I was at the gym in Harlem when a couple of massive dudes on the bench press sat up to watch TV. It was a mid-afternoon debate on ESPN, and a table of basketball analysts was agonising over a certain mustachioed 2.1m centre.

"Was OKC's Steven Adams Being Racist?" cried the banner at the foot of the screen.

They played a clip of Steve being interviewed after his team's upset victory in the first game of the Western Conference Playoffs. Live before tens of millions of viewers and still catching his breath, Adams described the difficulty of defending "quick little monkey" opponents.

Sure, it wasn't a great choice of words, but it should only be noted as an unusually apt metaphor for describing the speed and agility of Golden State's star players.


If Adams was being racist then I'm the next LeBron James.

Fortunately ESPN saw sense. They pulled up Adams' apology, wrote off his mistake as Kiwi naivety and moved on to the Yankees.

Still, before the guys on the bench press, I sensed an urge to come to Adams' defence.

"I'm from the same country as that guy." I blurted. "We have all sorts of words and phrases Americans don't understand."

"Have you heard of a 'fortnight', or 'surname' or 'Hamish'?"

"What?" said the guy in the spotting position. "Exactly," I said.

The real shame in the whole situation was that Adams' post-match interview threatened to overshadow his performance - and his performance in the NBA this season has been nothing short of epic.

And aside from the obvious faux pas, his demeanour in that interview was no different from his demeanour in the many times I've interviewed him during his time in the US.

From university in mid-winter Pennsylvania to the NBA combine, the draft and finally to OKC, the Adams I know has gone from being a kid with no money on his cellphone to a bona fide NBA star.

And he hasn't changed a bit.

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