Thunder center Steven Adams stayed in shape 'boxing out cows' on New Zealand farm during NBA shutdown
Steven Adams pointed the webcam to his left arm. He wanted to show off the farmer’s tan he’d been working on in New Zealand.
“Just from here down,” Adams said, lifting his T-shirt sleeve. “It was bloody brilliant. The cows are doing good though, mate.”
The Thunder center returned to his home country in March, shortly after the season was suspended. His first instinct was to be near family and friends as the coronavirus pandemic spread.
“That’s with any international player,” Adams said. “They’ll feel the same way. They just want to be close to loved ones. In case anything happens, you want to be there.”
Adams recently flew back to Oklahoma City ahead of the NBA season restart, arriving to a place much different than the one he left 7,500 miles behind.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been lauded for her handling of the pandemic. There have been 1,180 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths in the country of 4.9 million, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health.
Oklahoma, with a population of 3.9 million, has had 14,539 cases and 395 deaths.
“Obviously I’m being a bit more cautious now,” Adams said, “but you should just be cautious anyway … It’s just simple things, like even shaking hands. I don’t know how you feel about it, but going in for a handshake with someone is very, very sketchy.”
New Zealand went into lockdown March 25. Most businesses closed, schools shut down and residents were required to stay at home as the island closed its borders.
“There was a few hiccups here and there, but for the most part, New Zealanders generally are quite compliant with rules, you know what I mean?” Adams said.
“Everyone was kind of making sure that we follow the rules properly, maintain distance and whatnot. Collectively, all the Kiwis did a really, really good job with that, and that’s what kind of shut it down. But then again, it is a bit different. We’re just a smaller country and our borders are easily managed.”
While at home, Adams took a break from wrestling Western Conference centers, and joked that he stayed in basketball shape by “boxing out cows” on his farm.
Adams and the rest of his Thunder teammates are participating in mandatory individual workouts at the team’s practice facility before they fly to Disney World next week for training camp. The Thunder (40-24) will resume the season Aug. 1 against the Jazz.
The entire team won’t see each other until it flies to Orlando. They’ve kept in touch the last four months through Zoom meetings.
“I’m not bloody 60, bro,” Adams said when asked how he’s adapting to the technology.
Adapting to the NBA’s restrictive “bubble” environment will be the real challenge.
Adams is impressed with the fan-free plan the NBA has implemented to protect players and coaches from contracting the coronavirus.
“It’s insane the amount of moving parts,” Adams said. “It’s bloody well played, mate.”
“It’s one of those things that will probably be history-book stuff,” he said, also noting the sacrifice players, coaches and staff will be making to be away from their families for what could be a few months.
Adams left not only his family, but also one of the safest countries in the world.
Still, the Thunder veteran didn’t consider opting out of the season restart.
“It’s a safe environment that they’re creating with the top experts, and so it didn’t cross my mind,” Adams said. “I just didn’t even think about it.”