This morning, Stuff Sport published an article that states views critical of Basketball New Zealand for advertising the Head Coach position for the Tall Blacks.

The article cites three former Tall Black coaches. Although those views were not communicated to BBNZ directly, we understand why those coaches are concerned – all are passionate about the Tall Blacks and have worked closely with Coach Cameron over many cycles with the Tall Blacks. We understand they value the Tall Blacks Head Coach role greatly and may feel protective of it, so we can appreciate their concern about who might take the helm for the next cycle.

The article states a view that Basketball New Zealand has been disrespectful to Pero Cameron, which is upsetting. We understand the enormous respect the community has for Pero and appreciate they too may be upset by what is inferred by this piece.

To be clear, Basketball New Zealand has honoured the agreement with Coach Cameron entirely. The “rationale” for advertising the position is because the role simply cannot be handed to a person for a four-year cycle – a process must take place.

Advertising the position between Olympic cycles is expected by management, funders and other potential applicants. This open process is respectful of good practice. It also honours Basketball New Zealand’s promise of two years ago, when Coach Cameron was appointed, that the process would be followed and the cycle would be advertised.

To clarify, Coach Cameron’s one-year interim appointment was to retain consistency through to the end of the cycle after Paul Henare vacated the role after the 2019 World Cup, but before the end of the 2020 Olympic cycle. Coach Cameron was Assistant Coach to Henare. The interim appointment was extended to two years because of the disruptions and scheduled changes caused by COVID-19.

The disruptions of COVID-19 have greatly affected the high-performance programme and, consequently, Coach Cameron has only had the opportunity to coach less than half the games expected. One of those was with the difficult task of selecting a side from Australian-based Kiwis – ultimately that game qualified the Tall Blacks for the FIBA Asia Cup (which has been postponed for next year).

The Stuff article did not print Chief Executive Iain Potter’s supplied statement in full. As a result, we feel the article does not communicate our position clearly, so we are publishing that statement here:

“This open interview process follows best practice in sport. Anything less would be unfair to other aspirants who expect the opportunity to apply at the beginning of the new Olympic cycle. The process has integrity and is open for anyone to apply fairly and equally, so it prevents nepotism and it’s disappointing to hear anyone being critical of that.

“Additionally, Basketball New Zealand receives funding from High Performance Sport New Zealand and others, and has obligations to demonstrate good processes as required by these bodies. Any credible sports organisation runs an open process like this when appointing a senior national Head Coach. This same process was followed when Paul Henare was appointed in 2015 and when Guy Molloy was appointed to the Tall Ferns role in 2018.

“The selection panel has strong understanding of high performance sport and the requirements of a Head Coach for a national team programme. The process will also involve discussion with a number of senior players so that their views are factored in.

“Any critics are perhaps unaware that Pero’s agreement has been honoured entirely. He has always been aware the position would be advertised openly at the beginning of the new Olympic cycle, which is now upon us, and he has been invited to apply.”

– Iain Potter, Chief Executive Basketball New Zealand.

Furthermore, we would like to add that Basketball New Zealand management and staff have the upmost respect for Pero Cameron, not only as a coach and former player, but also as a person. We also acknowledge publicly that it’s been a tough period for Coach Cameron, having to ride the COVID-19 rollercoaster of postponed and cancelled events.