Steven Adams comes clean on why Russell Westbrook is 'legit dude' and great team-mate
Steven Adams likes to eavesdrop in the shower, which he admits is "weird" but also enlightening when it comes to his superstar team-mate Russell Westbrook.
The Oklahoma City Thunder's fourth-year centre from New Zealand was at his entertaining best when meeting with media on Thursday (NZ time) for his mandatory "exit interview" following the team's elimination from the NBA playoffs in Houston less than 24 hours earlier.
As well as providing typically snappy insight into such important topics as his plans to take his hair growth off the charts and the prospect of bringing more of his team-mates to New Zealand over the off-season, the 23-year-old Kiwi provided a compelling snapshot of why Westbrook is such a beloved team-mate.
The OKC point guard has just completed a historic NBA campaign, becoming just the second player ever to average a triple-double (31.6ppg, 10.7rpg, 10.4apg) for the regular season, and posting a record 42 triple-doubles in the process.
He repeated the dose in the playoffs when he averaged a triple-double in the 4-1 Western Conference first-round series defeat against the Houston Rockets, going for 37.4 points, 11.6 rebounds and 10.8 assists a game as the Thunder came up predictably short against the conference's No 3 seeds. OKC were plus-15 while Westbrook was on court through the five games, and minus-58 over the sparing minutes he was rested.
But Adams said as a team-mate he preferred to look beyond the numbers when it comes to his point guard who is favourite to be named the league's MVP at the end-of-season awards in June.
"Statistically it was amazing, ridiculous from what I've seen before," he said of Westbrook's historic campaign. "That's from the outside. [But] the players don't actually care about what the stats are. He has an amazing night and you're like obviously it's amazing.
Steven Adams says he will cut hair when it starts to yield diminishing returns pic.twitter.com/Udg5dPjFAF— Nikki Kay (@NikkiKayKFOR) April 26, 2017
"It just comes down to him being awesome ─ a really good dude, and he really tries to help you out in whatever way he can and improve your game. That's why it's fun to play with him.
"Let's be fair, he is out there [in terms of ability] but he is really trying to brings us with him the best he can. That's the biggest thing as someone playing with him that stuck out."
Then Adams was asked if he was ever "amazed" by anything Westbrook did this season, and his response stunned the assembled media with its, er, transparency.
"Honestly, there was nothing in the game," he responded. "One of our players was having a tough time and I was kinda in the background hidden. I wasn't stalking or anything; I was taking a shower.
"I kinda peeped over. He was having a word, really trying just bring one of our team-mates up, help him out mentally and like get him back on track.
"I listened to most of the conversation and it was really good stuff what he was saying. That's when I realised this guy is really a legit dude for doing that. Most players it would be like 'we all have our troubles ... ah, whatever", but he went out of his way to really help the dude out."
So, not stalking as much as eavesdropping?
Adams: "Eavesdropping ... in the shower, naked. Yeah, so it is weird, it is weird. Sorry mate."
The 2.13m New Zealander, who next season will begin his four-year US$100 million contract extension with the Thunder, also provided possibly the first ever use of the phrase "diminishing returns" when asked about hair.
He said he didn't know how long he might grow his now trademark flowing locks, but admitted: "It's kinda weird, it's kinda gross. It is [gross] 'cause it's real straggly. I don't know [when I'll cut it], I'll just wait until I get diminishing returns. It's not there yet, so I'll wait till it plateaus and then I'll probably cut it."
He also indicated his annual off-season visit to New Zealand had become kinda a thing at the Thunder, with interest high among his team-mates in the sojourn down under.
Asked which team-mates he was inviting this off-season, he replied: "Only the people that haven't been. All other ones I haven't invited them, they just invite themselves which sucks.
"They just think they're coming along and I'm trying to stop them at the border. Lock them out. Make sure everyone gets to come down and see what it's about having a good time."
Adams also covered off some hoops in his final chat with the media in OKC.
Among the topics were whether he hoped to evolve his jump shot over the summer: "I'm capable of doing it. Just that it will suck; it will be a terrible shot. It's got to [get to] that point where it's going to help the team and not screw us up. Eventually. We'll see what the coaches say."
On the changes this season with the Thunder: "It comes down to having a good group of guys. The mentality of it was we weren't trying to compete with what we were in the past, just trying to plug our way forward.
"Very little credit goes to the player. The front office does a great job of making sure the dude is a good dude. These dudes here, man, do an amazing job so everyone in the facility is a good person."
On being in a culturally diverse team: "I feel kind of worldyish. As worldly as you can feel."
And on the improvements defensively limited fellow 'Stache brother' Enes Kanter needs to make: "I have huge expectations of him ... his lateral speed is not as good, [but] it's a physical thing. It's one of those things you've kinda got it or you don't. It's adjustments you make with what you have ... that's for him to figure out."