Family and a difference in coaching philosophy were the driving factors in Mike Fitchett's sudden resignation as New Zealand Breakers assistant coach.

Fitchett resigned from his role just six days out from the start of the Breakers' current campaign in the Australian National Basketball League. He informed the club of his exit at the airport in Oklahoma City as the team made its way back from a short preseason run in the States, which raised many eyebrows back home.

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He was the last man standing in the team's core basketball staff since Matt Walsh bought the team from Liz and Paul Blackwell in February 2018, following Paul Henare, Kevin Braswell, Judd Flavell and general manager Dillon Boucher out the door.

The Breakers were upset by the timing of Fitchett's departure, and Walsh said he "wasn't interested in hearing a whole lot from him" during the team's trip back to home shores.


But in his first interview since his resignation, Fitchett has explained exactly why he left the club when he did.

"We'd been thinking as a family of making it through this season and potentially looking at options whenever the season finished," he said.

"But I wasn't enjoying the role and we decided to make the move a little bit earlier and I was going to resign.

"We managed to sell our house very quickly, surprisingly quickly. When I went on the trip to the States the sale wasn't completed, if it was I would have resigned before the trip to the USA - no doubt.

"It literally happened during the OKC game; my wife texted me and said the sale was unconditional."

Fitchett tried to tell Walsh before they left to begin their journey home, but says he wasn't able to get Walsh alone.

"The airport - it wasn't ideal, I understand it looks bad," he admitted.

"But the situation for my family was I couldn't resign until the sale was unconditional, if I had and the sale had fallen over, then I don't have a job but I still have a mortgage to pay.


"It was one of those ones where I had to be a little bit selfish and I had to look after number one and look after the family, but I'm confident that 99 per cent of people in my position would have done the same thing."

Fitchett's discomfort in his role had begun with the appointment of new director of basketball Dan Shamir, with whom he didn't get along well with.

Mike Fitchett (far right) cited he and Dan Shamir (centre) had a difference in coaching philosophy. Photo / Photosport
Mike Fitchett (far right) cited he and Dan Shamir (centre) had a difference in coaching philosophy. Photo / Photosport

"You work with different coaches through your career and I was lucky enough to come through with Paul Henare and we were very closely aligned, and I really enjoyed working with Kevin Braswell. Dan Shamir just has a style that wasn't something I enjoyed.

"That's not to say he does things rightly or wrongly, it was just that it wasn't for me.

"It was a difference in coaching philosophies, you know that's not a bad thing, that happens.

"Coaches have to work closely alongside each other and if it's not working it's best to step away, so that was the decision I made."

As for the direction of the Breakers under Walsh and the new management, Fitchett found one focus harder to go along with.

"The thing the Blackwells did - and it's something that's important to me personally - was just the emphasis on developing Kiwi players.

"They've gone a different direction under Matt, and that's fine.

"You're seeing by the crowds they're pulling in things are working and the RJ Hampton effect is real.

"But for me personally, as a guy that's a proud New Zealand basketballer and helped develop some of those players, it was important to me that they continue that. That's not something that happened, and so be it."

Fitchett is currently in the process of moving back to his hometown of Nelson, where he will coach the Nelson Giants in the NZ NBL.