NBL owner Larry Kestelman admits there will always been an asterisk on the season after the Perth Wildcats were awarded the title two days after their grand final series against the Sydney Kings was extraordinarily cut short.
- The Wildcats were leading the grand final series 2-1 when it was cancelled by the NBL
- The Kings will not challenge the NBL’s decision to award the Wildcats the championship
- Wildcats guard Bryce Cotton was awarded the Larry Sengstock Medal as finals MVP
The NBL cancelled the best-of-five series on Tuesday, with the Wildcats leading 2-1 ahead of Friday’s fourth game in Perth.
That decision came because the Kings — citing the threat of coronavirus — refused to play on, while the Wildcats maintained they were ready and willing to continue.
Both teams originally agreed last week to continue with a five-game series before the Kings had a change of heart.
The series halt meant the Wildcats’ win in an empty Sydney stadium on Sunday decided the series, eventually assuring the defending champions their 10th title.
@psmithtse tweet: “I expressed no disappointment to @KestelmanLarry when he advised me at 2:57pm of the NBL decision. The decision is the decision.”
Kestelman said he respected the Kings’ decision, but that “rules were rules”.
He said the club had received the news with disappointment and grace, with Kings owner Paul Smith tweeting his congratulations to the Wildcats after the decision was made public.
“As a human being I feel for players,” Mr Kestelman said.
“But the fact of the matter is we’re in extraordinary circumstances and … we were only left with one decision to make.
“There’s always going to be an asterisk next to this season, for all sorts of reasons … we’re all going to remember this one.”
Star Kings guard Andrew Bogut was less complimentary of the process, however, labelling the NBL’s handling of the entire grand final series embarrassing and disappointing.
Bogut tweeted his congratulations to the Wildcats but slammed the NBL.
“I am beyond embarrassed and disappointed in regards to how this was handled by our league from the week leading up to the grand final series,” Bogut tweeted.
“This has nothing to do with the result announced today and I wish to congratulate the Perth Wildcats on being crowned champions.”
NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger was comfortable that the “logical conclusion” had been reached by following the letter of the law.
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“Having considered all of that advice, we have concluded that there is only one outcome that is most appropriate in the circumstances,” he said.
“In this instance, games four and five were cancelled by the League due to unforeseen circumstances pursuant to rule 34 (regarding game abandonment) of the NBL operations manual.”
Meanwhile, Wildcats import Bryce Cotton was awarded the Larry Sengstock Medal as finals MVP.
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