Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams came into the NBA as a rookie last season that was determined to prove that he was no pushover. The New Zealander certainly showed his Maori roots in getting confrontational with several established NBA bigs.
The most prominent of his flareups last year was during the playoff series against the Grizzlies, when Zach Randolph punched Adams late in Game 6 — a decision that got Z-Bo suspended for a Game 7 the Thunder would win to progress.
These same two teams faced each other in a preseason matchup on Tuesday, and in advance of that, it was clear that Randolph, while taking responsibility for the incident, still holds a grudge against the precocious New Zealander.
“I mean, seven players have gotten suspended because of him. You’ve got to look into that,” Randolph said according to the Oklahoman. “Why are players getting into it with this particular guy?”…
“Honestly, I feel like that was his whole plan and I fell for it,” Randolph told Memphis reporters Monday. “I take responsibility. I’m too old for that…to get me off of my game and I went for it. It bothered me all summer. That was their plan.”
Adams, perhaps to no one’s surprise, shot down the idea that he had some sort of secret plan to target Randolph, as well as the idea that he’s a dirty player.
“No, not at all,” Adams said Tuesday, hours before facing the Grizzlies in the Thunder’s preseason home opener. “I was just playing hard. I mean, it’s unfortunate that it happened. Honestly, I was just focusing on the game.”
I'm not sure that Randolph really has a point here in all honesty. It seems like Z-Bo and other players in the NBA don't expect an OKC backup center - and maybe a white guy - to be as physical and competitive on the glass. He's a player you would love on your team but hate if he was playing against like you, like a modern day Dennis Rodman.