Steven Adams' basketball coach in early days still his biggest fan

By Jimmy Ellingham

She has followed Steven Adams since he turned up at her house in Wellington as a rough and ready schoolboy.

She then moulded the youngster into a basketball world beater, but today Blossom Cameron couldn't watch all of the deciding seventh game of the NBA's Western Conference finals between Adams' Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors.

Yes, she was frustrated the Thunder hadn't sealed the series before game seven, but the reason she couldn't tune in after watching every minute of the first six games was more prosaic.

"I need to take my dog to the vet," she said.

She still caught the first half of the match at a Miramar bar, between the vet visit and her job as a personal trainer at a Les Mills gym.

The Thunder were still leading at halftime when she left but went on to be knocked out of this year's competition.

"These guys don't believe in themselves and then they want to throw it away," she said of the Thunder.

Steven Adam's former coach and guardian Blossom Cameron reacting while watching the NBA playoffs. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Steven Adam's former coach and guardian Blossom Cameron reacting while watching the NBA playoffs. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

Ms Cameron's a hard-core basketball follower, offering advice to the big screen and regularly checking the stats on her NBA app.

She was the coach of the Scots College top basketball team where Adams began to make his mark.

Now retired from that, Ms Cameron still thinks like a coach and often wonders about the on-court personal decisions made by the Thunder.

"I predict I might shoot the coach," she said before the game.

She's effusive in her praise of Adams, who she last spoke to a couple of months ago in regular season.

"He's played brilliantly. He really has. He's played extremely well. We just don't know what's going on in their house."

Unbeatable one day, frustrating the next, the Thunder's ride is over now.

Last year Ms Cameron, who became Adams' legal guardian after he was sent to the capital from the streets of Rotorua, visited Oklahoma.

The sun-kissed land-locked state doesn't have any other sports teams.

Known more for fracking and as the name of a musical, basketball rules.

Ms Cameron said Adams was more well known there than in New Zealand and the whole state got behind the Thunder.

"They love Steven, they love their Kiwi."

Adams has always been a tall lad -- 2m when he was 15 going on 16 -- but Ms Cameron said she never made him the star player who did everything in his school team.

Instead, she instilled the values of hard work.

"He wasn't born an NBA player. He didn't start playing basketball until he was 13."

Now the 2.13m giant is one of the hottest players on the planet. That makes him a target on the court -- witness last week's low blows -- but has also raised the profile of basketball in New Zealand through the roof.

Ms Cameron said interest in the NBA hasn't been that high since the days of Michael Jordan and the unbeatable Chicago Bulls of the 1990s.

With half the game left, Ms Cameron has got to go, not that she's too worried.

"I'm glad I'm taking the dog to the vet because I don't know if I could get through the middle bit."

- NZ Herald

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