Grant Chapman: Hang on to those Steven Adams OKC singlets, they're now collectors' items

OPINION: If this was the United States, someone somewhere would have burned their Oklahoma City Thunder No.12 singlet and posted the footage on social media by now.

But this is New Zealand and if 2020 has shown us one thing, it’s that we are - thankfully - not American.

That’s not to say no Kiwi has burnt their Steven Adams jersey - it just hasn’t gone viral yet.

Besides, at $100 a pop, those replica NBA tops aren’t something you dispense with frivolously.

Just because OKC are trading our Kiwi boy to New Orleans Pelicans, there’s no reason for him - or us - to get all emotional.

Firstly, Adams will understand by now that the NBA is a business and very few players get to stay anywhere very long. That’s why most of them rent.

As near as we can calculate, Adams has had about 60 teammates in the seven seasons since he was drafted, give or take a few one-game walk-ons.

The only player left from when he arrived in 2013 is defensive juggernaut Andre Roberson, who was taken in the same draft, but has spent most of the last two seasons battling debilitating injury.

Over that period, OKC fans have seen many legitimate All-Stars and future/past NBA champions come and go - beginning with James Harden, who went to Houston Rockets in the  trade that brought Adams to Oklahoma.

Caron Butler, Kevin Durant, Derek Fisher, Kendrick Perkins, Norris Cole, Serge Ibaka, Nazr Mohammed and Markieff Morris have all won titles on other teams. You won't have heard of some of them.

Steven Adams with OKC teammates
Steven Adams with OKC teammates. Photo credit: Getty

Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Russell Westbrook, DJ Augustin, Enes Kanter, Taj Gibson, Jerami Grant, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Nerlens Noel, Dennis Schroder, Danillo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul are all certainly good enough to contribute on title-winning rosters.

None found that success at the Thunder.

Adams’ longevity in the ‘Sooner State’ speaks volumes for his physical abilities, his durability, his media charm, his team-first attitude and his popularity in the community - but if he couldn’t win a title with all the talent that has passed through during his tenure, he was never going to realise that dream here.

Sure, it would have been nice to see him play out his career for one team - but nice doesn’t pay the bills.

In a way, even trading him to the 'Pels' - a team on the rise, with a bona fide superstar already in place - shows how much OKC management respect their stalwart. Go win your title there, young man.

At least they didn’t banish him to Minnesota. Or Sacramento.

Adams was never good enough to lead Oklahoma all the way and his teammates were usually too dysfunctional to carry him there. It was time for a change of scenery. 

Steven Adams posts up Jaxson Hayes of New Orleans
Steven Adams posts up Jaxson Hayes of New Orleans. Photo credit: Getty

On the other hand, New Orleans offer a squad of up-and-coming stars like Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, desperate for seasoned, hard-nosed veterans to show the way. 

With everything Adams has learned during the first stage of his career, he’s the perfect addition to this mix.

In the next few days, he will post a heartfelt goodbye to Oklahoma City fans, making them love him even more.

For seven years, OKC have also been New Zealand’s team. 

That love affair may be over and Pelicans singlets may now become the preferred stocking filler this Christmas, but the Thunder throwbacks still attest that you were a fan from the start - not merely a bandwagon jumper.

Grant Chapman is Newshub online sports editor.