NBL reinstates name of foundation club the Illawarra Hawks

The NBL has agreed to reinstate the name of foundation club, the Illawarra Hawks.

The league said the decision followed the Hawks reaching their membership target of 4379 this season and increased corporate support from the local community.

Disappointed by the lack of community investment and support, the NBL stripped the Hawks of their "Illawarra" branding as part of the sale to a new ownership consortium last year.

The league's vision was to expand the reach of the Hawks' footprint beyond the Illawarra region after the club made global headlines courtesy of No. 3 NBA draft pick LaMelo Ball's 2020 cameo.

But the move hit a nerve with the region's fans, who were then challenged to support the club in order for the name to return.

NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said: "Last November the owners of The Hawks approached the NBL and expressed their desire to reinstate the club's name to the Illawarra Hawks.

"The NBL indicated to The Hawks that we were prepared to consider this request if there was sufficient support from the Illawarra community to make the club a viable proposition into the future in the local market.

"Today we are pleased to announce that we have agreed to their request after they met their membership target this season and attracted increased corporate support from the local community.

"We have the utmost faith in the new owners and the hard work they are doing to build a strong club. They have brought back the NBL's most successful coach Brian Goorjian and enjoyed their best start to a season since 2013.

"This is a fantastic first step. But as the owners themselves have said, the club needs to build a long-term and sustainable future and we encourage everyone across the Illawarra region to get out and support the Hawks.

"We will continue to monitor their progress and work closely with the owners and management of the Illawarra Hawks and look at all opportunities to grow the club and ensure its long-term viability in the NBL."

Illawarra Hawks president and co-owner Dorry Kordahi said: "We thank the NBL for all of its support since we took over the club last June. Larry Kestelman has backed us to rebuild the club and we are very appreciative of everything he and the team at the NBL have done to help make this happen.

"Most of all we want to thank all of our fans and corporate partners who have supported us during this period. We couldn't do this without them and we encourage all people across the Illawarra region to get behind the club and ensure its long term viability."

The Hawks (4-1) won their first four games on the road under their new coach Goorjian and will play at Wollongong's WIN Entertainment Centre for the first time this season on Wednesday.