News that Illawarra Hawks star LaMelo Ball had made a quick exit to return to the United States is disappointing.
Ball hasn't played for a number of weeks due to a foot injury, but many fans would have been expecting and hoping to say farewell to the American teenage sensation at the last home game of the year in Sunday at the WEC.
At last week's game against Sydney, this week's game was being promoted as an opportunity for fans to say goodbye. The news of his premature departure even came as a shock to his team-mates who were also unaware Ball had flown back to the States on Wednesday.
Certainly the National Basketball League had hoped Ball would remain until the league's end of season awards next month. Ball is contracted to the NBL, not the Hawks as such, through the league's Next Stars program.
Publicly the club was saying all the right things from the league's perspective on the record, but there would be a high degree of frustration behind the scenes.
Inwardly the club will be again forced to manage of its own accord a level of dissatisfaction within the club, the supporters and sponsors. Current club owner Simon Stratford admitted to the Sydney media his personal disappointment the way Ball left the club.
The difficulty here for all is the league wants to maintain a strong relationship with a young man who is about to go as one of the highest picks in the next NBA Draft. Add to that the possibility the league may want him involved in any new ownership structure for the club if there is to be one.
Ultimately a season which promised so much for the region's national sporting team has delivered so little in terms of on court performance. Ball's first half of the year was an incredible ride, but ultimately the club is staring down the worst win-loss record of the club's four decade-long history.
In many ways Ball's season, including consecutive triple-doubles, will be the one thing that makes this season live long in the memory of the club's fans. The quick exit though may leave a bit of a sour aftertaste.