Heritage Round: Brian Kerle reflections | Brisbane Bullets
WHEN people talk about the Brisbane Bullets, one of the first names that come to mind is the legendary coach himself – Brian Kerle.
Kerle, known as the godfather of Brisbane basketball, built the Bullets up from a small club playing in front of just hundreds of fans at Auchenflower Stadium to a powerhouse of the National Basketball League.
A powerhouse which went on to sell out the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and claim two titles in 1985 and 1987, when they beat the Perth Wildcats in front of more than 10,000 to solidify themselves as the team of the late 80s.
Now 30 years on from the 1987 championship, Kerle still relives the memory of Leroy Loggins and his star-studded team dominating their competition and capturing the imagination of basketball fans around southeast Queensland.
“The best thing about those championships was just the support we had from the local community and the relationship we had with them. That’s what made the achievements so special, the atmosphere at the games and just the excitement surrounding the Bullets was incredible,” he said.
“You’ll never forget times like that and we were able to build something special. The great thing now about it is, those moments meant so much to everyone in the team and at the club, you still catch up and relive those times and share memories and stories to this day.
“Obviously winning the competition is great but it’s the relationships and bonds you build with everyone who was involved which makes it even better.”
Kerle remembers the early days when the Brisbane Bullets weren’t a big name in the Australian sporting landscape but that quickly changed, and the master coach believed there was still the potential to return to those glory days.
“It was such a quick change when everyone involved in the club fought tooth and nail to reach out to the community and in the space of just a couple of years, we were selling out the Entertainment Centre and tickets were the hottest thing in town,” he said.
“The atmosphere around the games is probably something the players, coaches, staff and fans who attended will always remember. People look at the Perth Wildcats selling out the Perth Arena, well we were doing that kind of thing 30 years ago.
“I think there is still the potential for the Bullets to get back to that point. It’s just the second year of them being back in the competition and it will take a little bit of time but the potential is definitely there.”
For the man, who had such a significant impact with the rise of the Bullets, Kerle said seeing the team fold and not exist for eight seasons was tough. But he also said that it meant a lot to him and others, who had played major roles in the team’s past, to see the Bullets back on the court.
“It was extremely disappointing when the Bullets went down in 2008 and for them to be missing from the competition for so long, it was devastating for everyone,” he said.
“But Larry Kestelman has done a great job revamping the NBL and the Bullets club and hopefully that will never happen again and the Bullets can rise like we did back in the 1980s.”
Written for bullets.com.au by Brayden Hestlehurst