British basketball has been drinking in the Last Chance Saloon for so long that it awaits a liver transplant.

Even that might not immediately restore it to full health.

To many, it is the tragic character, propped up on the corner stool, immune to multiple therapeutic treatments, no longer deemed worth assisting, they cry, until it helps itself.

As much pitied as scorned. In reality, such a waste.

And while some might say the decline into the abyss began in 2013 when Lottery funding was withdrawn by UK Sport, the truth is that there were notable symptoms of instability as far back as 2005 when the concept of a shared purpose and a unified national team were originally floated.

They shared a toast then. But little else, as it transpired.

The news that the British Basketball Federation arrived this month on the verge of financial – indeed, total – ruin is merely one more symptom of the sport’s extraordinarily tendency for self-harm, one born of factionalism and of flippancy when it comes to matching brave words with astute deeds.

Anyone who thought that the establishment in 2016 of a primary governing body with responsibility for all it surveys – while acquiring the membership of FIBA – would signal a brave new world has been sorely mistaken.

It remains needlessly impotent, primarily due to a lack of solid funding which has now been heightened once more by Sport England’s decision not to renew its previous £1 million, three-year support package.

But the BBF, and its admirable chief executive Lisa Wainwright, has been undermined by those who are supposed to strengthen its foundations – time and time again.

Above all, by a Basketball England whose chief executive is perceived to have placed the construction of his own empire above building long-term security for the sport. But also by individuals whose intentions may be pure but their contributions anything but.

Before Christmas, representatives from England, Scotland and Wales were tasked with writing a discussion paper that might set out how to achieve both a greater unity of purpose and potential economies of scale. Its remit was also to examine how further powers – and resources – might be centralised at BBF in the name of efficiency.

At board level, despite the inevitable nervousness when radical change is called for, it is understood there was a guarded welcome to the ideas put forth. Doing more with less, especially at a time when the public purse is squeezing funding for sport, is essential.

Greater integration makes sense when the elite end of basketball – national teams and league – is accomplished on a British level.

One point of contact, one voice, one conduit when sponsors come calling, one strategy rather than competing avenues.

It has, multiple sources say, received little firm assistance from Basketball England via Stewart Kellett, its CEO whose individualist approach has won few friends.

Notably, it is thought that he was not involved in the discussions which pulled the BBF back from the financial precipice in recent weeks. Doubts linger over whether he can remain in his post if calls are answered to give the federation the backing it needs to flourish.

Which it must.

Basketball’s limitless potential has never been fully exploited. Divided. Not conquering.

Sure, fingers can be pointed at the shabby way it has been treated by successive UK governments and by UK Sport. That its ability to reach minorities, to promote health, to offer inspiration and, yes, to capitalise properly on the athletic talent available in this country, has never been properly recognised.

But any strong ecosystem must have a central organ to keep an equilibrium in place. One capable of giving direction rather than begging upon deaf ears.

Not just towards the national governing bodies either.

The BBL’s licence is supposed to be overseen by the BBF but there are precious few resources available to the federation to properly police what was supposed to be a bright new era. Clubs demanding pay cuts from players mid-season, teams failing dismally to meet the necessary standards, can still escape without reproach.

As someone remarked to me this week of the governing body: “they are in office, but not in power.”

It cannot continue. Not the uncertainty. Not the impotence. Not the short-termism. Not the enabling from happy-clappy cheerleaders. Not the inertia.

There must be streamlining and co-operation, even if it brings jobs lost en route.

Self-interest must be banished in favour of progress and real, sustainable development.

For over a decade, promises of a new dawn have repeatedly been made – and broken.

British basketball deserves better. We would all drink to that.

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