Australia’s National Basketball League is once again highlighting the art and culture of the Indigenous people of Australia and New Zealand through uniforms for their annual Indigenous Round, taking place early next month.
The NBL has been holding Indigenous Rounds since 2020, enlisting Indigenous artists to create jerseys showcasing the art of different communities in different regions.
Here’s a look at the jerseys for all 10 NBL teams, plus a special jersey for the referees, along with some information about each artist:
The light blue lines connected by circles represent the River Torrens which surrounds the stadium where the 36ers play.
The four faint yellow stars represent the championships the 36ers have won and the little symbols that surround the jersey number is the symbol for men — there are 15 representing full roster.
The bottom of the jersey has a symbol for flowing water which represents the coastline of South Australia.
The circles on the back behind the numbers mean everyone coming together as one to watch and support the team.
This design is centred around the team and its connection to country. It features symbols that represent the players, community and the surrounding landscapes of Brisbane. The top circles represent the different communities of supporters and sponsors. The centre circle and ‘U’ shapes are representative of the team and players. The hills down the bottom and the background circles represent the Meanjin landscape.
In addition, the artist has included a serpent (or rainbow serpent) on the jersey, which is the creator of all our waterways, such as Brisbane River.
The uniform is based on an original painting by Dale “Malla” Oliver. The artist has chosen to depict the Taipans through the language of art and illustrate the club and how it captures the entire region – the club of Cairns, for everyone.
The painting represents the Illawarra Hawks with the hawk in the middle representing the players. The bottom of the painting represents mother earth, the sacred Ngurra (land). The blue is the ocean and the rivers that run into the ocean. The brown lines above the water represent the mountains. The feet are players walking to the court which is shown as a half circle around the hawk.
The double U shapes in the corners show the Holders of Knowledge (Elders) who watch over the players. The three circle shapes near the hawk show meeting places. The colours used as dots show the different coloured traditional ochres that our people use in ceremonies and for paintings.
The design is a representation of the club’s purpose: to use the power of basketball to inspire, entertain and enrich people’s lives.
Showcasing United’s commitment to walking the journey with First Nations people towards reconciliation, Hunter endeavoured to represent the club’s history, as well as its path forward.
From paying homage to the club’s former Champions to capturing the player’s strength and resilience, the design is a true representation of NARRM.
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
The design draws from the rich Maori cultural story about pounamu (greenstone) and its origins.
Poutini is the name of the taniwha swimming up and down the West Coast of the South Island protecting both the people and the spiritual essence or mauri of pounamu, greenstone. Poutini guards the mauri within the treasured stone. The mana or spiritual force of pounamu comes from Kahue (or Ngahue). Poutini as protector of the stone is the servant of Kahue.
The word ‘Dandjoo’ in the neck means ‘togetherness,’ which is the main theme of the design.
The four main circles represent the four decades of Wildcats history. The White ‘U’ shapes around the circles represent families and friends coming together. The connecting lines between circles represent the song lines/connection of the many regions of WA — an acknowledgement of Country to all Aboriginal Countries of WA. The larger lines on either side of the main circle elements represents the Wildcats, and how they are united in bringing the state and people together. These winding lines symbolise the trail or ‘bidi’ which represents the journey of the Wildcats to and from every game. The dots included on the background of the artwork are a representation/typical of the art form linked to the greater region (Goldfields) that Rosie represents.
SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
There are two components to this design, Bunjil and the background. Bunjil is the creator deity for the people of the Kulin nation and a very important figure to Victorian mobs.
The background includes kangaroo prints; the kangaroo does not walk backwards and this represents the new forward direction the club is heading in with the appointment of a new coach, Mike Kelly.
The lines in the background represent the tracks that snakes leave behind in the sand. The snake always moves forward and leaves behind a trail to follow, as the club aspires to do.
This artwork reflects the Sydney Kings’ mission statement: “To relentlessly raise the bar of Basketball in Australia, every day in every way” – RISE WITH US!
The outer edge of this artwork symbolises the strong ancestral grounds on which the Kings represent. This deep legacy holds the strength and the resilience that is still present within all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today. This strength allows the current playing group to use this power and knowledge, to influence how they will honour those people and players from the past and present.
The inner part of the artwork symbolises the story that echoes this deep legacy. The white journey lines that connect to the centre meeting place symbol, channel all the strength and energy of those people and players from the past and present. The ‘U’ shaped symbols represent the people who continue to share the stories and ensure the legacy and the knowledge continues to move forward.
The centre meeting place represents where the story is right now. The story is continuing the rise of all that has come before and where it will be tomorrow!
The patterns on the side of the jersey are shell middens, found all over lutruwita as evidence of past hunting, gathering and food processing.
The nine circles represent the nine nations of lutruwita. Having them on the back is symbolic of the artist’s pride by ‘carrying’ the responsibility of sharing Indigenous culture. By subtly wedging the nine nations into the wavy stroke and even slightly disguising them amongst sponsor logos on the jersey, shows the hidden nature of the nine nations and how a lot of Tasmanian non-Aboriginal people aren’t aware of the past existence of these nations.
The Goodithulla’s (Eagle) represents McPherson’s Gukoo (Nana) and all her loved ones that have left earth for the dreamtime and are now watching over all of her family. The middle circle with the Goodithulla in it represents Gukoo Topsy and Country. All the smaller Goodithulla’s are all her Aunties and Uncles watching over her and all the outer circles represents her massive family who are on their own journeys but always being looked after, no matter what path or part of the world they are all in. The colours green and white represent the entire family always having a connection to country.
The Indigenous Round will encompass the eight games in Round 6 of the 2023-24 NBL season. Those games run from Thursday, November 2, to Monday, November 6.