An open letter to NBL owner Larry Kestelman _ a man many rightly hold responsible for rescuing the sport of basketball back from the depths of irrelevance on the Australian sporting landscape.
Dear Mr Kestelman,
Alas, the Illawarra Hawks find themselves at a crossroads again. As you are aware the Hawks are the only remaining foundation club in the National Basketball League. They, along with the Rollerhawks, are this region's national sporting team which takes the name of our beautiful region around the nation and the globe.
We revealed this week there are again major questions over the current ownership of the club and therefore its future. Naturally, the reaction of loyal Hawkheads and basketball fans around the country is to say "here we go again". The Hawks have had to fight for their survival on more than one occasion. Sports journalist Mitch Jennings went back into the archives this week to take a look at some of those moments and he was almost buried in that history. Such has been the rollercoaster ride that Illawarra/Wollongong Hawks fans have endured.
So it is only natural when we hear the news of this week to assume the worst. Hawks fans are both wary and weary. Yet this time it feels different. There are some key differences worth noting. The league is as strong as it's ever been, the sport is as strong in this nation as it's ever been and the Hawks are a well-known brand. Whereas previously the tin has had to be rattled in the community to keep this club alive, there are now some good, smart people with deep pockets lining up wanting to help take this club to a new future.
Mr Kestelman you, like Hawks fans, are probably sick of hearing about the Hawks being in trouble or in need of help. It's probably another headache you don't need. Yet there is a great quote of which I'm certain you are familiar "In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity". Mr Kestelman give the Illawarra Hawks the chance to make the most of a new opportunity. The way we see it is you have two choices. You could either give a new owner or ownership group the opportunity to build the Hawks a stable, strong future. Or you could take the license elsewhere. We plead with you not to do the latter. Help this club to move from a yearly fight for survival to a better future with some long-term vision about what the potential of the club, this city, this region could be. No longer do we want to just survive. We want to thrive. Mr Kestelman, help us do that. The ball is in your court.
Sincerely, Mercury editor Julian O'Brien.