One of Basketball New Zealand’s long-standing awards is named after Sir Lance Cross, one of New Zealand basketball’s great personalities. Sir Lance Cross started his basketball career in 1931 while working for the YMCA, and by 1933 was the YMCA’s physical education director. From 1936 to 1939 he was the physical education specialist at Hamilton Technical School. He represented New Zealand and was President of the New Zealand Men’s Basketball Association from its inception in 1946 until 1971. He was also coach of the national team and he served as a vice president of the International Amateur Basketball Federation.
From 1939 he worked as a physical welfare officer with the Department of Internal Affairs, initially in Palmerston North, but later in Wellington. In this capacity he helped to lay down the principles of physical education in schools, teaching young New Zealanders about the worth of star-jumps, press-ups and other forms of activity on wintry school mornings. During the Second World War he spent three years as a physical education and recreational training officer, first in the Air Training Corps and then in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. After the war he became the Chairman of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, and was also Head of Sports Broadcasting for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation.
In 1969, he became New Zealand’s International Olympic Committee member, a position he held for 20 years. In 1973 Sir Lance was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to sports administration. He was later promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1977 New Year Honours, for services to sport as a member of the International Olympic Committee, and Chairman of the New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor for services to sport in the 1984 Queen’s Birthday Honours.