Basketball is a fast-moving sport played on an indoor court. Two teams of five try to score by shooting a ball through a hoop (called a basket). In 2020 Basketball New Zealand was the national organisation.
- The national women’s team is the Tall Ferns and the men’s team is the Tall Blacks.
- The New Zealand Breakers, based in Auckland, play in the professional men’s Australian National Basketball League.
In 2008 basketball had the 17th-highest participation rate of sport and recreational activities, with 6.3% of adults playing it in the previous 12 months.
Basketball was invented by James Naismith, a Canadian, in 1891. His former student, J. H. Greenwood, introduced the game to New Zealand when he became physical director of the Wellington YMCA in 1908. From the 1920s the YMCA and YWCA network helped spread basketball, often helped by American Mormon missionaries. The first national tournament was held in Wellington in 1938.
National women’s and men’s organisations were set up in 1945 and 1946. Mormons continued to influence the game and improve player skills and coaching.
Later 20th century
From 1968 New Zealand competed with Australia every two years to decide which country would represent Oceania in the Olympic Games and the world championships. In 1978 New Zealand beat Australia for the first time.
Basketball boomed in the 1980s. A national men’s league began in 1981 and a national women’s league in 1986.
1990s to 2000s
In the early 1990s the national leagues struggled to find sponsorship, and audiences shrank. However, the national sides played more matches, and the Tall Ferns reached the 1994 world championship. In 2002 the Tall Blacks, coached by Tab Baldwin, finished fourth in the world championship. However, both teams had mixed results over the next few years. The New Zealand Breakers have competed in the Australian National Basketball League since 2003, winning it in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.