“When I lost my dad, that was a big hit for me,” Adams told the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette last season. “I didn't have that parental guidance, and I kind of took advantage of it because I was a stupid idiot. I decided not to go to school a couple of times, go when I felt like it.”
At Wellington, Adams was introduced to the game of basketball, a move that turned his life around. And in return, he's hoping his newfound fame can do the same for others.
Because of poor performances in recent international competition, funding has been drastically cut for basketball programs in New Zealand.
But Adams hopes the interest, and eventually finances, will return, in part because of his popularity.
“People will go down there, hopefully, and know that there are good basketball players down there and get recruited to America or whatever it is,” Adams said at his introductory news conference in OKC last Saturday. “That's really what the main focus is because there's a lot of talent down there. It's just that there's not many programs and funding for them to nurture those talents. … Hopefully you'll see more Kiwis in the draft.”
For now, they'll just have to settle for the latest one, an athletic big man with plenty of pressure on his broad shoulders, carrying the future hopes of his new organization (which hopes he can turn into a franchise center) and his home country.
“We haven't seen a lot of him in a game situation yet,” Larmer said of Adams. “But promise-wise and talent-wise, he should go down, hopefully, as the greatest player we've ever produced.”