OKLAHOMA CITY — The last time the media was able to talk to Steven Adams, the world was slightly familiar. The signs were all there for what was to come.
The 7-foot New Zealander sat at the podium in the media room of Chesapeake Energy Arena typically reserved for postgame gatherings. The NBA had begun to enact new protocols under the shadow of the then-incoming coronavirus. The media were six-feet apart.
Fast forward 113 days. The media and Steven Adams were separated between computer screens via a teleconference. The world has changed, time has passed. Yet, Adams’ unique charm remains intact.
“I spent some time on the farm (in New Zealand),” Adams said. “The cows are doing good, mate. I was boxing out cows and all that, bro. I had a little bit of a farmer’s tan.”
Adams quickly confirmed that he was able to play pickup basketball against humans during his time in New Zealand.
Like many other foreign NBA players, Adams left America shortly after the NBA suspended play on March 11. While every country has had a unique experience combating the virus (to say the least), New Zealand has had more success than perhaps any other nation. Obvious reasons for that aside, Adams was appreciative of the way his home handled COVID-19.
“New Zealanders are generally quite compliant with following the rules,” Adams said. “We’re a smaller country and our borders are more easily managed. The approach was right at the start, go hard and kick its butt.”
Back in April, Chris Paul spoke with the media and mentioned the strong cohesion amongst the team despite the suspension of play. Zoom meetings and phone calls became as familiar as practices.
Adams, who is known to be technologically savvy, took exception to a particular sports journalist from 107.7 The Franchise who inquired if there was any difficulty to get accustomed to Zoom calls.
“I’m not bloody 60, bro,” Adams exclaimed in disgust. “I know how to work technology.”
The NBA announced a few weeks ago that no player will be punished for opting out of continuing to play in Orlando — save for losing game checks. Some players have already chosen to stay home, Avery Bradley being the most notable. Adams admitted that at one point, he could have gone either way.
“Yes and no,” Adams said when asked if he ever thought about staying home. “But when the league presented the way they wanted to do things, it was amazing. The amount of effort and how well they packaged the Orlando thing. They’re taking all the right precautions for a safe environment.”
“But I was expecting the season to come back up.” Adams continued. “It was a long period of time. It’s unbelievable. But I always imagined it would come back.”
While thoughts of the Orlando scenario leading to a topsy-turvy result persist, Adams feels that it is still a level playing field.
“My initial reaction is no (if there’s more chances of a lower seed winning a playoff series),” Adams said. “Everyone is away from home. I don’t think it will determine that much. I wouldn’t put that much thought into it.”
When asked about how he felt about the Thunder’s chances, Adams was brief.
“I’m betting on our team.”
Brady Trantham has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for The Franchise since April 2018 and for Thunder Digest since 2016. He hosts a Thunder podcast with Madysson Morris “OKC-82 Podcast” which can be found on all podcast outlets, and is a co-host on the Franchise Thunder Insider’s Show on Saturdays from 10-12. Brady is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma class of 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BradyDoesSports