During the 2018-19 NBL season, the league incorporated an Indigenous game; the Illawarra Hawks hosted the affair, which was widely praised among the basketball community in Australia.
Still, there were calls for a more significant recognition of the Indigenous community, with Patty Mills leading the charge. The San Antonio Spurs guard — whose father is a Torres Strait Islander, while his mother is an Aboriginal Australian — got his wish.
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From January 29 to February 2, the league will host its inaugural Indigenous Round, with all nine NBL teams set to wear jerseys designed by local Indigenous artists. During Round 18, spectators across the nation can expect to see a Welcome to Country and an Acknowledgement of Country, with key members of the Indigenous community to be invited to games.
“There are a number of Indigenous players, officials and administrators who’ve made an important contribution to basketball both in Australia and New Zealand,” NBL Commissioner, Jeremy Loeliger, said.
“It’s important we recognise these key Indigenous figures in a meaningful and impactful way, while also acknowledging the contribution wider Indigenous communities have made to the game.”
The Sydney Kings will slightly sway from the rest of the league and hold their Indigenous game on January 19, as will the South East Melbourne Phoenix, who will host theirs on February 9. Foxsports.com.au understands that both teams have a desire to acknowledge the Indigenous community on their home floors, respectively, with both teams playing on the road during Round 18.
“We will contribute proceeds from the sales of the Indigenous jerseys towards the development of young Indigenous players to ensure young male and females have a pathway to pursue their basketball dreams,” Loeliger said, with the NBL planning to “work with its key stakeholders to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan to support the national reconciliation movement.”
“We want to ensure others can follow in the footsteps of players such as Danny Morseu, Patty Mills, Nate Jawai, Paul Henare and Pero Cameron and the many others who’ve made such a huge contribution to the game both here and around the world.”
Olgun Uluc is the Senior Basketball Reporter for Fox Sports Australia. Twitter: @OlgunUluc
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