An open letter to Seamus McPeake

Seamus,

I have been a Tigers supporter since 1992, when I was 11 and discovered the game of basketball. I couldn’t count the number of games I’ve been to, the amount of money I’ve spent on merchandise and memberships, or the vocal chords I’ve damaged shouting my support in the years since. The Tigers have been a massive part of my life for almost as long as I can remember.

The club I adopted and fell in love with was built on a foundation of loyalty and stability. I grew up with Gaze, Copeland, Bradtke, Gordon and Giddey. These are guys who were there year in, year out and bled red, black and yellow. They became like family, and gave the “family club” its soul. It was that sense of solidity and loyalty that endeared the club to me. The fact that so many players from that era have remained around the club speaks volumes.

Things have changed since those days in the 90s. Basketball’s popularity is not what it once was, the business model has changed, competitive pressures have intensified and the nature of recruiting has changed. But none of those changes are a reason, or an excuse, for the club’s core values – the things that make the club special – to be abandoned.

Seamus, you’ve done great things for this club. You’ve steered it through an incredibly tumultuous period, and your dedication and passion have ensured that the club has survived when many others have not. Every Tigers fan should be thankful for that, and I believe most are. None of us have agreed with everything you have done (I hated the Worthington signing, for instance), but for the most part your decisions have been at worst defensible, and at best absolutely correct. I have repeatedly defended and supported your decisions when many others have not. The Westover decision, the releasing of Homicide, the Mills signing, all decisions which have been pilloried in many quarters, were in my eyes good moves.

I fear, though, that you are now a destabilising influence on my club.

None of us know what happens behind closed doors. But from outside, Ayinde Ubaka appeared to be a person who was popular within the club and a great guy off the court. His play, while not always stellar, was solid and occasionally spectacular. He was fun to watch, and was far from being the source of any problems the club finds itself in. And now, with a stroke of the pen and no doubt a few terse and poorly chosen words, he is gone. And he is gone, apparently, based on a decision that was yours and yours alone.

When the club signed so many players on multi-year deals in the off-season I felt like we were building something – hoping for immediate success but being prepared to build if that success did not come in season 11/12. My dismay at our faltering performances was tempered by the knowledge that we had a solid core with 10 player points to play with in the off season, surely a sign of great things to come. That’s what makes this move so shocking. To arbitrarily cut a player of such quality and popularity when the future holds so much promise portrays a complete lack of long-term vision at a club where long-term vision has always been at the forefront.

I now worry for my club with you at the helm, Seamus. I worry that fans will become disheartened after losing one too many of their heroes. I worry that players will think twice about coming to the club as it builds a cavalier reputation for sacking them at a moment’s notice and that current players will be forever watching their backs rather than focusing on the game. And more than anything, I worry that the club I love because it always stood for something important will one day soon stand for nothing at all.

You have done so much for the club, Seamus, and I thank you for it all. Perhaps now, the biggest gift you could give the Tigers is to step away from the basketball side of the club and leave the decisions to those more qualified than yourself. Regardless of the formal ownership structure this club belongs to us, the fans. It is not yours. We were here before you took over, and we will be here after you leave. It is time to hand over the reins to someone who understands that.

Regards,

Tim Grimes

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Comments
  1. Nick says:

    VERY well said

  2. Rachael says:

    Fantastic letter. Every sports club around the world deserves supporters like yourself.

  3. Jason says:

    Well said … I too worry for the future of the Tigers if this trend continues (and I’m a Kings supporter / Razorbacks fan).

    Like you said, nobody really knows what happens behind closed doors and you hit the nail on the head when you said that the club belongs to the fans. Sure this has brought attention to the club, but at what cost?

  4. Clint says:

    Very, very well said.

  5. Phil says:

    I have been following since Westover and Gorgian played and we first made it into the NBL. I am aware of the input McPeake has had, but is he not now turning into the type of rogue owner that has destabilized the NBL for the last 10 years? He has put up the cash – no doubt – but owners come and go, players and coaches come and go, at the end of the day it belongs to the fans. The new team in Melbourne already has one fan.

  6. ChristianBe says:

    Thanks for voicing what many of us feel and have felt. I like you have been going to games prior to the 90’s and when i could afford it as a teen i bought or asked for a membership as my gifts until i could pay for them myself. I have been a member since 1990. I have been blessed to witness all the championships and the near misses. The Magic and Tigers rivalries with 15000 Rod Laver Arena fans. The wins in Sydney, esp game 5 for the crown. The ups and downs. We are a family club. Ive brought family and friends to games to experience the buzz of a close game. It is hard to rebuild a club from the ground up and early success helps, but leadership at all levels has been poor. Roles undefined clearly or redefined again unclearly. Time and support to foster the new changes weren’t given. Sadly Results and emotion override what needed time, and encouragement to develop. Hopefully new management let all players in all levels play their defined roles with inspirational and motivational leadership. I wish the new owners the poise and patience required for cool heads to take the inherent talented core legacy left behind by Seamus and co to bring forth the potential we do have 🙂

  7. […] His outbursts, stubbornness and lack of respect for the most loyal of Tigers put off many fans. This open letter is a perfect […]

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