Simon Kerle: The NBL’s most controversial player ever
“A lot of people don’t realise how successful and important Shane’s career overseas was… and it’s kind of a shame” – Simon Kerle on the impact Shane Heal had in Europe.
He averaged 14 points over 381 games but never won an NBL Championship or even more surprising, never made a Boomers squad, despite being of the league’s top scorers in 2001, when he averaged 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game as a member of the Brisbane Bullets.
Instead of a champion, or Boomer, Kerle is often remembered as one of the most booed and controversial player in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Always controversial and entertaining to listen to, Simon had a chat with Aussie Hoopla host Dan Boyce about his NBL career, choosing to play at Western Nebraska instead of the AIS, If he thinks he got stiffed by not being able to play for the Australian Boomers, why Townsville fans are the best fans in the NBL, being spat on by South East Melbourne Magic import Clint McDaniel and why he chose to pose nude in a gay man’s magazine.
The son of Brisbane Bullets coaching legend Brian Kerle, Simon speaks about how that influenced his game growing up and what it was like learning from Brisbane Bullets legends like Leroy Loggins and Ron Radliff as a 16 year old rookie.
Kerle’s NBL path wasn’t easy, he struggled for court time for most of his early career, spending most of the time on the bench during stints with Westside Melbourne, Southern Melbourne, South East Melbourne and Geelong Supercats before his break out season in 1995.
Kerle boosted his scoring and minutes from 30 minutes and 11 points per game in his first year as a Supercat, to 35 minutes per game and 18 points per game in 1995. Sadly, Geelong exited the NBL in 1996, creating another hurdle for Kerle which prompted his move to the Townsville Suns.
Kerle’s decision to play in Townsville was influenced by longtime friend Shane Heal who believed that by playing with Derek Rucker he would develop into a much better player. Heal’s hunch was on the money, playing alongside Rucker in 1998 Kerle delivered another career best, averaging 18 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists per game. This included a career high 49 point night against the Kings in Sydney and narrowly missing out on the Boomers tour of America, that many feel he should have been on.
Kerle returned to play for the Brisbane Bullets in 1999 and remained there until retiring in 2005.
Kerle adds plenty of other musing on the podcast, including his belief that most people don’t understand how widely respected a player Shane Heal is worldwide and how Reggie Miller was angry when other NBA players told him Shane Heal was the best shooter on the planet.