There are plenty of reasons to love Steven Adams on the basketball court, but there are just as many to love him off of it.
Here are twelve of them (you know, because he wears #12) in no particular order.
1. His story.
I’ve already been through this once and it took me about 2,500 words so I’m not going to retell Steven’s journey to the NBA, but suffice to say that despite being just 20-years-old, he’s been through a lot. Had he not shown so much potential and willingness to put in the hard work to make something out of his life, chances are he would be another statistic instead of one of the biggest stars to come out of New Zealand. He is an inspiration and a fantastic role model, especially for kids in their pivotal teenage years.
2. His gold tooth.
Can we start by acknowledging that he is a white* man who is fully pulling off a prominent gold tooth? (Fingers are pointed at you, OKC press photoshopper!) This city jumped on the beard bandwagon and embraced Russell’s lenseless glasses and fishing lure shirt, so explain to me why we’re not all walking around with foil covering our left lateral incisors. Let’s make it happen, Thunder fans!
3. His selection of intro music.
Spoiler: it’s The Proclaimers I Would Walk 500 Miles.
Q: Can you sing a little of it?
A: I can sing a lot of it.
4. This tweet. (And a bunch of others.)
If you want to get to know about a celebrity’s personality, one of the best ways is to look through their Twitter feed. And not just their posts, but their responses. Steven has quite a few to choose from, but this one in particular tickled me. (Kudos for trying, @rrachelsmithh.)
Other contenders were a conversation in which the ThunderGurls invited Steven to go to the fair with them. Another dude jumped in asking Steven how he could turn down an offer like that. Steven’s response was classic: “Like this – Sorry ladies, I’m too tall to fit on the rides.” And another giving more clarification about not having an Instagram account, “If it doesn’t have food, it’s fake.”
Speaking of food, that does pretty much cover about 90% of his tweets. Another 8% goes to cheering on kiwi teams. (#TheGreatBeaver) With the other 2% being split between giving his sisters a hard time and fending off aggressive ladies.
5. His collection a pre-draft videos.
Before Sam Presti decided to grab Steven in the draft, several other teams had their eye on him. He spent the month before the ceremony working out for various teams around the league and, lucky for us, he video blogged much of his journey. All of the videos are pretty “meanage” and are worth the watch. I chose to link this one due to the fact that it’s in Oklahoma City, he talks about the Hooters ladies (“Wah!”) and it has a “mean” count of nine in just 3:24.
8. His charmingly awkward interviews.
When I first learned that we may be targeting Steven, the first thing I did was YouTube him. This video was one of the first ones to pop up. As someone who has had to conduct interviews from time to time, this one is pretty horrific, but oddly really endeared me to Adams. He’s not trying to be awkward or a dick, he’s just simply answering the questions. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “Uhhh… I don’t know. Running. Playing. Yeah.”
Nowdays his interview skills are definitely improving, but he hasn’t been polished to the point of boredom. You can still find at least one quotable in each interview. My most recent favorite came when he was asked about how much he knew coming into the game about the opponents he would square off against. Not much, I guess. He said he would have to get his “study on.”
9. His house shopping requirements.
When looking for accommodations in a new city, NBA stars seek out the best of the best. Steven, however, is looking for simple things – tall doorways, lots of rooms, a large bathtub and a clothesline. Really. Also, he’d like it to be on a farm. Hilarious.
10. His ability to take a hit.
One of the things I hate most in the NBA is flopping. I don’t like when other teams do it and I don’t like it when our guys do it. It’s cheap, even if it is effective. After an elbow from Nate Robinson (a.k.a. the league’s Kevin Hart) and veteran Vince Carter, it’s clear that flopping will not be an issue with Steven. The guy is made of steel. And, as an added bonus, the latter elbow started a love affair with the city and Steven that is not soon to end.
11. He plays the guitar.
In an interview from the Post Gazette while Steven was at Pitt, Ray Fittipaldo wrote, “It’s not an uncommon sight to walk past the rows of coaches offices at the Petersen Events Center and see Adams strumming a country tune on his guitar for Dixon and the assistant coaches.”
No one in OKC has reported the same type of thing happening here, but I really hope he’s been serenading Coach MB with a little Achy Breaky Heart.
12. His ability to handle potentially embarrassing high five mishaps.
Ever been that guy left hanging on a high five? So has Steven. Fortunately, when former Thunder center and now Clipper, Byron Mullens, left Steven in an uncomfortable high five situation, he thought on his feet and took care of things himself. The results went viral.
* Speaking purely of his skin color, not of his heritage. Steven is half English, half Tongan. I didn’t mean to offend anyone or exclude the Tongan half of his heritage. I know he is very proud of his roots and I would never try to cut that out.