The NBL Indigenous Round coincides with Reconciliation Week and will run from May 26 – 31, with all teams wearing jerseys designed by local Indigenous artists.
The 36ers 2021 jersey takes its inspiration from the team’s value of belonging.
Artist Shane Mankitya Cook says the design of different sizes and shapes “represent the different communities around Australia”.
“The lines connecting together represent when a team would travel from one state to the other to play against another community, while also paying respect to the Traditional Owners and their Country which the games are played on,” Cook said.
The Bullets jersey tells the story of their history spanning over 40 years, with the main element being a warrior’s shield and two spears.
“The shield symbolises ‘Strength’ to guard against attacks and the two spears symbolise ‘Speed’ and ‘Accuracy.’ These three elements are what makes the Bullets players so strong and effective,” said artist Janelle McQueen.
“The design starting on the bottom left is the Brisbane River times three, showing echoes of the time, representing the club’s past, present and future links to the places and people that shape the club. The yellow in the design on the right are the elements of Mother Earth and the healthy new growth for the Bullets.”
The CQ University Cairns Taipans jersey combines three main factors into one story about the people, the place and the culture.
“The design recognises and acknowledges four key Indigenous players that have played for the Cairns Taipans over past years, said artist Rhianne Williams.
Williams said while the design recognises Tim Duggan, Deba George, Kerry Williams and Nathan Jawai, it also “reflects all our Indigenous players across North Queensland and their cultural heritage”.
The Illawarra Hawks
The Illawarra Hawks jersey showcases the beauty of the Illawarra flame tree, designed by Samantha Hill and Harry Pitt.
“The flame tree is a prominent feature in the Illawarra region and is famous for the bright red bell-shaped flowers that cover its branches,” the artists said.
“The reds, yellows and oranges used on the jersey capture the magnificent burst of colour these trees possess when in full bloom, which in turn represent our vibrant Indigenous history.”
“The depth and length of the roots burying into the land highlights the Illawarra region’s long and proud Indigenous heritage.
“The blue side panels represent the enduring need to press on. For the sea that borders our region is vast with many unruly storms, but through perseverance, the path can be laid before us by reflecting on where we’ve come from.”
United’s jersey represents the Traditional Custodians of Naarm/Melbourne, the Wurundjeri people, and the land on which the club plays its games at Melbourne Arena.
Artist Mandy Nicholson says the jersey features designs within flowing lines, inspired by William Barak’s paintings and shields.
“This aspect of the design highlights Wurundjeris’ different layers of Country; Biik-ut (below Country), Biik-dui (on Country), Baanj Biik (water Country), Murnmut Biik (wind Country), Wurru Wurru Biik (sky Country), and Tharangalk Biik (forest Country above the clouds, Bunjil’s home),” Nicholson said.
“The iconic Melbourne United ‘M’ shows these flowing lines as well and is bordered by the ‘circled flowing line’ which is representative of the mountain ranges bordering Wurundjeri Country to the north.”
New Zealand Breakers
Sky Sport NZ Breakers’ jersey design was inspired by South Island school student Ollie Brown, who entered their design to be picked as the game jersey for the round.
The Māori design within the Kiwi was made in collaboration with their cultural ambassador Anthony Wilson of the Awataha Marae.
It embodies the club’s culture and values of legacy, unity, heart, speed and agility, which are carried by the players onto the court.
Respected Noongar Elder Dr Richard Walley OAM is the artist behind the Wildcats’ jersey this year.
“The big theme behind this design is quite a simple theme; it’s bringing people together, taking the game out to people,” he said.
“It’s about the warmth and the heat that the Wildcats radiate, it’s about the energy they produce, it’s about the place they live, the place of the sunshine, where the sun settles in the ocean.”
S.E. Melbourne Pheonix
The South East Melbourne Phoenix’s jersey design is a mix of elements including the Indigenous culture but also the culture of the club.
“The colours in the design hark back to the club colours, while the themes of family and community are at the core of what the Phoenix represent,” said artist Heather Kennedy.
“This is how l interpret the basketball club or any sporting organisation that strive to make sure all are welcomed, cared for and their needs are met and all are treated as family.”
The Brydens Lawyers Sydney Kings’ jersey design is a gathering of various members of the Wangal people along the Parramatta River. Wangal people are from the Eora Nation, which extends north to Hornsby, west to the Parramatta River, and south to the Royal National Park.
The Wangal members depicted in design:
- Three different clan groups, consisting of men, women and children, sitting around campfires
- Couples sitting along the river fishing
- Men with spears hunting along the river in order to feed their clan groups.
The jersey was designed by Bruce Shillingsworth Snr.
All proceeds from jersey sales from the NBL store will go to the development of the League’s new Indigenous pathway programs focused on player recruitment, development, and retention.
By Teisha Cloos