Not literature but a life story that is real
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.