- Publish Date
- Friday, 15 June 2018, 10:59AM
There is more to being a patriot than playing for your national team.
Yet, for some reason, Steven Adams' decision to make himself unavailable for the upcoming Tall Blacks window is being treated by some as though he's turned his back on the country.
I'll say this nice and early because I know not everyone will read this through - Steven Adams doesn't owe New Zealand anything. We are not entitled to be confused by his decision.
For one thing, Paul Henare's Tall Blacks should at worst go 1-1 in their upcoming games against Hong Kong and China. They beat Hong Kong by 59 points in November, won in China in February, and have already qualified for the second round of the World Cup qualification process.
But let's look past that.
The Oklahoma City Thunder centre is currently on holiday in New Zealand after the long grind of the NBA season. While he's here, he'll be running coaching clinics across the country to help develop the young talent and will be on hand to open a new basketball court in Palmerston North in August.
How unpatriotic of him to give back to the community like that. How dare he.
Not to mention every single time he runs out onto the court at Oklahoma's Chesapeake Arena he does so accompanied by the echoing call of: 'Starting at centre, 7" from New Zealand, number 12 – Steven Adams.'
The 24-year-old was actually questioned about that during the most recent NBA season. A local beat reporter asked Adams why he has the announcer call 'from New Zealand' as opposed to doing what most NBA players do and be announced as from their Alma mater – which for Adams is the University of Pittsburgh.
"It's where I'm from. I think it fits better, no. It's a bit more different as well. Everyone's saying their university and stuff, and it's like, eh, I'm from New Zealand," Adams says.
"So it's a pride thing?" the reporter asks.
"You could say that. Definitely. Definitely proud of being a New Zealander."
How unpatriotic of you, Steven. Jeez... shape up, man.
There's also the case of 140 million other reasons for him to stay off the court during the offseason. While the upcoming international window is a short one, I'm sure the Thunder front office would be simply thrilled to hear their star big man was injured fronting for his national team in a couple of unimportant matches.
'It's OK, New Zealand. We'll just have our $140 million investment sit on the sidelines. The important thing is that he pulled on that black singlet for you.'
It only takes one awkward landing and Adams' 2018-19 campaign could end before it starts.
It is at the 2019 World Cup where Adams would be a pivotal addition; the player who could push the Tall Blacks from their usual role of potent underdogs to a side more capable of pulling off a deep run. Why is this window being treated like the endgame for the Tall Blacks?
I'm sure those who feel like Adams is obliged to represent the country this time around also appreciate being pressured to work when they're supposed to be enjoying some time off.
Can't we just let the man have his holiday?
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.