• The Breakers' incoming GM Dillon Boucher was one of the basketball club's finest players and says he now has his dream job.
• Boucher has been groomed for the job while working as the club's commercial manager.
• Boucher and Paul Henare, who takes over as head coach after this season, are best mates and Boucher says this will naturally play a part in recruitment decisions.
• He reveals the secrets to the Breakers' success in recruiting players like Cedric Jackson.
•One of the great moments in New Zealand sport remains the biggest disappointment of Boucher's career.
Dillon Boucher was the ultimate team basketballer, proud of his ability to draw the best from team mates. The former Tall Black and Breakers linchpin will attempt to translate his formula to the front office, as the new general manager of the Auckland ANBL club.
The 40-year-old chats to the Herald.
You have said this is your dream job...
There was either the coaching or commercial path to go down...I always talked about spending more time with my family so for me, coaching would have been a tough route because you've got to follow the jobs.
This is a new double act with Paul Henare taking over as head coach. What are his strengths?
He's a natural leader, hard worker, and prepared to make sacrifices for the team. The players respect him, they follow his lead. His teams are very disciplined. You can hear during time outs that players are locked in to what he is saying.
As a former top player, will you have more influence over recruitment etc. than your predecessor Richard Clarke?
The biggest single difference is that Pauly and I have a strong friendship and he respects my thoughts as a basketball purist. At the end of the day my role is to recruit the players he wants.
Are you old mates?
I'd go so far as to say we are best friends. He moved in with me as a 17-year-old, when he came from Hawkes Bay to play for Auckland. His friendship with my family is very strong. We've played with or against each other for a long, long time. We both started families at a young age, our first children were born 10 days apart.
Does that friendship make for tricky moments ahead?
The reality is there will be times when we butt heads and times when he wants players we can't get. There will be testing moments. But that is no different to when he called a play and I didn't execute it properly on court. We are both very competitive, both want to win, both prepared to do whatever it takes.
How do you recruit, in a world full of basketball players?
We have a scout in America we rely on the most. I won't name him because I don't want other teams in this part of the world using him. A lot of players are very similar. To find someone like Cedric Jackson you need to know if they just want the money, do they come from a winning culture, are they a good person...have you done your homework on their personal life? What do their coaches and team mates think? You can get a player who a coach loves but team mates hate. The final decision comes when our owner Paul Blackwell calls the player and gets an idea of who they are on the phone. Players' hunger for the game will change during different stages of their life.
Let's zip to America briefly...is Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams really a dirty player?
Not at all. But he doesn't back down from anyone and like a lot of us here with a rugby background, he is not afraid to bang bodies inside. I'd never say he is a dirty player, but he's a rough player and very strong which frustrates people because they can't move him. He probably leads the NBA in times hit in the face by others, but I've never seen him throw an elbow.
Who was the strongest player you came up against?
(former Tall Black) Pero Cameron was by far the strongest. He could manhandle you with one hand, make it look effortless. There were big strong European players we came up against but Pero was certainly up there with them.
Your highlight as a player?
I really struggle with that...I won nine titles in New Zealand and four ANBL titles and each has a special place in your heart. Representing New Zealand at the (2004) Olympic Games, walking around the opening ceremony, was pretty special. The 2002 world championships is what launched my career and profile in this country, when we came fourth. It seemed like a pretty amazing achievement, yet all the players on that team feel we let ourselves down. We should have played for the gold medal. From the outside we were a team of nobodies who did amazing things but all the players know differently. We were up by quite a bit at halftime against Yugoslavia...very frustrating, very disappointing.
Is there anything you would like to change in basketball?
The direction is very good but I'd like to see more people coming to our games. It's two hours of entertainment you can't get anywhere else. It frustrates me when people say they have never even been to a game.
Your childhood heroes?
Michael Jordan...he made me fall in love with basketball. Michael Jones, for everything he stood for. I idolised a local basketball player Riki Strother - he became an Auckland team mate.
Your personality is...
On the court, very aggressive. I did all the little things to make a team better, and never saw myself as a superstar. Off the court, I want to be known first as a family man. I cherish my family. As Breakers general manager, I want to be firm but fair. People need to be led, but not by a dictator.
Does 'family first' reflect your own upbringing?
I had a similar upbringing in Bell Block, a little town in Taranaki. I had two older brothers...mum and dad were very supportive. We had a hoop on the garage and there were lots of battles against my brothers, playing on gravel. I put the way I played down to that, always battling against bigger stronger guys and never backing down.