Wildcats and Taker: Streaks are made to be Broken

April 6th, 2014. Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans, Louisiana.

75 thousand people stood in shock. Silenced by the arrival of something that was never thought to happen. You could hear a pin drop.

A streak was broken. The ageing gunslinger left for dead. Concussed as the sea of people merely became an afterthought as he forgot what happened.

For what lasted for nearly a quarter of a century, was now broken. For 21 years he had overcome every obstacle, every setback, every injury to continue on. And now it was gone.

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak. One massive storyline that lasted 22 years.

As he evolved over the years from spooky funeral official to dead-man to American who really likes motorbikes to the ageing gunslinger, the streak evolved with him to.

What was never thought about for the first ten years, was brought into the limelight. ‘The Streak’ became this insurmountable task. Something that if you broke it, you would become immortal. It would be bigger than winning a championship.

Legend killers, giants and kings all tried to break it, but it would never be broken. Until that fateful night in New Orleans when a beast conquered it.

“Now Jackson,” I hear you ask. “What does this have to do with basketball?” as you type away on your keyboard.

Let’s look into the [potential] future, shall we?

April 24th, 2022. RAC Arena. Perth, Western Australia.

13 thousand people stand in silence as what was thought to be impossible occur in front of their eyes.

Players, coaches, staff, and fans are left in shock as another streak dies. This time, a real streak.

For just over a third of a century, the Perth Wildcats have made finals every single season. Now, that streak is in real jeopardy.

For the past 35 years, they have overcome injuries, underperforming import signings, coaching changes and almost impossible margins to make finals every single season.

But why am I writing this? Why am I comparing something that is ‘scripted entertainment’ to a real sporting scenario?

I think it can be summed up with this one simple sentence.

Streaks are made to be broken!

The word “Streak” is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as “a period of time during which something continues to happen, for example to go up or down in value or to succeed or fail.”

Streaks can be over a couple of days, games, months and in this case, seasons.

Streaks always come to an end. Whether it be the Oakland Athletics’ 20 game win streak in the 2002 MLB season (as depicted in the movie Moneyball) or Ash Barty’s 114 week streak as world no. 1, they all end.

There are three certainties in life.

  1. Death
  2. Taxes
  3. Streaks will be broken

Not one thing in life will continue on forever. People, teams, front offices and ownerships come and go. They change, they evolve so that they won’t be left behind when others do the same.


Look at Taker. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, he found that his spooky cult-leader character was out of touch. Newer audiences didn’t like him as much as they did previously. So what did he do?

He changed. While yes, ‘Biker Taker’ wasn’t the most loved era of the phenom, it was a necessary change to revitalise his career.

Perth this last off-season went under big changes. New coach for the first time in eight years, new ownership for the first time in over a decade and a new look front office. Even Wilbur changed his look.

While familiar people have stayed around, players like Cotton, Wagstaff and Norton to just name a few and CEO Troy Georgiu, you can see the shift the organisation has taken on and off-court.

Were the changes from Gleeson to Morrison and Bendat to Sport Entertainment Network (SEN) really necessary? No. But it had to be made.

Perth wasn’t going to hold Gleeson hostage for another season and not release him to Toronto. Bendat was looking to offload the club for a while, even prior to COVID. It was just unfortunate that it happened at the same time.

36-0 or 35-1

Back to streaks.

Teams aren’t going to win forever. The law of averages suggests that winning teams will have a period in which they lose. It just happens, you can’t stop it.

But it’s how long the streak lasts which make it impressive, and Perth are still pushing to extend it.

For the streak to end, this needs to happen;

  • Perth lose to Illawarra on Friday
  • Tasmania beat Melbourne United on Saturday
  • Perth lose to South-East Melbourne on Sunday

For the streak to continue, this needs to happen;

  • Perth beat one of Illawarra or South-East Melbourne, or
  • Tasmania lose to Melbourne United on Saturday

While it is mathematically possible for Tasmania to still make finals if Perth only win one game this round, it is a near impossible margin they would need to make in percentage.

Undermanned and Underprepared

Now with the season-ending injury to the league’s 3rd leading scorer Vic Law, Perth do look like an undermanned side. Just like last season, one of their star players are going to be out, but it is how they adapt which will prove if they are legit or not.

Last season, then head coach Trevor Gleeson galvanised the playing group after the injury to 3x MVP Bryce Cotton. The ‘next man up’ mentality of the Wildcats made them go all the way to the Grand Final and fight to the very end against United’s might of Landale, Hopson and Goulding.

This season hasn’t been without disruption. The injuries to Mitch Norton, Michael Frazier II and Matt Hodgson, the John Brown III saga, the 14-game road trip and the delayed pre-season as an entire group with Morrison’s VISA issues have shocked the Wildcats. But they haven’t broken just yet.

Perth are not The Undertaker. The Wildcats are not an ageing gunslinger whose glory days were from decades gone by. They are a well-oiled machine that has stalled due to the replacements of some parts.

But there is one thing that can be linked from this ‘comparison’. When that day comes when their finals streak is broken, the team(s) that break it will write their names into the history books.

Whether it be this week, next season, five years’ time, a decade’s time, whenever. The only constant in the NBL’s 40+ year existence will be buried. They will become… a Deadman.

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