Share “OKC Thunder: Rugby, siblings taught Steven...”

OKC Thunder: Rugby, siblings taught Steven Adams how to play tough

The youngest of 18 children, Adams took plenty of hits from his rough-and-tumble family, which included his Olympic champion sister.
by Anthony Slater Modified: January 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm •  Published: January 13, 2014


photo - OKC’ Steven Adams, right, defends against Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic during the Thunder’s 113-103 win on Sunday. With the win, the Thunder completed a season-high six-game homestand. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
OKC’ Steven Adams, right, defends against Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic during the Thunder’s 113-103 win on Sunday. With the win, the Thunder completed a season-high six-game homestand. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

So when Steven says that a Carter elbow or Sanders forearm doesn't compare to some of his childhood roughhousing, you tend to believe him.

He's the youngest of 18 kids. The females average 6-feet. The males average 6-feet, 9-inches.

“She's strong,” Steven said of Valerie. “My family is really strong. So getting hit by them is really painful. But you can't say something about it, especially being the youngest. If you're the youngest and you say something, you'll get more hits.”

And that didn't just go for his home life. It also translated over to the rugby field, a popular New Zealand sport that was Steven's first love growing up.

“Dudes in rugby in that pile, they get punched, kneed and all that,” he said. “They could be bleeding and stuff, they still have to go on and play.”

And Adams has brought that tough-as-nails mentality into his first year in the NBA.

Even at 20, he's already one of the most physical players in the league, constantly battling in the post, tussling for rebounding position, setting bruising screens and inviting any and all contact.

Including preseason, four players have been ejected for retaliating against Adams' physical style. And each time, Adams has brushed it off with a laugh and face of confusion, almost as if he's confused that the game was stopped for nothing more than a little elbow to the face.

“He always comes over to the bench and says, ‘What'd I do?'” Thunder teammate Perry Jones joked. “And we all get a little laugh out of it.”

Nick Collison, a 10-year veteran, said Reggie Evans was the only other guy he played with who had that kind of demeanor.

“When he gets hit, it doesn't bother him,” Collison said. “He doesn't take it personally like a lot of guys in our league do, where they think someone is out to get them.”

In the immediate, it helps the Thunder in two ways: Adams' bruising style gives them a needed interior presence. And his rare ability to entice technicals and ejections continues to produce unforeseen advantages.

But in the long-term, it bodes even better for Adams, who is rapidly developing an offensive skill set and overall awareness to pair with that rare strength and poise.

The future is bright.

“He's as tough as I've been around, any player,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “Every day, he just plays. The elbows, the pushes, nothing fazes him. All he cares about is eating a lot of food and playing basketball.”

Below is video of all four of the times Adams has enticed an ejection this season:





by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Nevada goats help eat, recycle Christmas trees
  2. 2
    Jack Daniels' son is Jim Beam
  3. 3
    Monkey gives first aid to unconscious friend
  4. 4
    Tony Romo calls Pro Bowl an honor, but hopes Cowboys can't play
  5. 5
    Census: State population grows by nearly 25,000 in past year
+ show more