2001 - PLAY OFF CHAMPIONS
History in the making
Leicester Riders were founded on April 26th, 1967, and are the oldest professional club in British Basketball, having been founding members of the National Basketball League (NBL) in 1972 and the British Basketball League (BBL) in 1987.
They were originally known as the Loughborough All-Stars, and after the demise of Granby Halls, the club were forced to leave Leicester in the summer of 2000, taking up residence at Loughborough University for their home games, just a stone’s throw away from where the club played their first-ever game, at Victory Hall.
After finishing bottom of the Northern Conference, with just 10 wins from 36 games, the 2001/02 campaign proved to be a complete contrast as the Riders lifted their first pieces of silverware. Billy Mims’ team recorded an 84-82 victory against the London Leopards to lift the BBL Cup, finished fourth in the Northern Conference, and became the lowest ranked team to win the play- offs. Chester Jets and London Towers set up the final against Sheffield Sharks, where an 84-75 victory saw them complete the double.
Although the Riders struggled in subsequent years, the summer of 2004 did see them return to Leicester, as they entered into a deal with DeMontfort University, which would see the University’s John Sandford Sports Centre become the club’s home venue from September 2004 onwards. The next two seasons both saw the team experience play-off action, and they reached the BBL Trophy Final in 2006.
In 2007 the club came under new management, with the support of Midlands housing giant Jelson Homes, they saw in the start of a new era for the riders. In 2008 Rob Paternostro took over as head coach, recording the clubs highest ever league position and best ever win loss record. The American Italian won the Molten BBL Coach of the Year Award in his first season as a BBL head coach, as his team finished third in the regular season, and they had a dramatic last gasp quarterfinal play-off win over the Sheffield Sharks. They were defeated in the semi-final by Everton Tigers.
2012/13 proved the Riders most successful season to date, winning a historic treble. The side beat arch rivals Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Cup Final in front of a packed Birmingham NIA, and followed that with edging out their North-East counterparts to win both the BBL Championship title and the BBL Playoff Final at the Wembley Arena. Rob Paternostro was named as BBL Coach of the Year and Drew Sullivan was named most valuable player, with American point guard Jay Couisnard finishing runner-up. The Riders carried on their success, picking up 3 Championship titles, 3 trophy final wins and 2 play-off final victories from 2013 – 2018.
January 2016 saw the club move into the purpose-built Morningside Arena, which is owned by the Leicester Riders Foundation. Soon after winning the treble in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 season, the Riders applied to compete in the following Basketball Champions League season. The team were eliminated early on the in the competition by Danish side Bakken Bears, resulting in having to compete in the season’s FIBA Europe Cup. In that same season, they went on to win the play-off final at the o2 arena in front of 16,000 people.