Former Tall Blacks captain Pero Cameron has become the first New Zealander inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.

Cameron's selection among the international basketball legends was announced overnight and the national assistant coach will be inducted at a ceremony in Geneva in late September,

But even that might struggle to match the emotion when the current Tall Blacks broke into their Tu Kaha O Pango haka for Cameron, when they heard the news in Beirut.

In the letter from FIBA secretary general Patrick Bauman, Cameron's incredible career was described as having greatly contributed to the growth of the game in New Zealand and around the world.


Basketball New Zealand CEO Iain Potter said Cameron's recognition was wholly deserved, and an incredible honour for the man, our country and for the game.

"Pero has been such a massive influence on the game, on and off the court," said Potter. "His strength and presence as an amazing player, and the sheer power of his personality has been such that he truly is a giant of the game, in literal and metaphorical terms."

Cameron received the news while on tour with the Tall Blacks at the FIBA Asia Cup, where he is working alongside former team-mate and great friend Paul Henare, doing what he does best these days, inspiring and teaching the next generation.

Not one for too many words on such an occasion, Cameron took time to reflect on his career to date in the sport he loves so much.

"Immediate thoughts go to mum and dad and my family, who have supported my career as a player for the last 20 years really. Mum and dad Mata and Stuart, my wife Jennelle and kids Tobias, Flynn and Layla, what they have gone through supporting the athlete chasing their dreams, it is not easy.

"I think the success on the court starts with their support, but also the support of my team-mates, coaches - it is endless. That is a direct reflection of how well the Tall Blacks were going back in that period, from about 1999 to 2005 - that stretch was pretty good."

When told of the news at a practice session, the young Tall Blacks turned in a passionate and heartfelt rendition of Tu Kaha O Pango, their energies and respect directed solely at Cameron, with captain Reuben Te Rangi saying he was proud to represent all who have worn the black singlet in honouring the man they call "PC".

"Pero is one of our greats and we as a group are lucky to have him in the coaching team, teaching us and inspiring us," said Te Rangi. "Whether it is one-on-one work with players, on the training court, or with some of his endless stories of his playing days, and the things he has seen and achieved, he is just someone we all look up to.

"That haka was on behalf of everyone who knows PC and has benefited from spending time with him, on or off court."

Someone who took the chance to be in the middle of the haka rather than his typical courtside position watching was Henare, who described the moment he heard of the Hall of Fame induction.

"I was over the moon, he deserves it. He has just had such an amazing career and done so much for basketball in our country.

"Relatively speaking, he is an unsung hero in the greater scheme of things, so to see him get this recognition is amazing. I am extremely proud of him and happy for him to get this sort of recognition.

"He is so well known ... I don't know a comparison, but Wynton Rufer I hear was similar on a world stage for what he did, and Pero is exactly the same.

"No matter where we are in the world, we walk in a gym, and someone knows him and his story and what he has achieved and the player that he was, and that speaks volumes.

"Physically he was unique in terms of the way he played. The skill set, the IQ, the steely nerves and the clutch plays he made is what made him so special."

Cameron was first selected for the Tall Blacks in 1994. In 2000, for the Sydney Olympics, he became co-captain of the side and was elevated to sole captain the following year.

Arguably, his most memorable moment as captain of the Tall Blacks came in 2002, when the team stunned the basketball world by making the semifinals of the 2002 FIBA World Championship, eventually losing to Germany for fourth place.

In the tournament, Cameron averaged 14.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, and became the only non-NBA player to make the all-tournament team. He was joined on this team by established NBA superstars Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojaković and NBA rookies-to-be Yao Ming and Manu Ginóbili.

Cameron retired from international duties having played in two Olympic Games (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004) and three World Championships (2002, 2006 and 2010). He was part of a golden generation of New Zealand basketball that produced the likes of Sean Marks, Kirk Penney, Rob Hickey, Tony Rampton and Phil Jones.