In Rotorua, the fans huddled around their TV sets to watch local boy Steven Adams play the most important game of basketball in his career.

And in Wellington, the 22-year-old's former coach and legal guardian Blossom Cameron was glued to the screen for the first half of yesterday's match between Adams' team Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors.

Newly converted Kiwi basketball fans tuned into the game in their thousands at home and work, knowing that if Adams and his team won, they would go through to the NBA finals.
Unfortunately, the final score, 96-88, went the way of the Warriors.

Ms Cameron 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 Les Mills gym.

Ms Cameron was the coach of the Scots College top basketball team where Adams began to make his mark. A hardcore basketball follower, she offers advice to the big screen and regularly checks the stats on her NBA app.

She was 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."

Last year Ms Cameron, who became Adams' legal guardian after he was sent to the capital from his hometown of Rotorua, visited Oklahoma. She said Adams was more well known there than in New Zealand and the whole state got behind the Thunder.

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.

In Rotorua, Ebrahim Soloman and his father, Louis Te Kani, watched the game at the Ruck 'n Maul sports bar.

"In 2013 I watched him play his first ever game in the US, I've always been a fan.
"I grew up playing with his siblings," Mr Soloman said.

Mr Te Kani said although he was a fan of Adams, he wasn't the only reason he was watching.

"To be perfectly honest, I'm a Golden State Warriors fan, but it's wonderful to see a Rotorua boy do well.

"He inspires a lot of young people. When we have people of his calibre doing beneficial things it can only be beneficial to young people."

Bea Yates, or "Aunty Bea" as she is affectionately known, used to teach Adams at Rotorua Lakes High School. She watched the game from the comfort of her own home.

She said she was disappointed in the result, but was still proud of Adams.

"I thought that they lacked a little bit of fire. They didn't play as well as they normally do. But I'm still really proud of Steven. There will be other chances.

"They were so close to winning. I just want to say keep on trying, there's always another year, always another chance. Kia kaha.

"I still think he was the best-looking one on the court. We have a treasure in our community."