'Beyond embarrassed': Bogut rips NBL
NBL bosses have announced the Perth Wildcats are the league's new champions after the Sydney Kings pulled out of the finals series.
NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger and owner Larry Kestelman fronted reporters this afternoon and confirmed after significant discussions the Wildcats were the winners.
It's the Wildcats' 10th title and fifth in the last seven years while Wildcats star Bryce Cotton claimed the NBL Finals MVP award.
Kestelman said he, on behalf of the league, was "saddened by the by the state of the world".
"The ultimate decision lies squarely with us and the rules we're governed by," he said. "Nothing is absolutely normal about what's transpiring around the world but all teams enter the competition at the start and finish under a set of rules we're governed by."
Kestelman said he understood the decision from the Kings and commended the club, but handed the result to Wildcats.
Asked how it felt to announce the winner at a press conference rather than letting it play out on the court, he was clearly disappointed.
"It doesn't feel as celebratory as it should," he said. "In some ways, it's a little sad that a sport that is so much about our fans, and so much about entertainment and bringing joy to everyone around that it's done around a table. But at the same time, I have to take perspective and say we had to make a decision and we have.
"Both teams were incredible and I have no doubt either one would have liked it to finish this way. I'm sure both Perth and Sydney would have loved to have played out the five games and have the trophy be presented and to have the celebrations in front of a 15,000 crowd.
"It's not the way we wanted but we had to come to a conclusion."
Kings star Andrew Bogut took to Twitter after the announcement to congratulate his rivals."Congrats to the Perth Wildcats," he tweeted.
But the former No. 1 NBA Draftee teased what is set to be an explosive press conference tomorrow with a brutal shot at the NBL.
"In wrapping up the season, a quick not to say I could not be any PROUDER of the Sydney Kings and our playing group," he wrote. "After almost 3 hours of back and forth (and plenty of tears) we came to what ultimately was the hardest decision any Athlete or Team could make.
"I want to go on record to say I am beyond embarrassed and disappointed in regard to how this was handled by our league from the week leading up to the Grand Final series. More come at a later date re: that."
Quick note about the season that was @NBL 20 and the past few weeks.— Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) March 19, 2020
I will be chatting to the press tomorrow morning here in Sydney to wrap up our season.
Be safe out there and be a human being when out and about. pic.twitter.com/hAHMzpyGKR
While Bogut lashed out at the call, there were plenty well wishes for the back-to-back champions.
Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said it was "relief" for the decision to finally be made.
"We made our points with the three games that had been completed, I think the NBL made the right decision and we're happy with the result," he said.
"It doesn't have the same feel, not being able to share it with the Red Army, having them there to help celebrate with us, but I'm so happy for these guys, it was a great season for us."
The season was halted in extraordinary fashion on Tuesday when the NBL cancelled the five-game finals series with Perth leading Sydney 2-1.
Teams were due to play in Perth on Friday but, after playing the last two games in empty stadiums, the Kings informed the league they were no longer comfortable participating because of the threat posed by the coronavirus.
Caught out by the Kings' shifting stance, the NBL gave themselves a 48-hour window to determine the outcome of the series, Loeliger saying a no-result or Perth victory were both on the table.
It left the two clubs to duke it out on Tuesday - the Wildcats not missing as they stated their case for the title after Kings coach Will Weaver said it mattered little given the developing health crisis.
There was no clause in the NBL rules to stipulate who wins in this scenario, with Loeliger admitting they erred last Thursday when deciding to push on with a five-game series instead of shortening it to three.
The teams last Thursday agreed to continue the series in empty stadiums, with the Kings trailing 1-0 ahead of a trip to Perth.
Both teams then won games on the road, Loeliger saying options to accelerate the series and even play it in the same city were also rejected as government advice indicated it remained safe to travel domestically.
Wildcats captain Damian Martin believes his team should be awarded the title.
"At the end of the day Sydney made their decision, and they're the ones that decided they're not going to play," Martin said.
"So I think that's enough to say, 'OK, the other team wins'.
"Let's give someone a Championship, even if there is an asterisk next to it.
"I kind of feel for Bryce (Cotton) because I think he's going to go down as an all-time great and he deserves to have a grand final MVP next to his name, which he was definitely going to win."
- with AAP
Originally published as 'Beyond embarrassed': Bogut rips NBL