For fans of basketball in New Zealand, the NBL offers a professional league where games are televised and fans can attend live games. The professional men’s league is made up of 8 clubs that were in the 2015 season. The teams were based on various locations throughout New Zealand, including Napier, New Plymouth, Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Nelson, Palmerston and Invercargill. In this league, there is a limit in regards to how many players can be imported. The rules state that there is a limit of two players, which usually come from the United States. There is also a rule that limits teams to one naturalised player from New Zealand.
Over the years, the quality of play in the league has drastically improved. Some believe it to be a direct result of having US players on the teams. Many of the New Zealand players in the NBL move up to play in the ANBL as well as in college basketball games held in the United States. A number of former NBL players are now in the NBA in the US. Two New Zealand players that did make it to the NBA are Steven Adams and Kirk Penney.
As the years went on, the league gained more attention and was widely televised, with almost every game being available on the airways. Big city teams dominated the league as they had the star players. This changed in 1991 and 1993 when the Hutt Valley Lakers won the league championship. That marked the time that star players started to spread out to other teams. The Rebels were the first NBL team to win three titles in a row from 1995 to 1997. The league improved even more and many players became household names, including Pero Cameron, Dillon Boucher, Mark Dickel and Phill Jones.
During the season, 10 teams play 19 games in the regular season and each team will play each team at their home arena and one at the opponents arena/ When the regular season ends, the top team will play the fourth ranked team and the second will host the third. The winners of these semi finals will move on to the grand final. The winner of this will be deemed the title champs. Since the beginning of the NBL, Auckland has been the top ranked and most popular team. This team has won 10 titles, the most of any team in the league. Wellington comes in next with 8 title wins, followed by Canterbury and Waikato, both with four wins.
Despite the growth of the league and the increase in attention, it is still a small league and players are striving to get a contract with the ANBL. Most players in the NBL are playing with the hopes of getting called to another league with more teams, more presence and much more in regards to wages and salaries.
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