As he sat in the crowd as a teenager cheering on his beloved BP Bears, Scott Taylor fell in love with the game of basketball.
"Watching Willie Banks, Darren Shaw, Jacques Tuz doing his crazy stretching exercises, and Steve McKean larger than life doing his thing, that's where I grew to have a passion for the game," he said.
Although dabbling as a player in his teens, the 32-year-old says he eventually realised he was no Michael Jordan and chose to bounce in a different direction.
Aged 19, he set up the 99ers basketball club and remains their president today.
"I guess that was me taking up a different role in the game, once I realised I was rubbish at playing it," he laughed.
"I still loved it a lot, I just couldn't channel my love and enthusiasm for it on the court, so I moved into administration."
He's now chief executive of Taranaki Basketball, taking over from John Kensington, who departed this year after four years at the helm.
He says it's a role he is very enthusiastic about and plans to grab with both hands.
"JK did a tremendous job with his committee and volunteers, they did some really great things for the game and kept it afloat.
"The fan base we've got now is a credit to them and what beliefs they stood by."
Taylor is confident he and his team can take over from where Kensington left off.
"We've got a great committee this year who all share the same vision.
"They all come from various backgrounds in the game and have a shared passion for it."
The Steel & Tube account manager said his main objective was to raise the profile of the game in Taranaki and create more of a footprint in the community.
"The Coaching in Schools programme that Willie Banks runs is a big focus, as well as making sure the coaching we offer with the Mountain Airs is of a high standard.
"For me it's about developing the future. If we start developing today, young talent will move into the national leagues."
Happy faces at games were another priority.
"Getting people down to the games for an enjoyable evening - that's not just watching a game of basketball - that's a whole event which includes entertainment, halftime giveaways and all that jazz."
Taylor said the club has also been working with New Plymouth company Smokey Lemon to redo the website and logos for both the men's and women's teams.
The women have also been rebranded from the Taranaki Trojans to the Taranaki Thunder.
The Mountain Airs squad have been training for the past eight weeks under returning coach Dave Bublitz, and Taylor confirmed former coach Trent Adam would be taking over Darren Shaw's role as assistant coach for 2013.
The squad was not yet finalised but would include a good mix of local and outside players.
Nigerian-born American Suleiman Braimoh, currently training with the Boston Celtics D-League team, and shooting guard Jack Leasure have already signed as the team's two imports.
Taylor said more signings were imminent and he was extremely confident in the way the team was taking shape.
"We're getting the best quality players that we can and I've made sure the ones we do get really have a passion for coaching and teaching our young how to play the game. These people aren't just coming here to bounce balls, shake hands and kiss babies.
"They're here to help our young talent get better, as well as play for the region."
Taylor wants to spend a minimum of three years in the position and hopes his passion for the game will rub off on Taranaki.
"I'd really love the region to embrace this club as their club. The ultimate goal is to get it back to the BP Bears' days when everyone loved it. The people are still out there and they love the game, but for one reason or another some of them haven't been coming."
He admitted to being slightly nervous about taking on the role, but would address challenges as they arose.
"I had a boss once who was very instrumental in how I conduct myself today. He always told me if you take care of the little problems, there are no big problems. Of course I'm nervous, but nerves are good.
"They mean you care."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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