'A different direction' – London Lions general manager Brett Burman opens up on 'amicable' Vince Macaulay departure

'A different direction' – London Lions general manager Brett Burman opens up on 'amicable' Vince Macaulay departure

February 11, 2022

EYEBROWS were raised last month as British basketball legend Vince Macaulay departed his post as head coach of the London Lions.

For most, Coach Vince was synonymous with the Lions, having moved the team from Milton Keynes to East London's Copper Box, before taking charge of his beloved club.

But amid a slide in results and a need for a fresh voice the Lions, under the ambitious ownership of Miami-based 777, made the decision to amicably part ways with a man that will always be admired in the game.

Speaking to SunSport about how the decision was made, general manager Brett Burman was at pains to stress that things had gone down cordially and that there remains huge respect on both sides.

He said: "First of all, I want to make this very important point clear, we wouldn’t be in British basketball, wouldn’t be where we are, without him. Because of the integral part he played and has played in everything going forward.

"He's been instrumental to British basketball, growing the game and everything of that nature.

"I don’t think there’s a British basketball Hall of Fame, hypothetically speaking if there is or if they do create one – he’s someone that would undoubtedly be in it because of his impact and everything in the game."

On what led to the decision Burman, 34, then added: "The team was hot, the team was good but there’s ebbs and flows to everything. We went into a tough stretch, lost a handful of games, we were sliding in the domestic league and back and forth in Europe.

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"It’s one of those things, it’s just about direction and voice and change and in this industry – I’ve been on this end several times – when you go through the ebbs and flows you don’t really think too much about the why, it’s just more about ‘okay, we’re moving in a different direction’ and it was very, very amicable.

"Very friendly in the sense of ‘hey, here’s the direction we see things going, here’s the best fit for the programme’ and everyone can essentially take their best foot forward and move on."

The former Memphis Grizzlies personnel evaluator stressed: "This isn’t something where, if we’re not winning, we can take a five-year approach, like there really is no five-year approach. We want to win right now, we have expectations to go on and win."

Burman went on to confirm that the Lions, whose historic European run came to an end this week despite an impressive 82-75 win over Denmark's Bakken Bears, are in no rush to appoint a successor, with James Vear very likely to remain in charge for the remainder of the season.

We want to win the BBL, be a force in the BBL, be a force in Europe

On his hunt for Macaulay's long-term replacement, Burman said: "There’s going to be a lot of interest, because there already is – I get sourced by agents and colleagues and friends and people trying to pitch people and trying to say ‘here’s a guy' – which is natural, that’s just how the industry works."

Quizzed by SunSport if the next coach is likely to come from overseas, Burman said: "We have big ambitions, there’s no doubt about that. We want to win the BBL, be a force in the BBL, be a force in Europe, we want to accelerate how successful we can be from a basketball standpoint.

"So to answer your question, will it simply be solely we’re just going to look to America? No. It’s the best coach who can check all the boxes."

This season the likes of NBA vets Julian Washburn and Marquis Teague, as well as the impressive Isaiah Reese and Kylor Kelley have come from the US and hit the ground running in London.

And Burman believes that the Lions can find a niche as an attractive overseas market for American talent to come and play.

He said: "So the ambition really is, if you’re a player in a different market, let’s say you’re in a higher league and, in years past, we don’t know, this is just speculation – I don’t know if a player would look and say ‘okay I want to play for the London Lions, but I have an offer to go and play for a different team in Europe’.

"We want to change that narrative, we want a player to think ‘oh man, the second the London Lions are calling, this is great, this ticks every box’.

"Good league, good place, good town, good basketball, good resources – good everything. That takes time.

"First of all you’ve got to win. If you don’t win, I’m just speaking nonsense to you right now. Everybody wants to be with a winning organisation."

He concluded: "So our goal is to slowly climb that ladder and move into those markets.

"If someone can look and say okay, this is the London Lions, and they put everything together – the city, the team, the ownership, the crowd – being in London and we feel like that’s our secret sauce.

"That’s how we’re more attractive than going to a different country or somewhere else where they don’t feel that attraction."

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