League manager pleased with higher profile achieved in first year

Justin Nelson's goal was to increase the national basketball league's "relevancy and legitimacy".

It is something he feels has "exceeded expectations" in his first year as general manager.

It is also something he hopes to keep growing.

Alongside increasing media profile and getting games back on television, the league had put time into improving its governance and attracting long-term partners.

As participation and interest in basketball continues to grow, he hoped to continue making the sport's top end more accessible throughout the country.

That included getting all 75 games broadcast on Sky Sport next year.

It was part of his fans-first mindset.

"I think what we're doing now is we're making it more accessible," he said.

"We're exposing it more through television and our media partnerships, through making players available to meet the fans after games.

"I think the passion and support for the NBL has always been there.

"I think what we're doing now is showcasing a better product, a more relevant and legitimate product.

"We're being seen on television.

"Our Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns are playing more regular games on home soil.

"We're ensuring elite level basketball is more accessible to the legion of fans in this country."

His end goal was to reach a point where arenas were selling out and fans were unable to get tickets.

He said NBA star Steven Adams was doing a great job in raising the sport's profile.

He felt that was comparable to what Andrew Bogut did in the 2000s, as Australia's only NBA player.

Since then the sport has grown across the Tasman.

It now has a dozen players in the world's top league, while its NBL has also grown exponentially.

Nelson felt that was possible in New Zealand, too.

He hoped to do similar things with national women's league, which he has also recently been charged with managing.

A key new feature of that league would be a development competition to run beneath the top tier.

Something similar was planned for the men's NBL.

Nelson hoped a development league could be running as early as 2021, providing more opportunity for New Zealand players.

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