Facebook page this week.....
"Do we boo or cheer Balls?"
It's not an unusual question considering our history of turning on some of our former champs, but in this instance it would be unjust. 36ers crowds went hard after Mark Bradtke and Julius Hodge for obvious reasons when they first returned to Adelaide but have been pretty good to those who left for understandable reasons (Wheeler, Blakemore, Holmes etc). To my understanding, Balls was offered a reduced contract to return to Adelaide and would likely have been given a bench role, something he was not prepared to accept when there were teams willing to "show the money" and offer playing time. It would also have been hard to cop after serving as the team's captain and 4 time MVP. Given his age, injury issues over the previous two seasons and the cold hard fact he didn't lead the team to much success in his MVP years, many sympathised with the 36ers position.
I was openly hoping he could have been brought back and I'm hoping he doesn't come back to haunt us (especially this week). Chris Anstey on Twitter has indicated he won't play this week, which is a massive shame as it would have added some extra interest to Adelaide's season opener. It will also have some Tigers fans nervous about his durability for the season. The Tigers frontcourt has plenty of toughness but not guys who can score like Balls can. I thought he would have been a great 6th man/first big man off the bench for Adelaide this year but hopefully Anthony Petrie fills that role well.
I'll be cheering for him if he does suit up and trusting he doesn't stomp on Brett Maher's signature, Julius Hodge style.