National Basketball League (New Zealand)
|Most recent season or competition:
2016 New Zealand NBL season
Basketball New Zealand Logo
|No. of teams||7|
|Continent||FIBA Oceania (Oceania)|
|Wellington Saints (9th title)|
|Most titles||Auckland Pirates (10 titles)|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Official website||New Zealand NBL|
Despite financial woes forcing a number of teams over the past decade to fold, the quality of play in the league continues to improve, evidenced by more New Zealand players going on to play in the Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) and college basketball in the United States. Some have even gone on further to make the NBA, such as Steven Adams, and former North Harbour Kings star Kirk Penney. The league has a limit of two imports per team with many of the imports coming from the United States. The league also only allows one naturalised New Zealand player per team.
In the league's early days, Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury dominated the competition. By the mid-1990s, Auckland and Nelson were the teams to beat, with New Zealand basketball legends Pero Cameron and Phill Jones dominating during this era for Auckland and Nelson, respectively. Auckland and Waikato dominated during the 2000s, but with Auckland's departure following the 2012 season, the door was left open for Wellington and Southland to fill the void of the league's premier teams.
Through the 1970s, basketball games in New Zealand were organised between neighbouring representative teams, or in annual tournaments organised as club or provincial national tournaments. Other competitions were also held during Easter tournaments or in small regional leagues. The Countrywide Basketball League began in 1982 in response to a need for consistent and quality competition on a semi-professional basis, to match the structure and improvements occurring in Australia. Tall Blacks such as Stan Hill, Dave Edmonds, Glen Denham, Byron Vaetoe, Peter Pokai and Tony Smith were important cogs during the early years of the competition. However, Americans dominated the league during the 1980s. Imported players like Clyde Huntley, Angelo Hill, Frank Smith, Kerry Boagni, Willie Burton, Ronnie Joyner, Benny Anthony, Tyrone and Tony Brown, and Kenny McFadden added a level of sophistication and style to the Kiwi basketball scene.
The big city teams such as Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington dominated in the early years, but when the Hutt Valley Lakers won 1991 and 1993, the star players began to spread out. The Nelson Giants won their first championship in 1994 and Auckland became the first team to win three titles in a row from 1995–97. After the Waitakere Rangers, Hutt Valley Lakers and Northland Suns left in the late 1990s, the league's level of competitiveness took a hit.
The mid-1990s saw a shift in the skill level of the New Zealand players. Star players like Pero Cameron and Phill Jones began to lead their respective squads to success, as teams began to rely more heavily on New Zealanders than ever before. By the early 2000s, the league implement the one-import rule so as to limit the American domination on the league, and with the formation of the New Zealand Breakers in 2003, Kiwi players found an incentive to continue playing in the NZNBL in hopes of being rewarded with an ANBL contract. Players like Pero Cameron, Phill Jones, Dillon Boucher, Lindsay Tait, Mika Vukona, Pāora Winitana and Paul Henare became household names in New Zealand and Australian basketball circles.
|Canterbury Rams||Christchurch||Cowles Stadium||1982||Mark Dickel|
|Hawke's Bay Hawks||Napier||Pettigrew Green Arena||1983||Kirstin Daly-Taylor|
|Nelson Giants||Nelson||Trafalgar Centre||1982||Tim Fanning|
|Southland Sharks||Invercargill||Stadium Southland||2010||Judd Flavell|
|Super City Rangers||Auckland||AUT North Shore||1990||Jeff Green|
|Taranaki Mountainairs||New Plymouth||TSB Stadium||1985||Ross McMains|
|Wellington Saints||Wellington||TSB Bank Arena||1983||Kevin Braswell|
Former and defunct teams
- Auckland Pirates (1982–2009, 2011–2012)
- Centrals (1982–1985)
- Christchurch Cougars (2009–2010)
- Harbour Heat (1986–2010, 2012)
- Hutt Valley Lakers (1990–1996)
- Manawatu Jets (1982, 1985–1987, 1989–2015)
- Northland Suns (1995–1998)
- Otago Nuggets (1990–2008, 2010–2014)
- Ponsonby (1984–1988)
- Porirua (1982–1983)
- Waikato Pistons (1982, 1984–2011, 2013–2014)
- Waitemata (1982–1983, 1988–1989)
Imports in the league
The New Zealand NBL allows each side to play with two non-New Zealand citizens (imports or restricted players). From 2001 to 2003, however, the league believed that overseas players were detracting from giving New Zealand-born players significant minutes and playing time in the league and as a result, one import only was permitted per side. In the past, the NBL sides have usually relied on Americans to fill their import player positions. In 2004, the trend of using American imports started to change with New Zealand gaining an ANBL side in the New Zealand Breakers. Many of the NZNBL teams began to use Australians as their imports, as the ANBL does not run at the same time as the NZNBL.
New Zealanders in the league
Many New Zealanders who play for the New Zealand Breakers and the national side, the Tall Blacks, have played in the NBL since its inception. In recent years, many of these players have dominated in the local New Zealand league. Examples have been Dillon Boucher, Lindsay Tait, Aaron Olson, Paul Henare, Pāora Winitana, Pero Cameron, Mark Dickel, Phill Jones, Ed Book, Thomas Abercrombie, Alex Pledger, Mika Vukona and Corey Webster.
In March 2016, Basketball New Zealand, the NZNBL, and New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) announced that two weekly NBL games will be livestreamed free of charge on NZHerald.co.nz throughout the 2016 season.
List of Champions
During its time in the competition, Auckland was the benchmark of the NBL. They have won the most titles out of any team: 10. Next best is Wellington with 9, then Canterbury (4), Waikato (4), Nelson (3), Hutt Valley (2), Southland (2), and Hawke's Bay (1).
- Most Valuable Player
- NZ Most Valuable Player
- Final Four MVP
- Most Outstanding Guard
- Most Outstanding NZ Guard
- Most Outstanding Forward
- Most Outstanding NZ Forward/Centre
- Scoring Champion
- Rebounding Champion
- Assist Champion
- Rookie of the Year
- Coach of the Year
- All-Star Five
- Best Team Free Throws
- Australian National Basketball League (ANBL)
- Conference Basketball League (CBL) – defunct second-tier league
- List of National Basketball League (New Zealand) awards
- New Zealand Tall Blacks
- 2016 NBL Draw Released, Includes One Live Streamed Game A Week
- Pirates out of 2013 NBL
- Manawatu Jets out of 2016 basketball league
- Nuggets pull out of NBL
- Basketball: Otago Nuggets targeting NBL comeback in 2017
- Waikato Pistons out of 2012 national league
- Waikato Pistons pull out of NBL competition
- THE NEW ZEALAND NBL TO BE BROADCAST LIVE AND FREE ON NZHERALD.CO.NZ
- 2015 Bartercard NBL Handbook (p. 31)