Basketball NZ nab their ‘game-changer’ in NBA trailblazer Chelsea Lane

Chelsea Lane worked closely with NBA great Stephen Curry during his time with the Golden State Warriors.

Noah Graham

Chelsea Lane worked closely with NBA great Stephen Curry during his time with the Golden State Warriors.

Basketball New Zealand believe they’ve nabbed a “game-changer” in Kiwi NBA trailblazer Chelsea Lane to head their high performance program.

Lane, Australia-born, but now a proud Kiwi, was unveiled on Tuesday as the organization’s new high performance head, succeeding the departed Leonard King. The former physio, who relocated to New Zealand in the early-2000s to be part of the Academy of Sport structure, has had prominent roles with the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks in the NBA where she worked with players of the ilk of Steph Curry , Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Trae Young.

She was part of two NBA championships during her three years at the Warriors (2015-18), and has the rings to show for it. She also spent a groundbreaking three years at the Hawks (2018-21) before deciding to move back to New Zealand with her husband to pursue opportunities in this part of the world.

Basketball NZ chief executive Dillon Boucher described the addition of Lane, who starts her role next month, as a “coup” for the organization as it looks to cash in on the surge of popularity among youngsters and continues to develop as a nation that punches well above its weight on the international stage.

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“Lane is a game-changer for our high performance program,” said Boucher. “She brings a wealth of international experience, as well as a holistic, player-focused mentality that we believe will help elevate our national teams to a new level.

“Chelsea’s unique skillset will help us get the best out of our athletes, staff and high-performance programmes.”

Lane’s CV is certainly impressive, as has been his ability to carve new territory in a league of the NBA’s standing.

Chelsea Lane tends to NBA superstar Kevin Durant during the 2017 NBA Western Conference playoffs.

Getty Images

Chelsea Lane tends to NBA superstar Kevin Durant during the 2017 NBA Western Conference playoffs.

After working as a performance therapist with the Academy of Sport, and then morphing into a job working with national team athletes as part of High Performance Sport NZ, she moved to the US in 2015 to start in a performance therapy role with the Warriors.

She was soon promoted to Head of Performance at Golden State and oversaw championships in 2017 and ’18, before being snapped up by the Hawks as Director of Performance (and eventually a team vice-president) to head a rebuild of their development programme.

“I loved the Hawks and being in Atlanta, but I had been there through a lot of unrest in the US and when Covid began to disrupt the world … a few family things aligned and that decision to move home became possible, we found us back here,” she said.

Lane said she learned a lot in multiple areas working with the elite performers and their championship mentality at the Warriors.

“It was culturally a huge change for me. I was the only non-American in the Warriors leadership group and the only woman; in fact I became the first woman in the NBA in a role like this in its 75-year existence.

“The learning curve became even steeper at the Hawks, but I had great support in a massive role.”

Basketball NZ high performance boss Chelsea Lane: 'I'm here to win, but winning is only one measurement of success.

Basketball NZ

Basketball NZ high performance boss Chelsea Lane: ‘I’m here to win, but winning is only one measurement of success.

She says when the role with Basketball NZ came up, “it felt like the stars were aligned … I thought, ‘I can actually be useful here – I think I can help’”.

Lane believes her background as a physio and performance therapist, combined with her experience in the NBA, makes her uniquely placed to contribute in the high performance space.

“I’m here to win, but winning is only one measurement of success. There’s many ways to look at how HP can be successful, so if we focus on those multi-faceted successes and the ‘humanity’ part of it, then success can come in a more sustained fashion.”

Her challenge, she says, is to build on the positive work under King and the groundswell in participation and “push it to that next level”.

“Our end goal is to achieve great results for the nation … this starts by refining what bespoke needs athletes need to perform at each level, and how each group of talented players can transition to that next level.

“In high performance sport it’s the outliers – the freaks of nature – that over-perform and out-perform. So the smaller the population, the less outliers you have. For us in basketball it’s got to be about playing to our strengths; playing the game to serve us at a global level and we have to ensure that those outliers are taken great care of, that we develop them as whole athletes and look after their bodies and minds, so they can have long careers.

“They’re our diamonds, and we have to take care of them.”

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