Honour for ace reporter in bleak season
At least something positive has emerged from an otherwise underwhelming Nelson Giants national league season after Pete McNae was named basketball writer of the year on Saturday.
McNae has been the Nelson Mail's basketball reporter for 23 seasons and Saturday's award, presented during the National Basketball League finals weekend in Wellington, was the third time he has received the honour following his previous awards in 2001 and 2002.
Nelson Giants team manager Gary Williams accepted the award on McNae's behalf.
And while the Nelson Mail sports sub-editor admitted he would obviously have preferred to cover a winning Giants team this season, he said that sometimes adversity helped generate compelling news angles.
The Giants finished sixth this year with a six-win, 10-loss record.
"It was a tough year for the Giants," McNae said.
"The reality is that teams can't win all the time and it has been a down year; that's possibly given me a few more news stories and angles that I haven't had in the past when it's been fairly plain sailing.
"Obviously there was a bit of a ruckus with the Manawatu Jets failing to turn up for the first home game of the year and there was a story there and towards the end, some of the players were really candid about how distressed they were that things weren't going well.
"Sometimes, reporting on the high times all of the time becomes a little bit stale.
"I'm not saying I'd like to see the Giants lose on a regular basis, but yeah, there's definitely some personalities and angles that emerge which you don't normally see when things are going well."
He said the story that meant the most to him this year was an interview with Giants guard Ben Wright following the loss of his father, Greg, earlier in the season.
"He was very open and honest, it was very brave to do that interview so soon after his dad had died," McNae said.
"The sudden death had happened just before the season and Ben had been out for a month and because Josh Bloxham wasn't around, he was going to make his comeback and start at home.
"He'd credited the Giants and basketball community with helping him through a very tough time."
McNae said that despite their testing season, the Giants' organisation had still displayed plenty of character.
"It would be nicer to be part of a winning season for a team that I do invest a lot of time and interest in. I have a lot of respect for the people who have kept their heads up and kept working. The organisation have been very good."
McNae has also won 14 New Zealand speedway writer of the year awards.
The Nelson Mail