Mike Hosking: Why the angst over Steven Adams - he owes us nothing

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 18 June 2019, 1:19PM
Basketball NZ's pursuit of Steven Adams is amusing but will never work, writes Mike. (Photo / Getty)

It's one of sports more amusing pursuits, the dream that Basketball New Zealand has of chasing Steven Adams. 

It looks, again, the way it has for years now, a forlorn hope. Adams is not playing for us. 

I don’t blame him or hold any sort of grudge. Would it be wonderful? Of course. 

But why would he? Well, the answer, of course, is he loves his country and wants to represent it. 

But the critical part of the equation, and Adams is hardly the first, if you're looking for international examples, is that national representation tends to be the pinnacle of achievement. But in basketball's case, it is a fairly heavy come down. 

Our national game sees our best players play rugby for their province, then a Super Rugby side, and then one of the greatest national sides in all of sport. Football is the same, the World Cup is the pinnacle of sporting achievement. That’s why most of your EPL and European league heavyweights turn out.

For basketball, it's the Olympics. But do you see the NBA's finest there? A few, but not all. Is the American side the glittering array of every balling genius available? Not even close.  Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson were there in 2016. Lebron wasn’t, nor was Steph Curry, or any number of other equally talented and pick-able players. 

Sport is about striving to be the best player, in the best team, in the best competition. The NBA beats everything. And it's a big season with a lot of games and a lot of physical attrition. 

The best tennis players don’t play for their countries, nor often the best golfers. Elevate yourself into a multi-million dollar existence, and playing country to country isn't quite the attraction it is for others. 

And in Adams defence, it's not like he doesn’t give back. He runs his own clinics, he pumps his own money back into the kids, and the sport. 

That’s all before you get to the greatest Adams trait of all, he's his own man. He follows his own path, his own agenda. He's never struck me, in the one time I've interviewed him and the various times I've seen him grunt his way through post match chat in the locker room, to be a bloke who is remotely interested in any particular glory at all. 

He was a favourite for the All Star team this past season. Before voting he was asked what that meant, he paused looked at the interviewer and said "I couldn’t care less." 

He likes Oklahoma, they pay him $40 million a year, that’s about where he's at. He owes us nothing.