Daniel Nelson knows only too well that in the complex maze of human existence, it's pointless going through the motions of a daily grind without establishing a sense of identity.
Fortunately for the newly appointed Taylor Corporation Hawks basketball coach that biological accreditation had started emerging from the time he was a youngster growing up in Dublin, Ireland.
The user name and password to Nelson's identity was uncomplicated — Christine Broe and mum, respectively.
For the 35-year-old, the maternal matrix was the centre of civilisation, as he knows it.
His mother, who still works professionally under her maiden name, is a renowned poet and sculptor.
"My mother is a huge influence in everything that I do," he says after arriving in Napier a fortnight ago in a bid to mastermind the Hawke's Bay franchise aspirations of claiming the second National Basketball League (NBL) crown in the province's history.
A carpenter and joiner by trade since he was 19, Nelson had yearned for something to define him as someone who had just returned home from a Spanish club academy.
"I had started looking for something to [establish] my identity outside of basketball as a person."
With his mother into sculpture in a big way — including some solid mahogany works of Irish revolutionary James Connolly — Nelson found himself gravitating towards woodwork from an early age before reinforcing that in high school. She is an art therapist who conducts creative writing workshops using art media. Broe was the winner of the Brendan Kennelly/Sunday Tribune Award in 2000 and the Premio Cittá di Olbia award in 2001.
Swan Press published "Solas Sólás" in 2003 and in May last year her poem, The Kerchief, had clinched the adult published category of the Trócaire competition in Dublin.
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"I really enjoyed it and it's part of where I am as a person so I wanted to make a profession out of it and have it behind me before I transitioned into basketball," says Nelson of his mother's influence on becoming a builder.
The desire to map his constitution overrode the need to have the trade as a plan B for financial gains.
His father, Thomas, is a retired government auditor, working his way up from scratch to an elite position in the civil service that saw him seconded to Luxembourg, a landlocked country in western Europe nestled between Belgium, Germany and France, where Nelson had spent four years of his childhood.
Nelson had some success playing basketball as a shooting guard. He honed his skills in Spain at 17 through a club academy before returning to shimmy and fake at the Irish national club level.
"I had realised very early that coaching was where it was for me," he says, revealing a flirtation that had become evident in Spain.
He saw coaching as a way to give something back to his Templeouge Basketball Club in Dublin. A mentor, the late Mick James, was his inspiration while helping him coach under-11 boys at the academy. He reveals when James died in 2009 of a heart attack, the garda (Irish police force) had to shut down the entire neighbourhood for his funeral procession. The enormity of James as a stalwart had only dawned on him that day.
"I got really into it and I knew that I really needed to coach so I didn't necessarily need to play," he says, adding he's still partial to social basketball in summer.
Coaching became part of Nelson's repertoire from 17 to 21. He was a cog in the wheel to help build a strong system at Templeouge, which went on to dominate the national junior men's elite competition. The club eventually established a semi-professional outfit that is holding its own in the Super League there.
It is with a sense of pride that Nelson reflects on the Templeouge side having an import player last season from a Russian team he had helped mentor.
A few years ago, he says, Denver Nuggets assistant general manager Calvin Booth had attempted to lure him to his Amateur Athletic Union (AAU non-school basketball) programme in the US but Nelson had his eyes on stints in Australia and Europe.
"He had said your work is very detailed and organised so what's the influence behind that?"
Nelson revealed it was a habit his mother had instilled in him from a young age. A "well done" often came with a "how can we improve?"
His first professional basketball stint came at 26 at Trinity College in Dublin although he kept his circular saw, hammer and spirit level within reach.
"When we won the championship with Trinity College — one of the most prestigious universities in western Europe — the money they had paid me actually was lost in the cost of flights here and back so I still needed to work in carpentry," he says with a wry smile, although grateful for that fabulous opportunity to grind his teeth in coaching.
He kept oiling and sharpening the tools of his trade until he was 29, to make ends meet.
When coaching in the Australia National Basketball League (ANBL) he had juggled three jobs — head coach and assistant coach as well as a construction site stint in Perth.
"I've worked around the clock in the last nine seasons as a fully professional coach."
Nelson grins when you ask him if building his own home is on the bucket list.
"I've built a lot of homes for other people ... but retiring from basketball is 65, which is the current trend, and you've got people who go past that."
Having travelled to 39 countries to coach basketball, he still sees himself as "a young puppy" in a domain where polished floors lead to high-octane driving lanes on which franchises take stock of hour-long stints after the drawn-out time has drained from the shot clocks.
"I want to coach as long as I can but building a house would be nice," he says with a laugh. "You know, I could build a house somewhere soon but I may not be able to live in it for long."
Nelson has enjoyed the camaraderie on construction sites, relishing the many heads coming together to create plans and working around the challenges of different trades within the project in finding common ground to ensure things fall into place.
"Looking back afterwards to say, 'We did that and we were involved', is great."
For him the Euro League Basketball is the pinnacle, not that he doesn't think much of the NBA in the United States.
"It's just a flavour, an opinion," he explains. "I'm not ranking it as how people choose to rate leagues."
His influences come from the Lithuanian, Yugoslavian, Greek and Spanish leagues.
"I was fortunate to be born into those sorts of leagues and that's our style of basketball," he says. "I really love the Australian and New Zealand style of basketball."
Nelson rates the Australia and New Zealand brand as "the best of both worlds" — a blend of American and Europe.
"It's a true sense of what Fiba basketball is," he says. "Everard [Bartlett] and I were just talking about that."
The distinctive differences with NBA almost distinguishes them as separate sports.
"It's funny to me that people are talking about it as if it's the same thing," he says with a chuckle. "For me it's like the difference between boxing and UFC [cage fighting]."
The likes of Yugoslav mentor Dusan Ivkovic is where Nelson finds his bearings. It's a country that gave rise to a rash of former players who became self-taught mentors from as early as post-World War II.
Nelson's last gig was with Parma Basket Perm in the VTB United League, the elite professional tier of the men's competition in Russia. He was assistant coach of the Parma 1 side but head coach of Parma 2 during the 2018-19 season.
Some of his previous coaching stints include spells with the German Bundesliga and NBBL at the helm of the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and Porsche BBA sides.
He's whipped out clipboards for huddles along the benches of the Pro B team, Giants Nördlingen, in Germany. He has coached in the United Kingdom BBL with Leeds Force as well as the ANBL and Women's SBL with the Perth Wildcats and the Cockburn Cougars, respectively.
Nelson has performed myriad roles including head coach, assistant coach, development manager, coach educator and video scout. His multiple coaching licences are a testimony to that.
He has also been involved in international basketball, as a video scout with the Australian men for pre-season training camps in Perth, friendly games against China and for pre-season preparation games in Croatia, Lithuania and Slovenia. He has served assistant coach with Irish national teams.
In Australia and Ireland, Nelson has volunteered his time with state teams and national talent identification programmes. Establishing junior development and player pathways are close to his heart.
He has spent the past four Northern Hemisphere summers testing the athletic abilities and physical measurements of the top 50 American and top 50 International NBA Draft prospects in Italy and the United States.
Nelson hopes to build a rapport with the Bay community as well as sponsors and fans.
"This is what it's about so I can't wait to learn more," he says. "I know a lot of history so I can't wait to meet people who have built that and are still actively involved in it in the province."
The Hawks open their campaign against reigning champions Wellington Saints on Thursday, April 9, in a 7.30pm tip off at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale. The NBL will culminate with the Final Four from July 17-19 before the grand final from July 24-26.