“And to be fair, the least talented team comment isn’t far from the truth if you look at the individuals, the stats, and their previous basketball careers. But what they are, who they are , they galvanized into a fantastic team.
With little money, almost no staff and a rookie coach in former Perth Wildcats assistant coach Scott Roth, the JackJumpers not only had the challenge of building a team from the ground up, they also only had access to rookies that established teams didn’t want. .
“The other clubs knew we were coming and rightly signed all the quality players,” said Mr Brookhouse.
“That’s when we chose to recruit on character first. They’re all professional basketball players, they can all play. But if we had the right character, we could build the right culture.
It’s no different from the book and film by Michael Lewis silver ballthat Mr. Brookhouse has watched “several times,” which charts the real-life trajectory of the Oakland Athletics basketball team from a team of players no one else wanted to the top of the league.
“And a few of the guys had a point to prove. They had been neglected when they knew they were better than that,” Mr Brookhouse said.
Among the key recruits was Josh Magette, an American who had played with the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic. He only made the roster after another rookie, Mitch Norton, was picked up by the Perth Wildcats.
“Josh looks like an accountant. He is quite small, not very athletic [at 1.85 metres and weighing just 73 kilograms] but has this brilliant basketball brain,” Mr. Brookhouse said.
Another guard, Josh Adams, is also modestly tall at just 1.82m, but he had something to prove.
“Being small worked in their favor to some degree,” Mr Brookhouse said. “We had to change our game plan because our tallest player is six foot 11 [2.1 metres] but he is injured.
The JackJumpers story began in 2019 when NBL owner Larry Kestelman decided to create an expansion team and named Tasmania as the host state.
In 2020, Mr Brookhouse, former director of Golf Victoria, came on board and recruited Jorrick Chivers to run operations and Christine Finnegan to lead the commercial and marketing aspects of the business.
Ms Finnegan had held a similar position before, having worked for the Melbourne Storm, who won the National Rugby League premiership in their second year, and the St Kilda AFL side.
With only one mascot locked away – the poisonous Jack Jumper ant that is indigenous to Tasmania – the three hammered sidewalks and cold-called businesses of LinkedIn, all while COVID-19 raged across the world.
Being local and parochial was an asset Ms. Finnegan wanted to exploit.
“I realized there were a lot of Tasmanian businesses playing on the national stage,” she said.
“I made a list of them and approached each of them. I didn’t have a slide pack with the players on it, because we hadn’t signed any players yet. Scott [Roth] became my product and I would bring it to meetings to get them across the line.
His personal, business-focused approach worked. She had signed with eight of the team’s 12 major sponsors, including Spirit of Tasmania as title partner, before only one player signed on the dotted line.
The state government has joined in funding a new stadium – MyState Bank Arena – in Hobart. The team continued to cross the state selling foundation memberships for $60 each or $90 for families. The JackJumpers now have over 4,000 members, with the Governor of Tasmania, Barbara Baker, their patron.
“We don’t call him our number one ticket holder,” Ms Finnegan said. “Because every ticket holder is our number one.”
With the Tasmanian Hurricanes, a T-20 cricket franchise, the only other full-time professional sports team in the state, and deals for Hawthorn and North Melbourne to play four games each in Tasmania, there was an appetite not only for another team but one that reflected Tasmanian values.
“We needed to recruit people who are humble and strong-willed who fit into Tasmania,” Mr Brookhouse said.
“We often talk about a big family. This is what we set out to achieve. We’re talking about defending the island. What we have is to fight, as a club on the pitch and off the pitch.
Fortunately, homesick coach Scott Roth, who had not seen his US-based family for two years, was persuaded to stay.
On Sunday, the second final will take place in Hobart. Local tickets sold out in just three hours.
The JackJumpers, who beat heavy favorites Melbourne United 76-73 in the fifth semi-final last Monday, will face the Sydney Kings, a team of champions.
“It’s by far the most talented team,” said Mr Brookhouse. “And we’re just going to be the team that we are. And we will fight and we will fight and we will fight.