New Zealander of the Year Finalist 2013: Steven Adams

By Kris Shannon

Before Steven Adams became the 12th player selected in June's NBA Draft, talent spotters said the Kiwi had a personality to match his 2m frame.

With his ability unrefined, it was thought his charm would go unnoticed while he honed his game in the NBA's development league. Instead, when the season began, Adams became an integral member of Oklahoma City Thunder and made as big an impact outside the lines.

The 20-year-old, gregarious and possessing a keen wit, has found the national spotlight in the United States for several episodes that set him apart from the typical rookie.

When Adams' team defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, he offered his hand to opponent Byron Mullens as the clock wound down, but his gesture wasn't reciprocated. Unperturbed, Adams shook his own right hand with his left, creating the "self-handshake" and spawning a video that went viral. His breezy nature was again on display after veteran Vince Carter took exception to contact from the Kiwi and responded with a stiff elbow to the jaw.

Asked by reporters post-game how he felt after the cheap shot, Adams replied, "I feel fine, bro. Thanks."

The Thunder have seen enough to anoint him their back-up centre.

Adams is certainly earning his US$2.09 million ($2.5 million) salary, but his disposition may be worth twice as much.

- APNZ

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