Not lit­er­a­ture but a life story that is real

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Not sur­pris­ingly the Steven Adams au­to­bi­og­ra­phy is no award-win­ning lit­er­a­ture but I can al­most vi­su­alise the NBA bas­ket­baller scoff­ing at any sug­ges­tions he ever em­barked on that route in shar­ing his life’s tri­als and tribu­la­tions.

For what it’s worth, the no-frills My Life, My Fight — Steven Adams is a fam­ily week­end’s take­away money well spent for par­ents who want their young­sters to stay in the straight and nar­row of the game of life.

The 270-page rev­e­la­tion from the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der cen­tre is a timely snap­shot of part of New Zealand so­ci­ety that sel­dom be­comes a fo­cus for anal­y­sis when stars are born in myr­iad codes.

The 25 year old from Ro­torua is the epit­ome of the have-nots but, unashamedly, in­debted to any­one who can point them in the right di­rec­tion or of­fer fis­cal fil­lip to re­alise their po­ten­tial.

That he chose a friend, Madeleine Chap­man, who he first met while scrim­mag­ing un­der the tute­lage of Kenny McFad­den in Welling­ton, to co-write the book as some­one who had never done it be­fore, speaks vol­umes of his in­ten­tions to keep the prose at al­most street-pa­tois level so that any­one can com­pre­hend it.

Un­der­stand­ably, in parts, Adams talks shop and loses him­self in the jar­gonis­tic realms of hoop heaven but the co-au­thors have the pres­ence of mind to chuck in an id­iot-proof glos­sary of ba­sic bas­ket­ball ter­mi­nol­ogy as well as “bots”, “bougie” and “hori” that is con­fined to Kiwi/Pasi­fika cul­ture.

For some­one who I wrote opin­ion col­umns on, many times sur­mis­ing on spec­u­la­tion, it’s re­as­sur­ing to find I was there or there­abouts in mak­ing as­sump­tions on why he wasn’t too will­ingly to slip on a Tall Black sin­glet just yet.

His at­ti­tude to life is put in per­spec­tive when you read chap­ters per­tain­ing to his fa­ther, the late Sid Adams, an English­man who jumped ship in Bay of Plenty.

The death of the for­mer mer­chant navy man from Bris­tol on May 2, 2007, prompted his med­ley of chil­dren to make up their own ver­sion of a fu­neral rather than dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween a Ton­gan, Ma¯ ori or Toke­laun one.

The en­su­ing de­spon­dency drove Adams to break the shack­les of stereo­typ­ing that scribes are guilty of in map­ping foot­prints ev­ery time a “star” is born.

The late bloomer takes the read­ers from the giddy heights of an NBA ecosys­tem to his hum­ble up­bring­ing in his home­town to the cap­i­tal city where his affin­ity with his provin­cial age-group team has be­come a tem­plate on how he presents him­self on the elite stage nowa­days. The lessons learned from a loss to a Hawke’s Bay age-group side at the na­tion­als isn’t lost on him ei­ther to this day.

“In New Zealand I’m part of a brown mi­nor­ity. In the NBA I’m a white mi­nor­ity. And in Ok­la­homa City I’m some­how both. No mat­ter where I go I don’t seem to fit neatly into a box,” he writes. “Usu­ally it doesn’t mat­ter too much and be­ing in the NBA and earn­ing mil­lions of dol­lars means I don’t have to deal with the dis­crim­i­na­tion some of my fam­ily have had to deal with back home.”

He still walks around in bare feet at the Thun­der car park and has no qualms about call­ing US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump “a dick”.

The only brown boy at­tend­ing Scot’s Col­lege in Welling­ton dur­ing his school days, he has es­tab­lished a schol­ar­ship there for a promis­ing bas­ket­ball player. He reaches for his wal­let when a young­ster can’t af­ford a pair of shoes, sta­tionery or bas­ket­ball trip in New Zealand.

“It’s been a learn­ing curve go­ing from poor and brown to rich and white [ac­cord­ing to the NBA and its fans] but I’m do­ing my best to use my priv­i­lege for good,” he says.

His in­sights on fel­low NBA stars, on a first-name ba­sis, makes you chuckle but it’s not as riv­et­ing as what makes him the tallest Tall Black who has yet to for­mally slip on his coun­try’s sin­glet.

My Life, My Fight — Steven Adams By Steven Adams with Madeleine Chap­man $40, Pen­guin Ran­dom House Steven Adams comes down af­ter a dunk in his Ok­la­homa City Thun­der match against Los An­ge­les Lak­ers.

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