NBL owner Larry Kestelman says Andrew Bogut’s arrival promotes global interest in the competition.NBL owner Larry Kestelman says the league has gone global with the signing of NBA championship-winner Andrew Bogut and expects more Australian stars to return home.
Kestelman, who bought the league for $7 million in 2015, said he was always confident he could attract the big name stars back Down Under.
“We put rules in to give clubs incentives to sign Australians to come back. I knew eventually one of the NBA guys would come back,” Kestelman told AAP on Tuesday morning after Bogut’s press conference.
“It was on us to set up the right platform for them to be able to do it.”
The illustrious signing comes fresh on the heels of the New Zealand Breakers being sold to a consortium containing ex-NBA stars Matt Walsh and Shawn Marion.
“We’re now a global league and there is interest coming all around the world,” Kestelman said.
“They’re Australians, they’re proud, they want to give back and they want to play in front of their families.”
He said the NBL was still committed to another team in Melbourne within two years and hoped the interested generated by the signing of Bogut would attract investors.
“We now have groups of people from all around the world looking to these things and other business.”
The 33-year-old Bogut admitted the NBL was in no state to lure him back down under four or five years ago but the league was now in such a strong and exciting position the time was right.
The 2015 NBA championship winner with the Golden State Warriors said he wanted to lead a movement of other Australian NBA stars to return home.
He said some, who he did not want to name, had already texted him and mentioned they could do the same thing.
There are seven Australians currently playing in the NBA finals series, headlined by gun rookie Ben Simmons.
“It’s a fantastic time and there’s no better time for the NBL,” Bogut said.
“With the TV deal pending as well … let’s talk to these big dogs (Kestelman and NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger) and get the NBL on free-to-air.”
Australian Associated Press