Home' Greymouth Star : May 20th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Coastguard Open Day
star Steven Adams’
universe has changed
dramatically since his
time growing up in
At a converted tugboat moored
at Wellington’s Oriental Parade,
$18 buys a large stack of pancakes
layered with streaky bacon and maple
syrup, bananas and blueberries. It is
a breakfast that takes a bit of eating,
by all accounts. Unless you are Steven
Adams. The basketball prodigy never
ordered from the menu when he
pitched up at the Boat Cafe every
Saturday morning. He did not need
to. Already well on the way to his
final, towering 2.13m height, the
giant teenager “was like a part of the
family here”, says duty manager Trey
Ngatai. So much so that he even had
his own meal — the Stevie Stack. “It
was a bit of everything,” says Ngatai.
“But three times as big as what a
normal customer would get.”
A mult-imillion-dollar deal
with title contending Oklahoma
City Thunder — which on Friday
advanced to the NBA Western
Conference finals by defeating the
Los Angeles Clippers 104-98 and
taking the best-of-seven series four
games to two — means the budding
superstar’s universe has changed
dramatically since those days. His
appetite has not.
“ Two roasts at one time — that ’s
ah-may-zing,” an impressed Adams
drawls when an Oklahoman realtor
points out the double stainless steel
ovens in a house he is pondering
renting. The promotional video clip
is a classic, and Adams plays the
charming New Zealand bumpkin
card to a tee when he asks where the
The joke is that Americans do not
have clotheslines. Neither did Adams,
not all that long ago.
“ We lived in apartments for so
long,” says Adams’ guardian, Blossom
Cameron. “ When we finally moved
to a house, he came home and he was
like, ‘ What are you doing, mum?’ I’m
like, ‘I’m watching the clothes on the
clothesline. I’m scared someone is
going to steal them’.”
Adams’ back story is well known.
The youngest of the 18 children
English sailor Sid Adams sired with
five different women, he grew up in
Rotorua. When Sid died, the 13-year-
old Adams drifted towards the wrong
side of the tracks. His brother Warren
took him to Wellington, where
Blossom took him under her wing.
Even at that age, Adams was huge,
far too big for Blossom’s central-city
“He was so big he couldn’t even sit
on the toilet and shut the door, that
was the worst thing,” says Blossom.
So they moved to Kilbirnie, to a
house with a clothesline.
Laying eyes on Adams for the first
time was just plain freaky for former
Tall Blacks captain Pero Cameron.
It was not Adams’ size — after a life
in basketball Cameron is no stranger
to genetic extremes — but rather the
family resemblance between younger
brothers Steven and Sid and older
siblings Warren and Ralph, Cameron’s
“It was like seeing those guys 20
years younger again,” says Cameron.
“I was freaking.”
It was Adams’ personality as much
as his size that struck Cameron. There
was no sign of the painful shyness
that afflicts many kids who exist
outside a normal size range.
“Definitely not shy,” says Cameron.
“Painful, yes. But painfully unshy,
I’d say. When you looked at his
behaviour, his character, it was
different. Very different.”
Most notably, Adams would always
be himself, no matter what. “ He
could meet the Prime Minister, the
President, it doesn’t matter who it is.”
The combination of self-assuredness,
lack of hubris and a wry sense of
humour has gone down a treat
with fans, the media and Adams’
team-mates in the NBA.
“Being from New Zealand, he is
unique, a bright light in the locker
room,” says Kenny McFadden, the
man who has mentored Adams since
he pitched up at his Wellington
basketball academy around eight years
ago. “He gets by just being himself.”
He’s been there less than a year, but
Adams is already greatly admired
inside the Thunder locker room. A
rookie who was not expected to play
much, if at all, this season, Adams
has outstripped all expectations by
commanding a regular place in a team
that is challenging for the NBA title.
“ You’re a hell of a person,” superstar
team-mate Kevin Durant said
while singling out Adams during
an emotional acceptance speech
when crowned the NBA’s best player
recently. “ You’re just such a fun,
spirited person. Never change who
you are, man. You mean a lot to me.
You inspire me, too.”
Adams’ opponents don’t feel the
same way. On court, the brick-like
New Zealander’s ultra-physical
approach and unflappable exterior
drives the game’s biggest stars to
distraction. No fewer than five players
have been ejected from games or
banned for attacking Adams this
season, with major US sports website
Grantland recently pondering who
would be the next player to punch
“ Kid Kiwi” in the face.
“And one, bitch”, a 17-year-old
Adams whispered under his breath
to grizzled veteran Casey Frank
during an intense practice session for
Wellington Saints three years ago. The
rookie Adams had just gone up for a
dunk. Frank attempted to foul him.
Hard. Adams barely even blinked. The
“and one” call was a reference to the
fact that, had it been a proper game,
Adams would have been shooting a
free throw to go with the two points
for the bucket. It was the basketball
equivalent of “in your face”. Frank was
“I just got so freakin’ mad,” recalls
Frank. “I started yelling at him and
I kicked him in the leg. He just kept
running like nothing had happened.
He still does that every day. That ’s the
kind of temperament he has. The way
he plays, you’d expect some aggression
or emotion with it, but he is just
deadpan. He comes out there and
does his work and is just grinding on
you play after play.”
A typical rough and tumble New
Zealand upbringing prepared Adams
to thrive in one of the world’s most
demanding sports leagues, says
veteran Tall Black Dillon Boucher.
“I love the fact that he is not phased
by anything,” says Boucher. “Guys
have punched him in the face and
he doesn’t react to it. He is used to
playing rugby, playing bullrush and
things like that, where getting hit is
no big deal.”
When he is not out-muscling
basketball’s biggest men for a living,
Adams can usually be found at the
house he shares with McFadden and
a live-in chef.
“It’s a beautiful home in a
north suburb of Oklahoma City,”
McFadden says. “P lenty of high
rooms so you don’t have to worry
about ducking through door ways or
anything like that. His number one
hobby is eating, so the first thing he
great job of making sure his belly is
full so he can continue to do what he
That task used to fall to Blossom,
a personal trainer and basketball
enthusiast who taught Adams by
example, both on the court and in life.
She was hard on him, but no harder
than she pushed herself,
even if she sometimes
wondered whether she
had crossed the line
between parent and
trainer, or if such a line
even existed. She knew,
she says, from day one
that Adams was going
to be a star. There was
simply no doubt.
Fame has not changed
her boy, insists Blossom.
But the world has
changed around him.
“ He really noticed it
the last time he came
home. Before that it
wasn’t a big thing. He
could catch the bus. He
always caught the bus.
But now he can’t. He
used to go into town
with his sisters, do what
most teenagers do, party,
go to clubs. He can’t do
that any more.
“If anything it
surprises him that the
world has changed
around him. It gives him a little bit of
a fright every now and then. He’s like
‘ what is all that about?’ And he’s not
little. You can’t hide him.”
Adams’ bus catching days are most
certainly over. In Oklahoma he drives
a Dodge Ram truck, having finally
got around to sitting his driver’s
licence test after flatly refusing to do
so in New Zealand.
Adams has never shied away from
the fact he is motivated by money.
“I want to make the NBA, hard-
out,” he said ahead of what would
be his lone US college season at
Pittsburgh before he threw his hat
into the high stakes lottery that is the
NBA draft. “ If I don’t, then the Euro
League or something — one of the
big money-making ones. I want to
give back to the people that helped
me along, Kenny and Blossom and
my family in Rotorua, because they
supported me a lot through all the
With a guaranteed salary of just
over $2.32 million, Adams certainly
hit the jackpot when the Thunder
took a punt on the physically
impressive but horribly raw New
Zealander. It may already be double
that of All Blacks captain Richie
McCaw, but Adams’ rookie salary is
just the tip of a massive cash-berg.
The total value of his five-year NBA
contract is $16.32 million.
Already signed to Adidas after
being selected by OKC as the 12th
overall pick in the 2013 draft, more
endorsement offers are pouring in.
So we will be seeing plenty of Adams
in advertising action very soon, says
McFadden. “Right now the focus has
got to be on the playoffs, but there are
a lot of people knocking on the door.
He will be hitting the airwaves on a
A naturalised American who car ved
out a life playing and coaching in
Wellington, McFadden has guided a
generation of aspiring players through
his academy. It is no coincidence that
Adams, who was the hardest worker
of them all, has gone the furthest.
“A lot of people, parents, say it’s too
much — ‘they need down time, you
might burn them out ’. But Steve’s
done everything that was asked plus
more. At the end of the day this is
what you get — a guy drafted in the
lottery, a guy who is just as good as
anyone else in the world, a guy who
was born and raised in New Zealand
standing up on his own two feet.”
— NZ Herald
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 7
The Coastguard West Coast open day on Saturday gave the public and
reporter PAUL McBRIDE, the opportunity to see the rescue service
first-hand. Lake Brunner president Neville Winter said it was part of a
month-long promotion known as ‘May Day’. “It is awareness of Coastguards
throughout New Zealand to let the public know we are all volunteers and
what we do.” Open day activities at the Blaketown Lagoon headquarters
included rides on the rescue boat and the inflatable, and a sausage sizzle.
Dana Lambert and John Blacktopp marshal the boarding ramp.
The Coastguard rescue boat and excited passengers, about to head out for a trip over the Grey River bar.
All aboard the inflatable rescue craft.
Canterbury Coastguard air patrol project manager Gordon McKay, right, and pilot Paul Hartley with an unmanned
sur veillance craft.
Daniel Horridger and Asher Lambert do the rounds with barbecued
sausages, onions, bread and wild bacon.
focuses on cooking
Adams shoots for the stars
PICTURE: Getty Images
Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives to the basket against the
Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semi-finals.
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