By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder center Steven Adams is used to an August chill. August for Adams back home in New Zealand can be a bit like February here in Oklahoma, the last full month of winter, still weeks away from the beginnings of spring.
For Thunder teammates Andre Roberson and Nick Collison the calendar is flipped. They’ve joined Adams on a trip down under along with Thunder assistant coaches Mark Bryant and Darko Rajakovic and some Thunder staffers.
Collison hosted Adams for several days at his home in Seattle last off-season and Adams wanted to return the favor. He’s also wanted to bring other members of his Thunder family down to the southern hemisphere to see what life is like for a “Kiwi.”
Adams has been sharing his adventures on his Twitter and Instagram accounts and by the looks of it he and his mates have been having a wonderful time.
In addition to showing off his homeland Adams has been hosting and helping out with basketball camps.
Kris Shannon, reporting for the New Zealand Herald, talked to Adams inside a small gymnasium on New Zealand’s north shore.
"My main thing in coming here for this camp is showing the kids that basketball is a fun sport to play, but also showing them that there's an opportunity there to use it as a vehicle, if they wish, to get a free degree and stuff like that. That's so good - it's such a good headstart in life,” he told Shannon.
Adams, as many Thunder fans already know, didn’t grow up playing the sport but once he started with it he quickly grew to love the game. His raw ability and his 7-foot frame led to a scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh and then on to the Thunder where he has become one of the best centers in the NBA.
"I didn't actually like the game at first," Adams is quoted as saying in the interview. "But I really fell in love with the progress, just seeing a little bit of progress, and it made me feel like I had a bit of purpose in my life, as cheesy as that sounds.”
Adams said he and his teammates going in-depth with their basketball teachings during the camps. It’s really much more about just making sure the kids have fun.
"That's the main motivation behind it - it ain't like a high performance camp or anything like that. We're going to go teach kids high fives and make sure the enjoy the game, just keep the excitement up around it. And give them some free stuff."
Free stuff is always good, there are cool camp tee shirts and caps and other gifts for the Kiwi campers.
Between camps Adams, Roberson and Collison also gave time and money to a fundraising effort for a basketball court at a Ronald McDonald House in Auckland and they’re finding enough spare time for plenty of sightseeing too.
“They love the land and everything like that,” Adams told the Herald. “They're trying to get used to the raw fish but they'll come round to it. They really enjoyed the welcomings and stuff. They just find New Zealand people amazing in how respectful and how much they care about them being here. That's something that they're going to take away to America and really hold on to and remember about New Zealand - how the people really care."
It really sorta sounds like they’ve found a bit of Oklahoma in New Zealand.