Hokianga's hip calls time
Kaine Hokianga has seen it all in a 14-year National Basketball League career.
But the veteran Manawatu Jets guard, who has played 234 games, is calling time after this season, a hip injury having affected him the past two years.
He will play in the Jets' final two games of the season against the Otago Nuggets at Arena Manawatu tonight and the Super City Rangers in Auckland on Sunday.
The 33-year-old tore the cartilage and meniscus in his hip playing in the Hoop Nation tournament in Whanganui in 2012.
It was recommended he only play one more season, but Hokianga, who has played for the Jets for 11 years, didn't want to end things after last year.
If he keeps going it could mean early arthritis and possibly an early hip replacement.
"I could risk damaging the hip further or just say I've had 15 years playing at the national league level and I've experienced a lot," he said. "For me it's around the right time to give it up."
Born in Whanganui, Hokianga lived in Waiouru before shifting to Dunedin, where he went to King's High School with NBL players Hayden Allen, Matt Gillan and Steven Robinson, who is also retiring this year.
Hokianga had two seasons for Otago before shifting to the Jets in 2003, where he's been every year except 2007, when he played for Taranaki.
"Making the move with the Jets in 2003 was an amazing experience. Coming from Otago in the bottom two or three teams, then I came up to the Jets and straight away I was in a winning team."
They reached the playoffs that year, but lost to Wellington in the semifinals.
Getting to the playoffs in 2012 under American coach Ryan Weisenberg was another highlight, where they lost to the star-studded Auckland Pirates in the semifinal.
One of Hokianga's favourite memories was back when they played in Arena 3 and were thrashing Waikato.
"Jeff Green was coaching them and to distract from the fact his team was getting a hiding, he came on the to the court and got ejected from the stadium.
"In those days the corporate bench was right behind the subs bench, and back then the crowd were so rowdy and a lady straight up threw a glass of wine all over Jeff Green."
Hokianga has been through a few "lean years" and said Manawatu never have the budget to compete with the bigger teams.
His worst year was 2008, his first as captain, when Australian airline OzJet withdrew their sponsorship on the eve of the season and Property Brokers had to come in and save the team.
The imports didn't know if they had a job and eventually saw Ben Hill shift mid-season to Hawke's Bay in 2009.
Hokianga said when Weisenberg took over in 2010, sponsorship picked up, crowds started coming back, they did more community work, and the team started winning.
"I've been able to see it all," Hokianga said. "Not the highest of high points, but we've had the team to potentially go and win championships, this year especially."
Hokianga is a teacher at Palmerston North Intermediate School so won't have to worry about life after basketball.
Manawatu Jets: Paul Jones, Brandon Jenkins, Nick Horvath, Jeremiah Trueman, Arthur Trousdell, Troy McLean, Nick Fee, Paul Bristol, Stephen Hansen, Matt Te Huna, Alonzo Burton, Kaine Hokianga.
Otago Nuggets: Mark Dickel, Micah Lepaio, Sam King, Brandon Bowdry, Warren Carter, Joseph Cook-Green, Tom Rowe, Tony Tolovae, Ollie Smith, Tom Ingham, Sheldon McGuire, Fergus Bevin-McCrimmon.
P W L F A Pts Hawke's Bay 17 14 3 1496 1360 28 Wellington 16 10 6 1406 1352 20 Southland 16 10 6 1459 1380 20 Nelson 17 10 7 1468 1411 20 Waikato 17 8 9 1368 1332 16 Manawatu 16 7 9 1389 1392 14 Otago 16 7 9 1344 1377 14 Waitakere 17 7 10 1537 1649 14 Canterbury 17 5 12 1463 1567 10 Taranaki 17 5 12 1386 1496 10