The NBA had better ship some Steven Adams singlets to New Zealand because the country may have just got its first basketball superstar.
The laid-back former Scots College student - brother of double Olympic gold medallist Valerie Adams - became an instant millionaire yesterday when he was picked up by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the draft.
He is guaranteed an annual US$1.7m rookie contract (about NZ$2.2m), which pushes him into the top echelon of New Zealand sports earners alongside Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams.
The 19-year-old's rapid rise up the basketball ladder all stems from a lucky break five years ago, when he was plucked from the Rotorua streets by his brother and sent to Wellington.
He was placed under the care of "fairy godmother" Blossom Cameron, who became his legal guardian. He enrolled at Scots College and soon began to impress.
Yesterday, Cameron rushed from her job as a personal trainer at Les Mills to the Four Kings sports bar in Wellington to watch the draft live on television with friends and colleagues.
There were sighs of relief as the freezing destination of Minnesota and the industrial city of Detroit passed by.
Then the bar went silent as the Thunder - the team Adams had favoured all along - announced their choice.
Cheers and screams followed, as Cameron, friends and colleagues erupted at the news.
"Bloody tornadoes," Cameron yelled as an afterthought when things calmed down.
Joanna Joseph, Adams' GP since he moved to Wellington, was at the bar to support her patient.
"He's my most famous patient now, by a long run," she said.
It was amusing at times being the 2.13-metre Adams' GP during his teenage years, particularly when trying to measure his growth spurts.
"The first time he came to see me we were trying to measure him and we had to stand on a chair and put a ruler on his head, and he just kept growing."
Further north, Adams' Rotorua family were "deliriously happy", older sister Vivian said.
"We're jumping up and down making a lot of noise - you can hear us from out on the street."
Adams had made no secret of wanting to succeed so that he could help his family.
He decided to enter the draft after a trip home to Rotorua. "I don't like seeing them struggle. It's quite sad to see your family struggle," he said.
- The Dominion Post
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