NBA: Kiwi Steven Adams explains NZ COVID-19 success to American media

Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams has emerged from coronavirus lockdown re-energised and ready to enter the playoff bubble in Florida next month.

The Oklahoma City Thunder centre was at the epicentre of the competition's suspension in March, when their game against Utah was cancelled before tipoff, after Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.

If the game had proceeded, Adams and Gobert would have gone head to head for most of the 48 minutes, exposing the Kiwi to a high risk of infection. Both teams were quarantined and tested at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and hours later, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was also confirmed with the virus.

The NBA schedule quickly terminated, as other games were postponed, but league commissioner Adam Silver is now pushing ahead with plans to restart the season, with playoff contenders consigned to a 'bubble' at Orlando, Florida.

The proposal is not without challenges - nine players tested positive last week, making 25 in total, while others are refusing to return to their teams, fearing they will be next to catch the virus, with Florida one of the worst states for coronavirus cases.

Some fear a season resumption would detract from the powerful 'Black Lives Matter' movement, with NBA players among those protesting the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota Police last month.

But Adams has wasted no time confirming his enthusiasm to complete the season, with the Thunder (40 wins/24 losses) sitting fifth in the Western Conference and guaranteed a playoff spot.

"I always imagined I would come back," he's told media. "It would have been kind of empty not  finishing the season.

"Every player feels like that too. If ask any player, obviously every player wants to play... I'm on the same boat."

During the NBA hiatus, Adams came back to New Zealand, where he hunkered down on the family farm.

"It's everyone's first instinct when there's a world crisis going on that you want to be near family," he says. "It was relaxing, mate.

"I was on the farm, doing farm work... got a bit of a farmer's tan going on for a little bit. The cows are doing good."

Adams split his time back home between Rotorua and Wellington, where he managed pick-up games to maintain some kind of fitness. Asked to explain New Zealand's success at virtually stamping out the illness, he had to correct one reporter, who referred to "President Ardern".

"We have a really good healthcare system," Adams says. "For the most part, New Zealanders are quite compliant with rules.

"Collectively, all the Kiwis did a good job with it... we're just a smaller country."

Thunder players and staff must maintain strict social distancing during workouts, until they travel to Orlando and take residence at the Walt Disney World Resort, where games will be played with no spectators.

"People can just show up and play, but together as a team and execution of the right timing and plays and coverages and stuff... that's a whole different story," he says.

"It's not really to do with conditioning and stuff like that, it's more to do with your team chemistry and how well you flow together as a team.

"The team that gets it on quick are the ones that come out strong and I'm betting on our team. We've done relatively well with those sort of things, holding together."

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