Yalden: NZ basketball will miss Adams big time

NIGEL YALDEN
Last updated 05:00 07/06/2014

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OPINION: What are the two things that Basketball New Zealand needs more than anything right row?

That's right . . . money and exposure.

And that's the reason why Steven Adams skipping the Tall Blacks' World Championship campaign is such a massive blow to the governing body.

Over the course of his rookie year in the NBA, the 20-year-old Oklahoma City Thunder centre has quickly become the face of the sport in this country.

Just keep an eye out next time you wander through a major shopping centre.

Dollars to donuts you will see someone wearing OKC apparel, be it a cap, T-shirt, hooded sweatshirt or replica playing singlet.

There has been a good level of support for the side in New Zealand, given the arrival, impact and appeal of this year's NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant and dynamic point guard Russell Westbrook to basketball fans worldwide.

However, the addition of Adams to the Thunder playing roster meant that casual fans of the game in this country attached themselves to Oklahoma City, thus forming a bond to game of basketball.

And why wouldn't you?

Steven Adams is a good-looking, charismatic (in his own unique way) young man, and barring injury is going to be an excellent NBA centre for a long time. As a result he's now very recognisable to the New Zealand public as a whole.

With him on the roster, Basketball NZ CEO Iain Potter would have had a great asset that he could use to help leverage much need sponsorship dollars.

It would also be nice to think that Steven Adams' success in the NBA would have helped Basketball NZ secure more funding from High Performance Sport New Zealand.

Under the current funding model it doesn't, though personally, getting players into the US collegiate system and then seeing them graduate to play in any of the top professional leagues around world should form the basis of how basketball should be measured in terms of success.

That said, Basketball New Zealand needs to stop sulking about Adams' decision, or should we say the Oklahoma City Thunder's decision.

The prospect of the Thunder releasing Adams for World Championship duty was non-existent, given general manager Sam Presti's long-held policy of keeping draft picks around the franchise complex following their rookie year.

Iain Potter should have expected and planned for that.

Basketball NZ is coming across as very amateurish and that is something that needs to be addressed quickly.

The Oklahoma City Thunder need to know that in years to come, when they do choose to release Steven Adams for future World Championships or Olympic campaigns, they are placing their asset, which they are investing significant amounts of time and money into developing, in the hands of an organisation that will handle that responsibility of their collective interests in a professional manner.

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Nigel Yalden is a Waikato-based sports commentator for Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport.

- Waikato Times

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