<i>Domestic league is a fraud</i>

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Stop the presses (I've always wanted to scream that)! There's a scandal percolating just below the surface in the national basketball league that is plumbing new depths of dishonour.

Basically the league is a fraud.

Let me ask you a question: Would the Breakers allow their scoring phenom Kirk Penney to take a two-week holiday smack dab in the middle of their season? Not a snowball's chance in hell, but that's exactly what's happening in the domestic league.

Wellington Saints star Nick Horvath started this season with a hiss and a roar and then disappeared, took a month off to get hitched, coming back after the honeymoon. I've got nothing against the institution of lasting love but schedule it around the season, for crying out loud!

Last week Auckland's leading scorer and rebounder Casey Frank flew the coop back to the States for a two- week break - his team immediately lost to bottom- placed Canterbury.

I'd like to ask another question here: Did Auckland reduce their ticket prices for the game seeing as the public plonked down their hard- earned cash expecting to see Auckland's marquee player in action, when in fact he was missing in action? And what if one of these teams miss the play-offs by one game because they gave their stud free rein to dictate his own playing schedule. That'd surely make their sponsors happy - not.

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New Plymouth's Tony Rampton has it written into his contract that he gets to take a three-week holiday during the New Zealand season. Can you believe that? It just pisses me off no end and I'm not even involved in the damn league.

Call me old fashioned or call me out of step with the modern athlete but basketball is my game, something I respect and appreciate and I wouldn't treat it the way these clowns are.

What happened to discipline, commitment and dedication? How does the rest of the team feel when they're busting their asses in the dead of winter in a freezing cold gym while the superstar is off holidaying, sucking back cocktails, relaxing and taking in the sights.

I know New Zealand is a "she'll be right" laid-back kind of place, but this just degrades the entire league. And what's worse is the chicken-livered coaches who succumb to this malarky.

Let me ask the coaches a question here: Are the virtues of sacrifice and commitment no longer relevant?

I had a "ham & eggs" coaching philosophy: The chicken was involved, she laid the eggs, the pig was totally committed, his ass was on the plate, meaning if you played for me you better believe that your ass was going to be on my plate - period!

The New Zealand Breakers struck the first blow towards killing off the local league and now this practice of allowing it to be used as a doormat by players whose main priority is the Australian National Basketball League should finish the job off nicely.

I can't fathom the mindset of a player who would leave his teammates high and dry in the middle of the season or what pathetic coach would run his programme that way. In the end the New Zealand National Basketball League is just an easy part-time pay cheque for these hoop mercenaries.

So the last question that needs to be asked in this column is this: If the coaches and the players don't give a damn about the league, why should the public?

Sunday Star Times