The noise at the WEC last season to greet Jerome Randle was deafening.
Randle, then with the Adelaide 36ers, earned the wrath of local basketball fans with some less than pleasant comments about the Illawarra Hawks during the NBL finals series. And the reception home fans gave Randle in return almost ripped the roof off the WEC.
It was a spine-tingling sensation as the seething mass became a boiling cauldron and rode the NBL MVP every time he touched the ball.
The Illawarra Hawks won and got the final laugh as well, knocking the 36ers out of the finals on their home court in the next clash.
Adelaide opted against recruiting Randle for this NBL season. Instead the star point guard has only just been picked up by the Illawarra Hawks’ bitter arch enemy the Sydney Kings and will make his debut in purple on Thursday night at the WEC.
The Kings have been woeful – apart from a couple of wins against the Hawks – and have opened the cheque book in the hope of buying some form.
Randle’s signing will give them some much needed fire power, but it will do nothing more than further fueling what was an already huge home clash for the Hawks who have turned their season around.
The Hawks have won three straight games on the road and now have a win-loss record of 4-5 going into the showdown with the Kings.
It would be seemingly impossible to make Illawarra Hawks fans hate the Sydney Kings more than they do already. Yet the addition of Randle to the Kings makes the impossible possible.
And just in case you needed reminding, this is what Jerome Randle said in February _
"I just don't like them. I don't like the way they play basketball," Randle said.
"I don't like anything about none of the guys on the team. I'm just being honest.
"There's a lot of dirty players on the team, that is how they play - fight first, play basketball second."
Well it’s time to get down and dirty again on Thursday Hawkheads. Time to give Jerome Randle and the Sydney Kings that famous Illawarra welcome.
Thursday’s edition of the Illawarra Mercury will feature a special back page welcoming Jerome Randle back to Wollongong.