A SYNDICATE of three passionate basketball businessmen were awarded the Illawarra Hawks licence for the 2020/21 National Basketball League (NBL) season and beyond.
In one of the biggest talking points of the NBL off-season, it was at one stage rumoured that future NBA star LaMelo Ball was set to buy the Hawks after representing them last season. Instead, a syndicate of Australian entrepreneur and former co-owner of the Sydney Kings, Dorry Kordahi, prominent former NBA executive Bryan Colangelo and US businessman and basketball influence Michael Proctor have taken over the Hawks’ licence.
In the announcement today, NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman said it was an “exciting” time for the Hawks and further demonstrated the impact the NBL had on the world stage for international investors to show interest in a league club.
“There was widespread interest from a number of overseas and local parties, and we believe this is the best credentialed group to deliver long term success on and off the court for our proud foundation club,” Kestelman said in a statement today.
“They have a proven track record in business and basketball to be able to take the Hawks to the next level as the NBL continues on its strong growth trajectory after five consecutive years of record attendances and broadcast audiences as well as increased global recognition. “And the syndicate is still open to other business people from Australia and overseas to be involved.
“The decision in choosing the right owners was not an easy one and I want to acknowledge and thank all those who were part of the thorough process undertaken. “I would like, in particular, to thank LaMelo Ball and his organisation for the support and interest shown in wanting to achieve the best outcome for the team that has helped him have a chance at being the number one NBA Draft pick. “We hope we can explore future opportunities with LaMelo and wish him all the best for the NBA Draft in October and his ambition to be the best ever player in the game.”
A talking point during the announcement was what the team might be renamed to with a suggestion that the Hawks’ moniker would remain, but the Illawarra brand would be expanded to be more inclusive of a larger area.
“The intention is for Wollongong to remain the primary base for the Hawks, supported by positive discussions with Venues NSW about upgrading the WIN Entertainment Centre to ensure we have the best venue possible to deliver world class entertainment for Hawks fans,” NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said.
““There are also opportunities for the Hawks to grow their fan base across the region following their success in taking games to Canberra in recent seasons. “I wish our newest team owners the very best for the coming season. “We are confident that once we get back out on the court, the Hungry Jack’s NBL is going to be as hotly contested as ever.”
Kordahi, a well respected businessman who has earned a number of industry awards co-owned the Sydney Kings by the age of 32. He is also a member on the Advisory Board of the NBL.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the syndicate and myself to positively contribute to the ongoing success of the NBL, give back to the local basketball community and embrace the rich history of the only founding club to create a team that fans can be proud of,” he said.
“Our goal and main drive are to grow the Hawks organisation and establish a respected program in the NBL. “We believe we have a unique collective of experience, knowledge and networks, both in basketball and business to deliver this.”
Colangelo has experience within the NBA, having spent time across three clubs, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers. He hopes to bring that experience Down Under and make the Hawks a destination club, as well as a destination league.
“Australian basketball with its great history has been on a significant rise for many years now and the NBL has played a significant role in growing the sport’s awareness and participation levels, while developing some of the best athlete and coaching talent the world has to offer,” Colangelo said. “We are thrilled to be selected as new partners with the league and pledge to outperform the expectations placed on us and deliver for Hawks fans.”
“With the Next Stars initiative, the league has strategically positioned itself as a viable alternative for young athletes seeking a premium player development and athlete care model that best prepares them for competing at the sport’s highest levels. “LaMelo Ball, among others, serves as a great example of just how influential the NBL has become on a global basis.”
Proctor is a businessman, restaurateur and real estate developer based in St. Louis, Missouri. He has been involved with basketball from the NBA down to the NCAA where he spent time playing as a prospect himeself.
“The Hawks present such an exciting opportunity for our ownership,” Proctor said. “We view the league as one of the world’s best. “My hope is that we can make the Hawks a well-respected winner for years to come.”