He encouraged, grunted, growled, snarled, teased and swatted shots liberally but it was just NBA super star Steven Adams at his playful best in Napier today.
Adams had lured a hive of 150 youngsters, aged from 7 to 13, to the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, swarming around like bees in bright blue shirts, with a bold "S" emblazoned in the front and "12 Adams" on the back.
Any other day the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) centre would have passed off as a volunteer helper in the conscripted grey hoodie sporting "Crew" on the back but today he was conspicuous in all of his 2.13m frame.
Hawke's Bay was in the grips of the Steven Adams mania, starting with a 7am breakfast session with the Paul Henare and Paora Winitana Basketball Academy before he had quietly slipped into the throngs of excited children.
If the crisp zero-degree frost had an impact on Adams it was hard to predict but he looked unfazed as he took part in a robust fun-orientated clinic with other volunteers, such as former Tall Blacks and Hawks basketballers Willie Burton, Benny Hill, Everard Bartlett as well as former Hawks coach Curtis Wooten.
The pony-tailed one had dauntingly put up one giant screen, thrown his long arms and legs to try to put off children from their lay ups or shots but holding that infectious smile throughout. At the sound of the hooter he helped muster the energetic bundles of energy for a chant and cheer in a post-scrimmage huddle before pulling away to a secluded spot for a squat to rest his legs for the next group.
"Man, that's tough eh?" Adams said to one youngster after towering over him to deny him a basket at the clinic held with the help of Bay sponsors and in conjunction with the Jarrod Cunningham Youth Sport Trust and the Hastings District Council. "Oh never mind, you can do it the next time."
With another clinic for teenagers in the afternoon, it was fair to say a selfless Adams was in for a demanding day, not that he would have been complaining.
An army of parents, lucky enough to be there from work, had strategically parked themselves at vantage points on the balcony of the PG Arena to use myriad electronic gadgets, including cellphones, to capture the moment at the house of the Hawks which proudly dangled 10 giant Adams banners from the ceiling.
As for the bright-eyed budding basketballers, thrills and spills, amid giggles and laughter, were the order of the day away from school.
"It's a bit sad but he was really funny," said Bobbi Crawford, 12, of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Mangatuna in Dannevirke, after a grinning Adams had swatted her from the rim.
Said Wairangi Gillies, 10, of Waimarama School: "It was fun. He's a big guy."
Sports Pathway trustee Zak Lassey, of Tauranga, who organises the road show around the country, said the 300 participants had received a ball, T-shirt, take-home promotion package of Adams and were treated to lunch at the PG Arena.
They also were exposed to a Tu Kaha Values programme-run mobile classroom session under the tutelage of Punahouora Munro-Harris, of Tauranga, who had made the trip down to Invercargill and back, with her father at the wheel, and intended to finish in Whangarei for the final clinic.
"The programme has been going on for two years and we help about 3000 kids each year," said Munro-Harris who started working for it in May.
The white inside walls of the truck-trailer classroom sports inspirational quotes from Martin Luther King jr, Albert Einstein, Mahatama Gandhi, Malcolm X and Michael Jordan.
She said the session wasn't just about the code but empowering youngsters to become productive and caring members of society.