25 years of Leopards – season 4

It’s always hard to follow up a successful season, but after winning the BBL regular season crown and the National Cup, the newly renamed adidas Greater London Leopards did a pretty good job in 1997/98 as they retained the league title in dramatic style.
It was certainly a thrilling climax as Billy Mims side travelled to Sheffield knowing that they needed to equal or better Birmingham Bullets’ result at London Towers to lift the trophy again. Sky Sports cameras were at Sheffield Arena for the Big Cats game, but there was a camera at Wembley to film the scenes if Bullets won the title. Tower duly rolled over 67-65, and the Leopards’ game at Sheffield was on their big screen as both sets of fans clearly wanted Sharks to win. In took overtime – and we were special in extra periods with 11 wins in 12 such games in our two championship years and several possible heart-attacks – but a 106-102 saw emotional scenes as Robert Youngblood lifted the glass bowl for a second time.
The play-offs, however, proved to be a disappointment as after a win at eighth placed Manchester on a snowy April Thursday, Leopards somehow blew a big half-time lead in the game two at London Arena before also losing game three at home against a side who finished eighth in the table.
The season also saw the Big Cats play at the Brentwood Centre for the first, playing two league games at the venue which went on to be their home.