Chris Porter is "a big", in basketball parlance, but he's also big enough to admit he's made a few mistakes in his life.

"In life we've all made mistakes. I've made mine and I've owned up to those mistakes and put them behind me so I'm moving forward in playing basketball, a sport I love," said Porter, the American import who is the Hawke's Bay basketball franchise's latest acquisition to bolster the National Basketball League (NBL) campaign this year.

For the 37-year-old former NBA player those mistakes include arrests pertaining to cocaine and marijuana dating back from 2001 but he denied internet profile references that he did jail time for a year.

"No I've never done jail time. No, not a year's jail time, no."


But the bloke who was too small to be a power forward in the NBA has seen enough of the inside of the varnished walls and high-tech technology of courtrooms to know he prefers the polished maple hardwood floors and electronic buzzers of a basketball court.

His other indiscretion was for accepting money from an agent while attending and playing for the Auburn University Tigers team who suspended him for the last eight games of the season.

The Alabama native, through then varsity coach Cliff Ellis, admitted accepting the US$2500 ($3800) to save his mother from eviction from her home in the town of 3000 inhabitants in Abbeville, although he denied knowing the person was affiliated with any sports agency.

"Who wouldn't take care of their family?" he asked, adding his mum, a chef, and father, a construction worker, were his biggest supporters. "If I have to do it again I would."

So what lured him to roost with the Hawks in the Bay?

"A great GM here by the name of Jay. He's seen a lot of me when I played before so with that our relationship has grown," said Porter of new franchise general manager Jay Bratschi, the former Manawatu Jets GM who assumed the mantle last year when Tanya Dearns stepped down.

"He knows he has a good player in me so he's given me a chance to come to Hawke's Bay to play."

Porter has seen the highs and lows of basketball, from the dizzying heights of NBA to the frustration of remaining winless in the 2011 PBA Governor's Cup (0-8) with the Powerade Tiger in the Philippines professional league.

He was the 26th pick for the Golden State Warriors in the second round (55th overall) of the 2000 NBA draft.

"I started my career with the NBA and went on to win six championships in different leagues," said the 2.07m tall player who chalked up 51 games as a rookie small forward for the Warriors in two seasons.

"The game of basketball I truly love and give it my all when I'm on the court."

The NBL and New Zealand as a country are new frontiers for him.

"I've never played here before and it's a great league so I want to attend and see if I can compete at a high level with these guys and shut out the other teams as well."

Only regarded a small forward in the States, Porter will find himself promoted to the ranks of a power forward here but is pretty laid back about transitioning between No3 to No5 (centre).

"In a game of basketball you can play as many positions as you want as long as your skills are there so, I mean, I'm probably more part of a big man here but I'll be making adjustments to things I need to help the team."

He builds the foundation of his structure on a healthy dose of aggressiveness and "I leave everything I have on the court".

Known for his "large afro hairstyle and giant vertical leap" in his heyday, the man who featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated not long after the turn of the century reportedly created excitement with his dunking and rebounding prowess.

"Oh, yes, I've been known to jump very high so ... ," he said with a laugh before adding, "I can still jump although I can't jump like I did when I was 27 but I still can dunk a basketball."

His time in the NBA is invaluable in moulding him and reaching that pinnacle means he's got the portfolio "to get the job done".

"You learn things from great players and great coaches because they are the best in the world so that's why I've been able to play basketball as long as I have."

Born in a town with "just three streetlights", he played only basketball, baseball and American football.

He is the eldest among three other siblings with none of them playing serious basketball.

"They grew up watching me play and fell in love with the game watching their brother play," he said, thrilled to give something back to kids anywhere.