Basketball South Australia has a rich history

Basketball South Australia is proud of their history and where Basketball was founded in South Australia. Follow along the timeline to see where our great game came from. If you are looking for more history, check out the Basketball SA History Facebook Page

Basketball SA History Timeline

1936 – The South Australian Metropolitan Basketball Association was founded.

All games were played at the Duncan Buildings in Franklin Street, Adelaide with 16 teams competing.

Post-World War II – Basketball resumed at the O.B.I. in the Adelaide CBD and suburban drill halls, with 27 teams competing.

1946 – The first Australian Championship was held in Sydney.

The Australian Men’s Championship was held 36 times, the last series in 1984. South Australia won 14 titles and finished second another 13 times.

The Men’s Championship was discontinued in the 1980’s because of the advent of the National Basketball League.

1951 – The District Association was formed.

1953 – The Forestville Stadium was built with just one court and was the first of its kind in Australia.

1954 – There were 57 teams competing in all grades in the District Association.

1955 – The Australian Women’s Championship first was held in Melbourne and was held 29 times until it too was discontinued in 1984.

1955 – South Australia won the title 14 times and finished second another 11 times.

1956 – A second court was built at Forestville

1958 – A third court was built at Forestville.

1961 – The Association continued to grow at a rapid rate and Bowden Stadium was built with two courts.

1963 – A third court was built at Bowden.

1964 – 350 teams were now competing in all grades of the Association and further expansion was needed to house all the teams wanting to play.

1965 – The first court was built at Marion

1966 – A second court was built at Marion.

1969 – As the Association grew, a landmark in Australian and South Australian basketball came about when the Apollo Entertainment Centre was built. It had one court, the capacity to seat 3,000 people and became the home for basketball in South Australia providing offices for the administration of B.A.S.A.

It was a beginning for many more buildings to come until the major boom for basketball occurred in the 1980’s with the formation of the National Basketball League in 1979.

1971 – The Basketball Association of South Australia continued to grow and expand and two courts were built at Hillcrest.

1975 – Two courts were built at Colonel Light Gardens.

1976 – Two courts were built at Morphett Vale.

1980 – Barry Richardson was installed as General Manager of the Association and he consolidated the Association’s assets and continued its growth.

1985 – The Adelaide West End 36ers were formed as the one team representing South Australia in the National Basketball League. This sparked a tremendous upsurge in the involvement and interest of both the public and media in the State.

1985 – A third court was built at Morphett Vale.

1986 – The Association expanded even further with the addition of the Woodlands Sporting Complex at Athol Park, housing four basketball courts and both indoor and outdoor tennis courts.

1986 – The Adelaide West End 36ers won the National Basketball League championship for the first time.

1990 – A fourth court was built at Morphett Vale.

1990 – Further stadium occupancies at Elizabeth and Port Adelaide offset the eventual closing of the Bowden Stadium. The continued sell-out success of the Adelaide West End 36ers led the Association to initiate its most calculated gamble, the building of the 8,000-strong Clipsal Powerhouse at Beverley. The State Basketball League and the Netball Association had begun to consistently attract sell-out crowds to their grand finals at the Apollo, setting the scene for a feasibility study into the development of a multi-sports complex.

1991 – The Clipsal Powerhouse was opened on Thursday, December 19, 1991 at a cost of $16 million with the capacity to revert to a three-court international-standard facility.

1994 – South Australia won its first National League championship in the venue when the Adelaide QUIT Lightning took the Women’s National Basketball League crown, an outstanding feat they repeated 12 months later in front of 7,100 fans – a record attendance for a women’s basketball game in Australia.

1996 – The Adelaide QUIT Lightning won the championship for the third successive year when it defeated Sydney at the Sydney Entertainment Centre

1998 – The Adelaide QUIT Lightning won its fourth championship in five years when they again defeated Sydney in Sydney in 1998.

1998 – The 36ers defeated South East Melbourne Magic in a Grand Final series sweep.

1999 – The 36ers made it back-to-back championships, beating Victoria Titans in an epic three-game series.

2002 – The 36ers won its fourth championship, two games to one against the West Sydney Razorbacks under Coach, Phil Smyth. Adelaide’s 125 points in game 3 is the highest ever score in an NBL Grand Final game while they also hit a Grand Final record 19 three-pointers in the game.

2005/06 – The Adelaide Lightning changed to private ownership in 2005/06 with Fellas Gifts taking over the team for the season and they changed the name to Adelaide Fellas. 

2005/06 – The Basketball Association of South Australia was dissolved with the 36ers, Lightning and the Arena.

2006 – Basketball SA was formed as the new peak body for South Australian basketball which excluded ownership and management of the Arena, 36ers and Lightning.

2006/07 – The Lightning was sold to Link Engineering and Vince Marino the new owner, decided to put Lightning back into the name and the team was then named Link Lightning Adelaide.

2008 – The Adelaide Lightning won its fifth championship.

2013/14 – The Adelaide Lightning and the Adelaide 36ers have signed a one-year management agreement for the 36ers to run the marketing, membership and sponsorship for the season to share resources of the two clubs.

2014/15 – The Adelaide Lightning signed a one-year management agreement with Basketball SA who ran the marketing, membership and sponsorship for the season.

2015 – Basketball SA’s leading basketball competition for South Australia’s elite men’s and women’s teams, the Central ABL (CABL) was rebranded and took on the new identity of the Premier League from the 2015 season.

2016 – The Adelaide Lightning and the Adelaide 36ers signed a two-year management agreement for the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons

Follow @basketballsahistory


Basketball in South Australia the First 50 Years

Noel Woollacott