Sometimes, maybe most of the time, being a sports fan hurts your feelings.
The thrill of a big win is the dopamine rush that keeps you going, following your team and buying overpriced merchandise and $10 beers at the arena. But invariably, something happens that sucks the wind out of you.
This last weekend, Oklahoma City let out a loud collective ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!’ upon hearing the news that beloved Thunder center Steven Adams was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in a 4-team deal. In Sam Presti’s determined quest to own every single draft pick for the next decade, he jettisoned the one player that bound OKC fans together.
It’s clear that Presti is trying to gut the team for a rebuild, but I think it’s important to sometimes retain players that fans want to see. Adams is still a talented player who is a terrifying beast in the paint. He was also the soul of the team in a way. He’s hillarious, has a humble personality, and always has a good quip in the press pool. If there’s any Thunder player past or present that you’d wanna hang out with, it’s Steven Adams. He just seems like a cool dude who happens to be seven feet tall and built like a superhero.
I’m trying really hard to not write this like a eulogy, because in his own words:
Steven Adams getting traded reminds me of when someone asked him in 2017 media day if he missed his close buddy, Enes Kanter, who had been dealt to the Knicks.
Steven immediately responded, “I mean, he didn’t die, mate”
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) November 21, 2020
So I’ll still root for him wherever he goes, but damnit I really wanted him to be the next Nick Collison, the guy who stuck around his whole career with the Thunder and retired here. And with him leaving, it is truly closing the curtain on an entire era of the team. Remember this squad?
Instead of dwelling, let’s celebrate the fun memories. He was at his off-the-court peak when Enes Kanter was playing here. They’re both really funny and kinda awkward dudes from very different backgrounds, and their bromance was so pure and good. The Stache Brothers were always making goofy videos for social media, and they showed how athletes can be more than just jocks playing sports. There can be real male friendship in a sphere that is often associated with macho masculinity.
There are also many legends about local sightings of Steven Adams. My favorite, which I cannot confirm or deny but choose to believe, is this one:
I’ll honor Steven Adam’s legacy by telling the internet this amazing story.
It was Nick Collison’s bday party at Empire. My friend opened the bathroom door and saw this girl giving Steven Adam’s a full on BJ. The bathroom lock was broken 😅
— Lil Boosie (@KristinaBelloXX) November 21, 2020
There was also the time when he worked the counter at Braum’s, and for some reason, I’m assuming that’s the only shift in history where everyone’s order was correct and timely because that’s the kind of badass he is:
My personal anecdote is constantly seeing him come into the grocery store I used to work at. When you see this massive, larger than life hairy guy walking the aisles, it’s hard for him not to grab your attention. One time, I was checking out with something to eat on my lunch break and he was behind me in line with two gallons of whole milk and a few massive sandwiches, and I knew he was gonna put all that down in one sitting.
My bro crush on Steven Adams went so far that I even wrote a series of espionage/buddy cop fan-fiction about him, and was then subsequently interviewed by Vice News about it. Obviously, my Steven Adams fandom runs deep, so this trade really hurts.
I hope he has a good run in New Orleans though. Him and Zion in the front court will be beastly, and the Pelicans finally seem to be shaping up in a good direction. And I’m sure he’s gonna love the food.
Steven, you’ll always get a standing ovation anytime you play in OKC. Thanks for the good times, and as they say in Māori, kia ora.