FMC: When did you start playing basketball and what drew you to the sport.
I started playing when I was 8 years old. My mum was a good basketball player and got me into the sport, she was also my first coach.
FMC: New Zealand is a country dominated so heavily by Rugby, do you feel basketball has gained ground since the past success of the Breakers in recent years and players like yourself, Kirk Penney and now Steven Adams or does it still lurk in the shadows a bit?
Basketball has definitely increased in popularity in recent years. I think the first big leap came in 2002 when the Tall Blacks finished 4th at the world champs. I remember watching that as a youngster and being captivated by how amazing those guys were. Then the success of the Breakers really took things a step further again as now we were having success on our own door step and people were discovering what an amazing spectator sport it could be. That was when I really noticed a change in how popular basketball was becoming and how recognisable the Breakers brand in NZ was becoming. It was a great feeling to know we were inspiring kids all throughout NZ to get into the sport and now these days with Steve doing so well in the NBA the excitement around basketball has never been higher.
FMC: What has been the highlight of your basketball career so far?
The first championship with the Breakers was definitely a highlight. We were the first NZ team to win an Australasian sporting comp and that was a pretty cool feeling. Playing at the world champs I'm 2010 in Turkey and 2014 in Spain were standouts as well.
FMC: What has been the toughest thing you've gone through as a player? Was it an injury, being cut from a team when you were younger, maybe a goal that took you longer to reach than you wanted?
I spent two years at Washington State in the US on a basketball scholarship. It was a huge change for me going over there and I struggled to adjust to the way they played over there and life away from home. After two years riding the pine my coach sat me down and told me he thought I should transfer to a different school. I'd had a hard enough time getting used to things there so I decided to come home at this point. This was a real cross roads for me, my confidence as a basketballer was low and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I was lucky the Breakers encouraged me to keep playing as a development player, and the environment at the club completely restored my passion and love for the game. The culture at the club really inspired me to improve as a player and believe in myself and I've been very lucky to go to have some great moments and success with the club.
FMC: What was your thought process after that failure, that allowed you to keep playing and further your career to the point you are at now.
I didn't want to sell myself short. I knew I had a tough time in college but I also knew I still loved the game and had the potential to be great. I wanted to at least give myself that chance to be successful so I worked as hard as I could in that environment to do so. I was very lucky to be surrounded by some great team mates and coaches during that time.
FMC: In your career so far who has been the toughest player you have ever had to guard either domestically (NBL) or internationally. For us at home who sit on the couch can you provide us an insight into an example of what it's like to guard such a player?
Internationally it was probably James Harden. We matched up at the last world champs and I remember them running a backdoor play for him to start the second half. He had me totally beat but they didn't pass him the ball. Next play down they run the same thing and I know exactly what he's going to do. He still beats me completely and dunked all over one of my team mates!
FMC: What was your experience like with that stint in the NBA Preseason Camps? And what was the toughest part about trying to crack that domain?
The NBA mini camps and summer league are a tough place to stand out. They are filled with players all trying to make an impression and often teams are only looking for one certain type of player or no one at all. The toughest part was trying to find a way to show what I could do in an environment where everyone was in it for themselves. It didn't really suit the type of player I am but it was still an amazing opportunity to train at some incredible clubs and against some great talent.
FMC: Who you got in your top 5?
FMC: Who is or was (if they're not playing anymore) your favourite player to watch?
Reggie Miller was my hero growing up. I loved watching him play, an incredible shooter and competitor.
FMC: So often we here about the players and their achievements but often not about those behind them. Have you had any particular coaches or role models whose words or actions have stuck with you as a player and as a person?
Both my parents have been great role models for me growing up. They have been incredibly supportive throughout my whole career and encouraged me in the good times and bad. Andrej Lemanis is probably the coach who had the biggest impact on my career. He really believed in me as a youngster and gave me my first opportunity with the breakers. I think a lot of my development in my early twenties was down to his coaching.
FMC: Do you see yourself taking on a coaching role at all after your hang your shoes up?
I never thought I would but as I get a bit older it is something I have thought about. I'm still undecided but it is certainly a possibility.
FMC: For all the younger kids aspiring to be a Tall Black or play in the NBL and beyond and SEABL do you have any words of advice?
Never be content with where you are at. You may be the best in your team but there's always someone better. You may be the best in your country but you find out when you go overseas there's always someone better. There's always room to improve.