 Grand Final appearances making them one of not only basketball’s but Australia’s most successful pro-sporting clubs.
- City: Perth, Western Australia
- Arena (Capacity): Perth Arena (14,846)
- Foundation Year: 1982
- Club History: Westate Wildcats (1982-83); Perth Wildcats (1984-present)
- Team Colours: Red & Black
- Head Coach: Trevor Gleeson
- Mascot: Wilbur the Wildcat
- NBL Championships: 9 (1990, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019)
- Retired Numbers: 6 (6, 7, 14, 15, 21, 30)
Sydney are a merger club created in 1988 when the West Sydney Westars and Sydney Supersonics became the Kings. They have enjoyed three championships to date with three straight (2003, 2004, 2005) – the first in the NBL to win three consecutive titles. Their venue is known as “The Kingdome”.
- City: Sydney, New South Wales
- Arena (Capacity): Qudos Bank Arena (18,200)
- Foundation Year: 1988
- Club History: Sydney Kings (1988-2008; 2010-present)
- Team Colours: Purple, Gold, White & Black
- Head Coach: Andrew Gaze
- Mascot: The Lion
- NBL Championships: 3 (2003, 2004, 2005)
- Retired Numbers: None