The 40th season of New Zealand’s NBL men’s competition tips off on April 24 in Dunedin when the Otago Nuggets take on the Wellington Saints. To celebrate this milestone year, the Sal’s NBL formed a panel to do what seemed an impossible task: name and rank the 40 best players in the League’s history.
The Panel consisted of former Canterbury Rams and Tall Blacks coach Keith Mair ONZM; long-time servant of the Nelson Giants and former NBL board member Steve Fitchett; former Tall Blacks, Auckland, and New Plymouth Bears coach Steve McKean MNZM; Wellington Saints owner and overseer of the most successful franchise in League history Nick Mills; and former NBL player and New Zealand’s foremost basketball scribe Marc Hinton. The panel was chaired by Sky Sport commentator and NBL Media Manager Huw Beynon.
“We knew getting into it that this was going to be a really tough task, but a fun one. There are no right answers in an assignment like this, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of robust debate and a few raised voices!” said Beynon.
With any list of this ilk, the criteria to which the players are judged is vitally important.
“We decided the list should be based on how the individual player performed while in the league, that was our primary focus. After that we took into consideration their contribution to the league as a whole throughout their time as a player,” Beynon explains.
In 39 seasons since 1982, thirteen clubs have lifted the trophy, with a litany of superstars wowing crowds along the way.
“There are 40 amazing players on this list and believe me there are some incredible ones who didn’t make it. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of discussion, but also plenty of nostalgia for 40 years of great basketballers we’ve been lucky to watch here in Aotearoa,” added Beynon.
The list will be revealed week by week in the lead up to tip off of the Sal’s NBL 2021 Men’s season. Fans can find the list on stuff.co.nz starting on Wednesday March 24 when players ranked 40-31 will be revealed. The schedule over the coming weeks looks like this:
Wednesday March 24: 40-31
Wednesday March 31: 30-21
Wednesday April 7: 20-11
Wednesday April 14: 10-6
Wednesday April 21: 5-1
The Sal’s NBL tips off on April 24