The NBS Nelson Giants
The NBS Nelson Giants is the only team to have competed in the NBL every year since its inception in 1982, with the NBL and the Giants jointly celebrated 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 NBS Nelson Giants compete in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NBL) which in 2024 will be contested by 11 teams - Auckland Tuatara, Franklin Bulls, Taranaki Steelformers Airs, Property Brokers Jets, Taylor Hawks, Mills Albert Wellington Saints, Nelson Giants, Wheeler Motor Company Rams, Night n Day Otago Nuggets, Southland Sharks and the newest team in the league, the Whai, representing Bay of Plenty.
The NZNBL has been growing rapidly over the past few years, with strong and growing audiences thanks in large part to a strategic partnership with Sky Sport. This partnership has seen financial investment in the League and much greater exposure, with all games broadcast live on Sky Sport (and some free to air on Prime TV) and significant growth in the League's traditional and social media presence.
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 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 NBS Nelson 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.
We look after our bodies and minds by staying fit, eating well, resting and being drug and smoke free.
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.
We want everyone to love basketball as much as we do - everyone is welcome and included.
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.
In 2023 10 of our squad of 16 attended secondary school in the Nelson Tasman region. This is a proud tradition of the Giants - we want to win, and win with locals.
In partnership with the Basketball Development Nelson Trust, the NBS Nelson 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.
As well as coaching the NBS Nelson Giants, Michael Fitchett is employed by the Basketball Development Nelson Trust in a full year development role. This role involves 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 providing 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 Basketball Development Nelson Trust and our partnership to deliver community programmes, here.