Three former NBA stars — Zach Randolph, Josh Childress and Al Harrington — have purchased an ownership stake in the National Basketball League’s newest franchise, the South East Melbourne Phoenix.
The investment in the Phoenix, which will make its debut next season, is another strong endorsement of the NBL and its status as one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA.
“We are thrilled to welcome Zach, Josh, and Al to the Phoenix family,” said Phoenix owner Romie Chaudhari. “I have worked with them all in various capacities in the past, and they have the qualities I want in partners for this venture.
“When they individually expressed interest in being part of the Phoenix, I was delighted to bring them aboard. The basketball audience in Australia is huge and South East Melbourne is the most significant basketball region in the country — Australia’s basketball heartland. I appreciate that my new partners are offering their basketball knowledge to help make South East Melbourne Phoenix successful. We look forward to introducing them to the fans as we build a great club for this exciting journey ahead.”
Randolph, Childress and Harrington have all enjoyed successful careers in the NBA, with Childress and Harrington also playing in the NBL. They will all attend Phoenix games during the season and support the team through a range of initiatives.
Randolph, who has played 18 seasons in the NBA, said: “This is a great opportunity for me to work with Romie and be involved in the NBL. I really took notice of the league after seeing players like James Ennis and Terrance Ferguson come through the NBL and make their marks in the NBA.”
Childress, who played in the NBA for eight seasons and the NBL for three, is excited to now be part of an ownership group.
“Having spent three seasons playing in the NBL, I’ve seen the strides the league has made and I felt compelled to be a part of that growth. I believe there’s a tremendous opportunity for the South East Melbourne Phoenix to compete at a high level in this league and I look forward to supporting the team this season and beyond alongside Romie, Al and Zach.”
Hungry Jack’s NBL Chief Executive Jeremy Loeliger said: “To have three NBA players, two of whom have also played in the NBL, invest in Phoenix is a great endorsement of the league and supports our belief that the NBL is now one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA.
“Australian basketball continues to grow, with the NBL enjoying record attendances and broadcast audiences. Basketball is now in the top ten sports played in Australia and enjoying record popularity at a grassroots and elite level.”
Thirteen Australians featured in the last NBA season, led by first-time All-Star Ben Simmons, NBA champions Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes and Utah Jazz duo Joe Ingles and Dante Exum.