Founded 1931 Folded 2014 (Became Melbourne United) Stadium The Cage Capacity 3,500 Owner Melbourne Tigers Basketball Club Championships 1993, 1997, 2006, 2008
2013-14 Melbourne Roster 2012-13 Melbourne Roster 2011-12 Melbourne Roster 2010-11 Melbourne Roster
Andrew Gaze 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2004 Chris Anstey 2006, 2007, 2008 Chris Goulding 2013 Darryl McDonald 2006, 2007 Dave Thomas 2005, 2006, 2007 David Colbert 1990 Dave Simmons 1990 David Barlow 2008 James Bullock 1988 Jonny Flynn 2013 Lanard Copeland 1992, 1994, 2004 Mark Bradtke 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2004 Rashad Tucker 2007 Robert Sibley 1993 Seth Scott 2013 Stephen Hoare 2005
#6 Warrick Giddey #8 Ray Gordon #10 Andrew Gaze #50 Mark Bradtke #21 Lanard Copeland #25 Dave Simmons
Most points in a game 60 Andrew Gaze, 11/07/87 3 Pointers made in a game 10 3 Players tied Most Assists in a game 20 Andrew Gaze, 18/08/95 Most Blocks in a game 8 Mark Bradtke, 23/10/98 Most Steals in a game 7 Eric Bailey, 18/05/85 Most Rebounds in a game 24 Mark Bradtke, 07/09/96
Most Games 614 Andrew Gaze Most Points 18,938 Andrew Gaze 3pt Made 1,827 Andrew Gaze Blocked Shots 522 Mark Bradtke Steals 1,078 Andrew Gaze Assists 3,533 Andrew Gaze Rebounds' 4,681 Mark Bradtke
Entering the NBL/80s
The Tigers joined the National Basketball League in 1984. Throughout the majority of the 1980s, they saw limited success, despite the number of records which superstar Andrew Gaze, son of coach Lindsay, racked up. 1987 saw Andrew average 44ppg, and set a single game scoring record of 60 points, however, the team still failed to make the playoffs. Once imports Dave Colbert and Dave Simmons were recruited in 1989, the Tigers began to see greater on-court success, making the playoffs for the first time that year. Colbert however, left the club to move to Brisbane in 1991, leaving the Tigers looking for a new import.
The 1990s/Championship Years
With basketball about to boom in Australia, the Tigers moved into what is now called Rod Laver Arena, the biggest indoor stadium in Melbourne, moving out of the 7,200 seat Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Centre at the end of 1991. New recruit Lanard Copeland signaled the good times ahead with a dunk for his first points in the NBL and the first points at Melbourne Park.He went on to team up with Andrew Gaze in a decade long backcourt partnership, which many observers cite as the greatest backcourt duo in Australian basketball history. Dubbed "the dynamic duo", the pair were noted for their signature "alley-oop". With this potent backcourt leading the way, the Tigers made the Finals in 1992, against the newly formed South East Melbourne Magic. Despite the Magic losing point guard Darren Perry to a torn achilles tendon in game one, they managed to rally to beat the Tigers in 3 games.
The Tigers filled their biggest need in the off-season, by recruiting one of the best big men in the country in Mark Bradtke. Teaming up with Gaze, Copeland, Simmons, and the newly recruited Robert Sibley from Brisbane, the Tigers boasted a formidable starting lineup. They defeated the arch rival Magic in the second round of the playoffs, to set up a Finals matchup with the Perth Wildcats. Having split the first two games, the Tigers faced the difficult task of the deciding game in the hostile environment of the Perth Entertainment Centre, a venue they had never won at.
The Tigers controlled much of the game, but in the closing minutes had to withstand a furious comeback from Perth, led by their captain Andrew Vlahov. Andrew Gaze iced the game with a pair of critical free throws in the final seconds. The emotional toll of the championship was evident on coach Lindsay, and son Andrew after the game, as they broke down crying whilst embracing. The Perth crowd were noted in the media for a lack of sportsmanship, as they booed Andrew Gaze during the acceptance speech.
The Tigers were unable to reach the Finals for another three years, where they faced cross-town rival South East Melbourne Magic once again. In a tough three game series, the Magic once again prevailed.During the following off season, import Dave Simmons departed, and was replaced by Jarvis Lang. Having to deal with a mid-season return from Mark Bradtke from the NBA, the Tigers started the 1997 season in very poor form, with a 311 mark at the midpoint of the season. Lang was sacked due to concerns over tendinitis in his knees, and Marcus Timmons was brought in on a tip from former assistant coach Brett Brown.
From that point, the Tigers did not lose another game until the second game of the Finals against the Magic. They equalled the now defunct Sydney Supersonics winning streak of 16 consecutive games. With Timmons teaming up with Gaze, Copeland and Bradtke, this quartet accounted for over 90% of the Tigers points production.Game one of the Finals was a whitewash against the Magic, which saw coach Brian Goorjian resort to a more slowdown offense and physical defense in Game two, to combat the Tiger's free-flowing style. The Tigers regained the ascendancy in Game 3, as they claimed their second championship in front of their home town fans.
The Tigers were unable to recapture their championship form throughout the rest of the '90's. Andrew Gaze spent part of the 1999 season with the San Antonio Spurs in the American National Basketball Association (NBA), winning a championship with them. Without Gaze's on-court leadership and point production, the Tigers faltered in the latter half of the season, after looking like running away with the competition at the midpoint of the season. They eventually fell in the first round of the playoffs. After this, import Marcus Timmons requested permission to break his contract, to play in Poland. Permission was granted; however, he returned for the next season, this time with the Perth Wildcats, where he led the team to the championship and was named Finals MVP. As basketball's popularity in Australia fell throughout the late '90's and into the new millennium, the Tigers experienced great financial trouble off the court.
In 2000, they moved to the newly constructed Vodafone Arena, but struggled to fill it. By 2002 crowds were at less than 50% capacity and it was revealed that they were $2.5M in debt, and in serious danger of folding. Andrew Gaze himself did not have a salary paid to him for his final few playing years in order to ease the financial burden. He supported himself through endorsement deals.
A new ownership consortium under Melbourne Businessman Seamus McPeake and the Gaze's, saw financial stability restored to the club for the 200203 season. At the same time, Melbourne's other team, the Victoria Titans (formed under a merger of the North Melbourne Giants and South East Melbourne Magic in 1998) were unable to survive and folded. The license was quickly picked up and the Victoria Giants were formed, with many former Titan players, including league legend Darryl McDonald.
The Tigers embarked on a financial rationalisation project, the first priority of which was to no longer play games at the very high rent 10,500 capacity Vodafone Arena. The Tigers moved their home games to the smaller main court of the State Netball and Hockey Centre in Royal Park, with the deal signed in July 2002. They still play at the there to this day. On court, with their ageing superstars Gaze, Copeland and Bradtke unable to produce at the same levels they did in the '90's. The 2004 season saw the demise of the Victoria Giants. They had decided to sack Darryl McDonald at the start of the '04 campaign, and the Tigers gladly picked him up as a backup point guard to Andrew Gaze.
The conclusion of the 200405 season saw a changing of the guard for the Tigers. League legend Andrew Gaze retired, and Mark Bradtke accepted an offer from Brisbane, in part to be closer to his wife's (Nicole Provis former Australian Tennis Champion) family. Lanard Copeland's dwindling production saw the Tigers decide not to renew his contract, although, he was offered an off court role with the club. Believing he still had playing years in him, he followed Mark Bradtke to Brisbane. On the same day as the retirement of Andrew Gaze on May 12 2005, Tigers head coach Lindsay Gaze also announced that he was retiring. Lindsay Gaze, the inaugural coach of the Melbourne Tigers NBL team, had coached the team for 22 seasons from 1984, including a total of 689 games with 363 victories. His departure made way for long-time and loyal Tigers assistant coach, Al Westover, to be promoted to head coach. Imports Rashard Tucker and Dave Thomas would take the lead on court roles at the club, joined by big man Chris Anstey who returned from a 3 year stint in Europe.
Return To Championships
With D-Mac moving into the starting line-up, joined by Thomas, Tucker, Anstey and an improving Neil Mottram, the Tiger's had an extremely successful regular season, which saw them finish second to the Sydney Kings. Tigers coach Al Westover was named Coach of the Year. Centre Chris Anstey was named both the Grand Final Series' Most Valuable Player and league MVP and Stephen Hoare won Sixth Man Of the Year.
The Tigers swept the playoffs, defeating the Perth Wildcats 20 in the Semi Finals and the Sydney Kings 30 in the Finals. D-Mac's season was particularly impressive, as he outclassed many quality point guards throughout the season, including starting Australian Boomer point guard C. J. Bruton in the Finals. His stellar performances were seemingly at odds with his advanced age of 42, making him the oldest player in the league.
A new Melbourne team provided a new local rivalry in the 200607 season. The South Dragons, having enticed Shane Heal back from a two year retirement, showed respectable form in their first season, making the playoffs. Although they added former NBL stars such as Frank Drmic and big man Matt Burston from Perth, their youngsters such as Joe Ingles led the way. Former NBA All Star and all time NBA freethrow percentage leader Mark Price? added a great measure of respectability to the organisation, as their inaugural coach however, in the midst of many early personnel changes, was fired and replaced by player-coach Shane Heal.
The Tigers roster was enhanced for the 200607 season. D-Mac signed a new two year contract, and former Tiger Nathan Crosswell returned from Cairns to back him up, with a promise he would eventually take over the reins. Neil Mottram exercised his European out clause to play with Italian second division team Fabriano. Despite rumours that local big man Simon Conn, or ex West Sydney Razorback Simon Dwight were in their sights to replace Mottram, the Tigers managed to secure Axel Dench's signature on 9 August 2006, just before leaving for Singapore for a pre season competition. They successfully appealed Dench's point status, allocated from when he was previously active in the NBL 2 years ago with the Hawks. The Tigers now looked extremely strong for the upcoming season, as League MVP Chris Anstey returned to the Tigers, after not receiving a call-up from the NBA after his off-season work out with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Tigers won the Singapore Cup, in their first games with new additions Axel Dench and Nathan Crosswell. D-Mac's son, Derrick, also played with the Tigers on the trip. He would continue to see court time with his father throughout the season as a developmental player on the Tigers roster.
The Tigers fell to the Brisbane Bullets in the pre-season Blitz, which perhaps proved an omen for the upcoming season. With a roster that was legitimately 10 deep, the Bullets dominated the season, on route to an NBL record 21 game win streak and defeated the Tigers 31 in the Finals.
This defeat perhaps indicated to the Tiger's management that despite their depth and experience, a dose of athleticism was required in the roster. They responded by signing athletic young Boomer David Barlow from Sydney on 3 April 2007. Despite releasing back up centre Axel Dench to free up points for Boomer Brad Newley, Newley announced on 27 April that he was signing with the Adelaide 36ers. The Tigers were expected to look for a new import guard after declining to resign import Rashard Tucker, who subsequently joined the Cairns Taipans. However, Melbourne veered away from signing an import guard, instead looking to veteran Estonian, former NBA big man and long-serving Euroleague player Martin Müürsepp to fill the breach at centre. His signing came as a result of his close relationship with Chris Anstey whilst in Dallas and Russia, and after the Tigers missed out on Sean Lampley. The 205 cm, 105 kilogram Muursepp saw time as part of the Tigers' front line taking minutes previously allocated to both Dench and Tucker. The decision to not sign an import guard indicates that talented Canadian swingman Dave Thomas would see more time there during the 2008 season, in addition with former Kings swingman David Barlow and the up and coming Tommy Greer.
The Tigers began the 2007-08 campaign in fine form, with nine straight victories, as new import Martin Muursepp eased into the lineup with his precision passing. However, in early November, the Tigers hit a rough patch. They lost star import Dave Thomas for two months with a dislocated kneecap, and Martin Muursepp was battling an ankle injuries, receiving cortisone injections before the game to play. The Tigers lost four straight game, which prompted a crisis meeting, where the Tigers brought out their '06 championship trophy at a training session and asked each player to talk of what it meant to them.
The Tigers responded by steadying the ship with a tough win against Perth at home, before letting import Martin Muursepp go, whilst signing their initial target, Sean Lampley. With Lampley providing a much needed scoring punch, especially due to Thomas' injury, the Tigers held down second spot for the remainder of the season. Dave Thomas returned late the season, and despite having not beaten either the Kings or the Bullets in five encounters this season, they appeared to be hitting top form at the right time.
The Tigers faced Brisbane in the semi finals, and after easily accounting for them in game one, closed out the series in overtime in Brisbane. Sean Lampley and Chris Anstey made several big shots down the stretch, with Lampley taunting the Brisbane players down the stretch with his clutch shooting. Anstey was fined $2000 by the league for making an obscene gesture to the fans after the game.
The Finals Series proved to be one the best in NBL history. The Tigers matched up against the Kings, and after fading out in the last quarter of game one, took game two down in Melbourne, as several Kings players lost their cool down the stretch. In Game three Sean Lampley hit clutch three pointer with just 13 seconds remaining to clinch the game, and the Tigers looked ready to close out the series on their home floor in game four. However the Kings, showing the tenacity they have been regarded for, fought through injury and poor shooting to take game four on the Tigers floor with a gutsy performance down the stretch. In Game five the Kings sold out the Entertainment Centre, with a new buzz around basketball due to the intensity of the series. Down the stretch, the Tigers were able to make the big plays, and closed out the championship, providing the perfect farewell for veteran guard Darryl McDonald.
On 11 May 2009 the Tigers made a short lived decision that they would sit out a year of the new NBL competition, due to poor financial management from Basketball Australia, with McPeake stating that his concerns were with "Governance and the TV deal." The Tigers had been the most profitable and well run club in Australia, stringing together five consecutive profitable seasons. With no naming rights sponsor for the league and a poor television deal, the financial forecast was poor, and the Tigers made the decision to sit out one year.
On 28 May 2009 the Tigers reversed their earlier decision, after receiving assurances from Basketball Australia on the television deal.
On 10 June 2009 the Tigers announced their first two signings, Mark Worthington and Chris Anstey, and confirmed that they would commence the new season with no imports for the first time in club history. It was further reported that they had let Stephen Hoare go, and Tommy Greer would pursue options elsewhere, likely with the Cairns Taipans. The Tigers are waiting on Sam Mackinnon to be passed fit by doctors, with youngster Jesse Wagstaff as a backup option. Nathan Crosswell may have played his last game for the Tigers, as they look to secure Nathan Herbert's signature. On 17 June 2009 the Tigers announced they had resigned Darryl Corletto, as well as newcomer Ryan Bathie. On 18 June 2009 they announced they had resigned David Barlow and Luke Kendall. On 19 June 2009 they announced they had resigned Daniel Johnson and Matt O'Hea, meaning that three spots were remaining on the roster. Tommy Greer and Sam Mackinnon are understood to have been offered contracts, with Stephen Hoare awaiting their decision. On 23 June they announced the resigning of Sam Mackinnon, meaning that two spots remain. On 26 June they completed their roster, securing Tommy Greer, despite offers from Cairns, and resigning Nathan Crosswell, after apparently missing out on Nathan Herbert. On 21 July it was announced that David Barlow would play in Spain this year, meaning that the Tigers would need to look for a replacement.
In the off-season of 2010, the Tigers roster was dismantled after the departure of Julius Hodge, Mark Worthington, Nathan Crosswell as well as the retirements of NBL greats Sam Mackinnon and Chris Anstey. The Tigers announced the signing of American import guards TJ Campbell and Eric Devendorf. They then landed the signature of Wollongong Hawks superstar Cameron Tragardh. The Tigers would then sign big men Matt Burston, Wade Helliwell and Luke Nevill. They capped off their roster with the signing of Big V forward Lucas Walker. Along with Bennie Lewis, Daryl Corletto and Tommy Greer, who had stayed in Melbourne, the Tigers completed their roster for the 2010/11 season. The season started disastrously for the Tigers losing their opening game at home to their rivals, the re-vamped, Sydney Kings. The Tigers would proceed to start the season on a 7-game losing streak. After the 6th loss, Melbourne fired point guard TJ Campbell and signed 2009/10 NBL MVP, Corey Williams as their new point guard.
After showing positive signs in the loss against reigning champions Perth, the Tigers finally broke the shackles and won their first game when the defeated the Gold Coast Blaze on the road. Throughout the season the Tigers claimed big scalps including a victory against Perth, in Perth, that ended in controversy with Corey Williams and Eric Devendorf taunting the crowd. In early February, the Tigers released centre Luke Nevill, in an agreement that would let him play in Russia. They also released import Eric Devendorf leaving them with only 1 import. Daryl Corletto and Matt Burston were promoted to the starting line-up and stayed there for the rest of the season. After the terrible 7-game-losing start to the season, the Tigers would finish with a 10 - 18 record and 7th place on the ladder.
In the off-season of 2011, the Tigers were the most active club at the beginning of Free Agency. They secured the signature of NBL Coach of the Year, Trevor Gleeson as their Head-Coach on a three-year deal. On the first day of Free Agency, Melbourne announced the signing of Australian Forward Liam Rush, who would be returning to the NBL after stints in Europe. They, on the same day, announced the addition of exciting young guard Daniel Dillon as their second free agent signing of 2011. After just a week of Free Agency, Melbourne announced the final 3 positions on their roster had been filled after they re-signed Forward Lucas Walker as well as the huge signings of the exciting import duo Ron Dorsey and Ayinde Ubaka who had both starred for the Cairns Taipans in season 2010/11, helping them to their first Grand Final appearance.
In August 2011 the Tigers had announced that they had signed Australian star & NBA player Patty Mills whilst the NBA was locked out. Pattys stay was just 8 games as he later left the team to sign in China.
After a great 5 - 1 and with Cameron Tragardh playing at MVP level, the Tigers fell down. Patty left to play overseas he was not re-placed. The Tigers had in-fact let Daryl Corletto go (who later signed with the NZ Breakers to make room for Mills). And after a terrible game against the Blaze, Ayinde Ubaka was fired by Seamus Mcpeake after the game. Ubaka ended up signing with the Wollongong Hawks & the Tigers signed Myron Allen to replace him. Allen although played well, did not fit the team. This mixed with Tragardh being used as a sixth man (leagues leading scorer at the time) meant that the Tigers would fall out of the playoff race, fast. The Tigers finished 2011-12 season with an 11-17 record.
Before the start of the 2012-13 season the Tigers released import Ron Dorsey  and signed American big man Seth Scott. They also picked up Adam Ballinger from Adelaide, Chris Goulding from the Blaze (who left the NBL after the 2011-12 season) & rookie Nate Tomlinson.
After a slow start to the 2012-13 season, the Tigers finally won their first game of the season beating the Townsville Crocs, soon after this game was finished Melbourne released Kevin Braswell and replaced him with former NBA draft pick and player Jonny Flynn. The Tigers would then go on a run mid-season and break the top 4 late in the year thanks to the play of Chris Goulding, Jonny Flynn and Seth Scott. All three Tigers were also named to the 2013 All Star Game where Goulding was named as the All-Star MVP. Lucas Walker & Bennie Lewis Jr were named to the dunk comp, Lewis took out the comp after beating Lance Hurdle in the finals.
Melbourne positioned themselves for a playoff run after going 4-1 and then a 4 game winning streak late in the season. But during a game against the Wollongong Hawks, import Jonny Flynn went down with a knee injury and would miss the last 5 games of the season. During the same game Seth Scott injured his back and was limited for the reason of the season. The Tigers went on a 4 game losing streak (including the loss to Wollongong) and although would win their final 2 games, missed on out the playoffs.
The Tigers re-signed Chris Goulding & Tommy Greer as soon as the season ended. Melbourne released Liam Rush and did not re-sign Bennie Lewis Jr or Seth Scott. Instead the Tigers replaced Scott with Scott Morrison and Jonny Flynn with Stephen Dennis. In July 2013 Melbourne also signed former Tigers forward Mark Worthington and Auryn Macmillan. During the pre-season Blitz in Sydney Chris Goulding went down with an ankle injury that would see him miss the first few weeks of the season. Just a few days after, import Stephen Dennis and Tommy Greer both went down with serious injuries. Dennis would miss the entire 2013-14 season, Greer would miss the first 3 months of the season. Ayinde Ubaka was signed by the club to replace Dennis however he was released after just 7 games. He was replaced by Mustapha Farrakhan who struggled to find his place in the league and towards the end of the season saw little playing time.
Melbourne made the playoffs in 2013-14 but were eliminated in 3 games by the Adelaide 36ers. At the end of the season Nate Tomlinson was named the NBLs most improved player and Chris Goulding was named to the All-NBL First Team. Goulding also scored a league high 50 points in a game, the most since the NBL switched to 40 minute games. Goulding also led the league in scoring and was 3rd in MVP voting.
In May 2014 the Tigers announced that from 2014-15 onwards they would be known as the Melbourne United. This caused an uproar with fans and former players such as Lanard Copeland who declared he would not want his jersey retired by Melbourne United as he did not play for them.
The ownership group announced that they own all rights to the history of the Tigers (NBL, not junior ranks), squashing the rumours that a Gaze-led bid for the Tigers to return in 2015-16 or beyond.