NBL announces champs amid 'far from normal' circumstances

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

The NBL has announced the Perth Wildcats will be awarded this season’s championship, ending several days of speculation following the withdrawal of the Sydney Kings from the grand finals series.

Perth led the series 2-1 before the Kings announced they would not play the remaining two fixtures of the series, due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

HIDDEN GEM: NBA fans go wild over photo of LeBron James and Michael Jordan

SPREADING: Kevin Durant among four Brooklyn Nets players with coronavirus

The Kings' decision came as Western Australian health experts called for a state border closure, the club confirming on Wednesday it was a move made with the "well-being of society" in mind.

Wildcats import Bryce Cotton was awarded the Larry Sengstock medal for grand final MVP.

In a statement, NBL owner and chairman Larry Kestelman congratulated the Wildcats, but made a particular note of thanks to the ownership groups of both teams for their efforts to reach a solution.

“I would like to congratulate all the teams that participated in what has been an extraordinary season and in particular the two grand finalists,” Kestelman wrote.

Perth import Bryce Cotton was named NBL grand finals MVP, while the Wildcats were awarded the championship after leading the series 2-1 when play was suspended. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

“I’m also extremely proud of all the owners of the teams of their conduct throughout this season, in particular Paul Smith from the Sydney Kings and the ownership group and board of the Perth Wildcats represented by Mike Board.

“The NBL’s intention has always been to provide advice, guidance and work through a consultative process with the two teams involved as circumstances were, and still are, far from normal.

“This was done with a very clear understanding that of course the final decision will always rest with the NBL and the rules governing the league.”

NBL’s legal advice over Perth Wildcats championship

NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger also made a statement, confirming Perth’s championship victory and Cotton’s finals MVP as well as revealing some details about how the league settled on awarding the championship to the Wildcats.

“We have taken extensive advice on this matter from the NBL board of directors, members of our advisory board, FIBA and our external legal advisers K&L Gates and I thank all of them for the benefit of their insight and perspective,” Loeliger wrote.

“Having considered all of that advice, we have concluded that there is only one outcome that is most appropriate in the circumstances of the league having made the decision to cancel games 4 and 5 of the Finals Series.

“We feel that the rules set out in the NBL Operations Manual are clear in this regard.”