New Zealand’s basketball team, the Tall Blacks, turned heads last week when they performed the haka at the opening of their World Cup game against the United States. The Tall Blacks’ opponents appeared confused and surprised at the sight of the traditional Maori dance, not sure what to make of this unfamiliar sight.
But despite this “shock and awe” tactic, the US team beat New Zealand with a 98 – 71 score.
The haka is a central part of New Zealand’s rugby culture – a long-standing Maori tradition carried forward for over a century. But adopting the historic war dance for basketball purposes was a first at this year’s World Basketball Championship held in Bilbao, Spain.