Adams will play for NZ 'someday'

Steve Adams wants to give back to young basketballers who are in the same situation he found...
Steve Adams wants to give back to young basketballers who are in the same situation he found himself in earlier in his career. Photo: Getty Images

Steven Adams has revealed why he is yet to pull on the Tall Blacks singlet.

In his autobiography Steven Adams: My Life, My Fight, the NBA star has delved in depth for the first time on why he has snubbed the national team.

Adams confirmed the report by the Herald on Sunday earlier this month, which outlined how he held a grudge against Basketball New Zealand for not being able to financially support him at a young age.

Adams' mentor, Kenny McFadden, said that when his young charge wanted to play for New Zealand, "he got no money and couldn't play''.

McFadden said it was a snub which had irked the then teenager.

He said Adams now felt more obligated to the Oklahoma City Thunder, for whom Adams' priorities are to be the best player he can be and to help contribute to a successful 2018-19 season.

Now, Adams has elaborated on the reasons for not joining the Tall Blacks, recalling the time he could not link up with McFadden's Junior Tall Blacks side.

"I couldn't afford it. To represent New Zealand as a young athlete costs a lot of money, not just in basketball but in all sports. Being selected for an age-group national side to play in an international tournament would cost each player thousands of dollars,'' Adams said.

"I knew of players who went on every trip, at least once a year, because their parents could easily afford to play for each tournament.

"But there were a lot of players, most of them brown, some of them the best in the country, who never once represented New Zealand because they couldn't afford to trial, let alone to fly overseas.

"I hate to think how many guys I played with could have had careers in basketball if they'd just been given more help [like I was] when they were younger.''

Adams said he would play for the Tall Blacks "some day'', but said many people did not understand his position, stressing that he has more loyalty to his Thunder side in the NBA than he does to the Tall Blacks.

"In most sports, representing New Zealand in a black singlet is the peak - athletics, netball, rowing. But there are some sports, such as soccer, tennis and basketball, where playing overseas is the ultimate goal. That's the pinnacle of those sports.

"Yes, I would love to represent New Zealand by playing for the Tall Blacks, but right now I don't feel I have time to give it my best and play a full NBA season.

" It probably doesn't help that I don't feel a great sense of loyalty to Basketball New Zealand. I like what the current Tall Blacks coach, Paul Henare, has been doing with the team and I would love to play for him at some point, but I need to be ready.

Now, Adams wants to give back to young basketballers who are in the same situation he found himself in earlier in his career.

"Paying it forward is what I like doing. Giving a leg-up to people who are doing everything they can but could do with some support.

"There's not a single successful person who didn't get help from a bunch of people along the way. But I know that most of the people who helped me did so because they wanted to, not because they thought they might be rewarded later.

"Now I want to be that person for a bunch of other kids. It's human nature to help others, and now that I have money and some influence, I want to use it to help as many people as possible.'' 

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