Home / World News / NBL 22 Throwdown: SEM Phoenix owner stokes rivalry with shock Melbourne United call

NBL 22 Throwdown: SEM Phoenix owner stokes rivalry with shock Melbourne United call

Josh Childress believes Melbourne United would own one less NBL title, had he not suffered a serious injury early in the 2018 grand final series.

Childress, now a part-owner of United’s arch rival South East Melbourne, fractured his scapula after colliding with United forward David Barlow in game 2. Childress and United, at the time, traded barbs over suggestions it was a deliberate act that forced him to watch from the sidelines as his Adelaide 36ers lost the series in five.

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Now playing a role in a different rivalry with the same club, the former NBA forward stoked the Throwdown ahead of Sunday’s battle.

“We (the 36ers) were in control of that game and we ended up winning and making it 1-1,” Childress said.

Josh Childress was a star in the NBL and now owns a share of the Phoenix.
Camera IconJosh Childress injured his shoulder during the 2018 grand final series. Credit: Supplied

“We were playing good basketball — we beat Perth the series before and I felt like I was in a good stride.

“Things happened differently than I had hoped but we were in a good spot to beat Melbourne and win that championship before I went down.”

Without Childress, the Sixers lost a tight game 3 at United by three points, evened the series at 2-2 in Adelaide, but were hammered in the decider.

Would the 2018 NBL grand final result be different had Josh Childress played every game?

Childress admits a grudging respect for United as one of the NBL’s yardsticks but believes Phoenix have put together a title contender.

“This game will be a really good test for us and a barometer to what can be a match up in the grand final,” he said.

“We’re split over the season, one-to-one, and have two home games left against them this season.

“Having a rivalry like this in the same city is fantastic.”

That dunk

Mitch Creek was Childress’ teammate on that 2018 Adelaide team and the two keep in touch. The Phoenix superstar’s dunk on Matthew Dellavedova that flared tensions earlier this season has been done to death.

But he says it had a major impact on the NBL’s exposure in the US.

So much so that New Orleans Pelicans star CJ McCollum, along with a host of friends and colleagues, text Childress when it happened.

“That dunk was played on (ESPN) Sports Center here in the states and all my friends and former teammates and colleagues were asking me about the NBL,” he said.

“They didn’t realise that it was that type of atmosphere and that quality of basketball, so moments like that are growth moments for the league and big moments for our team.”

One text away

The 38-year-old played eight seasons in the NBA, chiefly with Atlanta and Phoenix, and put together one of the most dominant seasons in NBL history, in 2015 leading the league in scoring and rebounding, finishing second in blocks and fifth in assists.

Part of an ownership group led by entrepreneur Romie Chaudhari, with fellow current or former NBA players John Wall, Zach Randolph, Dante Exum and Al Harrington, Childress believes their unique insight sets the franchise apart.

His DMs are open to every Phoenix player.

“We keep the dialogue as open as possible, make sure they have access to us, ask our insights on what we’re seeing on the court if they want,” he said.

“Being able to give that feedback when it’s asked of us is a game-changer for some of these players.”

Sage advice

When he was considering the licence for an NBL expansion team, Chaudhari came to Childress for advice.

“I had played three year’s in the NBL and I told Romie that I saw the trajectory of the league moving in the right direction,” he said.

“With the new management and ownership coming in through Larry (Kestelman) and Jeremy’s (Loeliger) leadership, I felt the league was in a really good spot to grow and it was a good time to get involved.

“Having another ball club in one of the largest markets in Australia was also an attraction.

“He agreed with that and here we are today.”

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