The Giants

The Nelson Giants is the only team to have competed in the NBL every year since its inception in 1982:  the NBL and the Giants will therefore jointly celebrate their 40th season in 2021.  The Giants have a proud history, winning in 1994, 1998 and 2007, and making the grand final on 8 other occasions.  The team has a strong record of developing local players and coaches, including current Tall Blacks star Finn Delany and former players Mika Vukona, Phill Jones, Nenad Vucinic and Michael Fitchett.  The Giants have always enjoyed strong community support and Nelson is known as a ‘basketball town’, both due to its passionate fans and its legacy of producing and incubating basketball talent.

The Nelson Giants team was founded by the Nelson Basketball Association in 1982 before being transferred to private ownership in 1993.  In 2017, the team was gifted by its last private owner, former Nelson Giants and Tall Blacks player and coach, Nenad Vucinic, to the Basketball Development Nelson Trust, to ensure the Nelson Giants remains an asset for the community and continues to grow local Giants and fans. 



The Nelson Giants compete in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NBL) which in 2021 will be contested by 10 teams - Auckland, Franklin, Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.


The NZNBL has been in a period of growth since 2017 when management returned to BBNZ and Justin Nelson was appointed CEO.  The NZNBL is broadcast live on Sky Sport and on stuff.co.nz, with strong and growing viewership across both platforms.


After competing in an Auckland-based ‘bubble’ in 2020 due to Covid-19, the NZNBL will return to it’s traditional format this year. Teams play each other twice in a home and away format commencing in April, with the season culminating in a Final Four playoff in July.


Our Game

Aside from being fast paced, edge-of-your seats entertainment, indoors (so warm and dry) and fun for the whole family, why do we love basketball so much and what does it offer our community?

Growth:  Basketball is the fastest growing sport in New Zealand - projected to be number 1 in 2 years.

Access:  There are low barriers to entry, the only equipment needed is a ball and a court.

Health:  Informal participation is easy and popular, promoting fitness and health in our community.

Social:  Promotes team work and can be used as a vehicle to promote other positive social messages.

Reach:  Basketball is a truly global sport and reaches across all ethnic and socio economic groups.

Opportunity:  Basketball offers unique educational opportunities to young players via US College scholarships.

Our Strategy

Our purpose is to grow basketball in Nelson-Tasman.  In order to do this, we have the following strategic goals, developed jointly with the Basketball Development Nelson Trust:

Drive a Love of the Game

Leverage the Giants’ profile and brand to introduce new fans and players to basketball.

Get Kids Hooping

Drive participation and lift the standard of play in Nelson, at all levels

Be Giants in Basketball

Develop champion players and teams in the Nelson-Tasman region.

Protect the Rim

Protect and enhance Nelson’s basketball legacy through sound governance and management.


Being a Giant - Be like MIKA

The Giants have always had a strong emphasis on team culture and being good role models in our community.  We have five key values which will underpin our recruitment and which we aim to model to our fans. 

Be Healthy

We look after our bodies and minds by staying fit, eating well, resting and being drug and smoke free.


Team First

We focus on a common goal, we seek and accept coaching, support team mates and be unselfish.


Respect the Game

There is no game without teammates, opponents, coaches, officials, administrators or fans - we respect them. 


Be Inclusive

We want everyone to love basketball as much as we do - everyone is welcome and included.

Give Back

We give to the game that gives to us -  we support our local associations and youngest players.

These values are embodied by one of our club legends:  Mika Vukona.  Mika was a fierce competitor and left everything out there, but always respected the game and gave so much to the community and basketball.  We want our next generation of players to know what it means to Be like Mika!

Your Local Team

We are committed to growing Giants both at the elite level and at the grassroots level.


As outlined above, the Giants have been an out and out breeding ground for Tall Blacks. Legends such as Phill Jones and Mika Vukona are club stalwarts, but many others such as Finn Delany, Nenad Vucinic, Josh Bloxham, Mike Karena, Mike Fitchett, Judd Flavell, Brad Riley, Tony Rampton and many more all earned Tall Black honours while representing the Giants.


In 2021 10 of our squad of 14 attended secondary school in the Nelson Tasman region. This is a proud tradition of the Giants - we want to win, and win with locals.


The Giants have been delivering the ‘Giants in Schools’ coaching programme to local primary schools for over 30 years. Basketball NZ’s ‘Kiwihoops’ programme was based on the Giants in Schools programme. This programme drives participation in the region and gives local kids the chance to interact with their Giants heroes.

Michael Fitchett has also been recruited by the Basketball Development Nelson Trust into a full year development role.  This role will involve provision of coaching, mentoring and educational and basketball goal setting to our top young basketballers, as well as coach development.

Having benefited from extensive one on one coaching with Nenad Vucinic as a junior player, and having coached and managed the Breakers Academy in Auckland, Mike is passionate about rebuilding a development pathway in Nelson for both players and coaches.  He has seen how the Breakers developed a generation of basketball talent by promoting participation and supporting top players through the Academy programme.  He is pleased to bring this experience to Nelson and provide the foundation for success for years to come. 

Learn more about our Community Programme here.

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