OKC Thunder: Thunder-Spurs rivalry has a New Zealand twist

About five years ago, like most other New Zealanders, Sean Marks began hearing of this local basketball prodigy. Steven Adams was his name.
by Anthony Slater Published: December 20, 2013

About five years ago, like most other New Zealanders, Sean Marks began hearing of this local basketball prodigy.

Steven Adams was his name. A big, strong, fluid teenager from a family full of athletes.

But unlike other New Zealanders, Marks had a unique perspective on the subject.

Growing up, Marks watched two of Adams' older brothers, Ralph and Warren, compete for the New Zealand national team.

Then, Marks became a basketball phenom himself, using his talent to secure a scholarship to the University of California, eventually leading to a spot in the second round of the 1998 NBA Draft.

He was the greatest Kiwi basketball player in history, the only one from his country to get drafted into the NBA.

That is, until Adams came along, developing enough to one-up Marks and become the first New Zealander ever selected in the first round when the Thunder took him 12th overall last June.

“I gave that (top spot) up,” Marks joked. “He's phenomenal and has a really bright future ahead of him. It's great. It's great for basketball in New Zealand.”

But, in a strange twist, it might not be so great for Marks' professional life.

After an 11-year NBA career, which included a title with the Spurs in 2005, Marks stayed on in San Antonio. For two years, he worked in the front office. And now, after Gregg Popovich's staff was raided for head coaches, Marks is in his first year as a Spurs assistant.

He's the big man coach, tasked with warming up Tim Duncan pregame and figuring out ways to neutralize opposing interior players during the game.


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...
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