Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Basketball: It's all in the genes, says Val

On the eve of today's clash, double Olympic gold medallist Valerie told the  Herald on Sunday  "seeing him develop has been amazing". Photo / Twitter
On the eve of today's clash, double Olympic gold medallist Valerie told the Herald on Sunday "seeing him develop has been amazing". Photo / Twitter

Olympic queen Valerie Adams has revealed her immense pride in younger brother Steven's rise to NBA superstardom.

Steven, 22, puts his body on the line again today as his Oklahoma City Thunder team seeks victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA's Western Conference finals. If they win they will secure a spot in next week's NBA finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 2.13m basketball sensation has rapidly become the face of his side's charge through the play-offs. It is just three years since he was drafted as a rookie, but he is already a global star tipped to become our highest-earning athlete.

On the eve of today's clash, double Olympic gold medallist Valerie told the Herald on Sunday "seeing him develop has been amazing".

Valerie is hunting a third Olympic medal and is training in Switzerland. From there, she said the real hero of the family was their father, Sidney.

"It's a great feeling watching Steven's success but I think the real star has to be our dad for gifting us amazing English genes along with our Tongan genes - the perfect combination, really," she said.

Born to different mothers, Valerie and Steven are two of 18 children fathered by Sidney Adams, a strapping navy man who stood almost 2.1m tall.

A big basketball fan, Valerie, 31, had a chance to pursue a career in the sport but opted for athletics.

Scheduling has prevented her from travelling Stateside to watch her brother play, but Valerie said the pair stay in regular contact.

"I've never been to a game as timetables don't permit but one day I hope to," she said.

Steven has been dubbed the Thunder's "breakout star of the NBA playoffs" by the American press this week and his fun-loving personality off the court has won over fans.

Valerie thinks the pair have common traits.

"We both have a wicked sense of humour - sometimes too much for some people to handle."

Another significant figure in Steven's rise has been American supercoach Jamie Dixon.

In an interview with Tony Veitch on NewstalkZB this afternoon, Dixon, whose accolades include being crowned USA Basketball's national coach of the year in 2009, has revealed how a trip to Wellington eight years ago helped turn Steven from rough diamond into one of the NBA's glimmering gems.

"I looked at his size and knew there was going to be more growth. The size was going to be there but you don't know if a kid is going to be as committed, physical and tough," Dixon said.

"He was surprisingly skilled for a guy his size." Eight years on, Dixon says Steven is one of the NBA's top five centres. He also revealed what makes the colossal Kiwi tick.

"He's so proud of New Zealand. He really wants to do this for the country, for his family and he wants to be successful.

"His goal is to represent New Zealand and to do the best things for his family. And when you stay level-headed, things happen. He's a team man. Guys love playing with him because he's so unselfish."

Val's a 'shoe-in' for Nike style

Valerie Adams' fashion sense has been given the golden tick of approval by leading sports brand Nike.

In her spare time, while preparing to chase a record third successive Olympic shot put title, our golden girl has designed a shoe for Nike - the sportswear company she is signed to as an ambassador.

It will be unveiled on Wednesday, but the Herald on Sunday understands that, appropriately, gold will feature.

Adams is excited to see her design. "It's a really exciting concept. This is really cool for people who love shoes and I can't wait to do my next one."

- Herald on Sunday

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