Hungry Jack's NBL
Exum Talks SEM Ownership and Potential NBL Move
Cleveland Cavaliers and Australian Boomers guard Dante Exum has opened up on his involvement with the South East Melbourne Phoenix and a potential return to Australia playing in the NBL as part of the Club's Fireside Chats Q&A.
Exum joined the Phoenix ownership group alongside ex-NBA stars Zach Randolph, Al Harrington, Josh Childress and American entrepreneur and majority-owner Romie Chaudhari prior to the team’s inaugural season last year.
Growing up in Melbourne as a huge NBL fan and basketball lover, Exum is passionate about growing the game in his home country.
A lunch meeting with Romie Chaudhari in mid-2019 confirmed his commitment to seeing the Phoenix and the NBL reach the excitement levels he envisions.
“He (Chaudhari) heard my ideas with how I’d grow the league and I guess the passion I had for basketball and just seeing it grow in Australia, so he was like ‘I want you on board’,” Exum said.
“I couldn’t resist. It was a good opportunity to give back a little bit and also get involved.
“You want to bring guys in that are going to be exciting. You want people to come and watch exciting players. We have exciting players that bring that flair and that fun to the game that made me love it, made me watch the NBL when I was growing up.
“Even if it’s just guys that can dunk the ball, something little like that, people get excited for that. People are fascinated with something that as a spectator you can’t do.”
Despite his relentless NBA schedule overlapping with the NBL season, the Phoenix part-owner still manages to follow the team closely and loved what he saw in their first year.
Exum often tunes into games late at night whether on the road or in Cleveland to support the Phoenix and keep tabs with their progression.
“I tried to watch whenever I could. Obviously the time difference is a little tough, a lot of the games were right in the middle of the night but I was always waking up and watching highlights, box scores, whatever I could,” he said.
“I remember the Cairns game, I watched that game, it wasn’t on too late here. It was amazing how he (John Roberson) just came out and made shot after shot…I was ready to watch the next game, I was like ‘when are we playing next?’.
“I’m excited for the (NBL21) season, I think we’ll have a good year.”
Exum also addressed the question every Phoenix fan was dying to know in the live chat regarding whether playing for the Phoenix was in his long-term sights.
The 25-year-old has a long NBA career ahead of him but says the Phoenix is the only team he’d play for if he decides to return down under in the latter stages of his career.
“I’m going to play here (NBA) as long as possible and if it gets to that, where I want to come back and I want to play, there’d be no other team I’d go to, for sure,” Exum said.
“I’m all in with South East…we’ll cross that road when we get to it.”