The National Basketball League (NBL) is the pre-eminent men’s basketball league in New Zealand. The inaugural NBL season took place in 1982 – known then as the Countrywide Basketball League. Since the league’s inception, many household names and teams have graced the competition. Tall Blacks such as Stan Hill, Glen Denham and Peter Pokia all plied their trade in the competition in the early days. During the 1980s as the leagues credibility rose, American imports became a regular sight and added another dynamic to the competition. Kenny McFadden, Benny Anthony, Willie Burton, Angelo Hill along with many other imports all became regular names in the league.
Throughout the 1990s, players like Phill Jones and Pero Cameron became stars of the competition and in the late 1990s and early 2000s several stars in the making were honing their craft in the league. More recently we’ve been accustomed to seeing former and current Tall Blacks lining up for teams. Players such as Dillon Boucher, Lindsay Tait, Mika Vukona, Paora Winitana, and Paul Henare all became regulars in the league – as players and coaches. Many players have also used the league as a steppingstone onto greater things – Kirk Penney, Steven Adams and Torrey Craig have all gone on to play in the NBA whilst countless others have gone on to play in the Australian NBL and different European Leagues.
The Sal’s NBL is managed by Basketball New Zealand. Maree Taylor was named the General Manager of the League in January 2023.
During their time in the competition, the Auckland Stars were regularly the benchmark of the NBL. They held the record for the most championship wins until 2017 when the Wellington Saints claimed their 10th title. In 2019 the Wellington Saints added an 11th title following a perfect 20-0 season.
The 2023 Sal’s NBL season will feature 10 teams (Southland Sharks, Nelson Giants, Canterbury Rams, Wellington Saints, Manawatu Jets, Hawke’s Bay Hawks, Taranaki Airs and Franklin Bulls, Auckland Tuatara and Otago Nuggets).
Over the history of the league the league there has been a number of different teams participate – many of which became and remain iconic reminders of the NBL’s proud history. Below is a list of former and now defunct teams that have participated in the NBL at various stages since its inception:
Auckland Pirates (2011-2012)
Auckland Stars (1982-2009)
Christchurch Cougars (2009-2010)
Harbour Heat (1986-2010, 2012)
Hutt Valley Lakers (1990-1996)
Northland Suns (1995-1998)
Otago Nuggets (1990-2008, 2010-2014)
Southern Huskies (2019-2019)
Supercity Rangers (2013-2019)
Waikato Pistons (1982, 1984-2011, 2013-2014)
Waitakere Rangers (1990-1995)
Waitemata (1982-1983, 1988-1989)
At the conclusion of each season the NBL presents several awards that acknowledge teams, players and coaches for their respective accomplishments. Below is a list of current (and former) awards that are presented annually (all awards have been presented since the league’s inception in 1982 unless stated otherwise):