You can vote: OKC Thunder campaigning to make Steven Adams New Zealand's first ever NBA All Star

Steven Adams' rise in the NBA continues to reach new heights, with the Oklahoma City star now gaining support from his club in a bid to become New Zealand's first All Star.

After signing a $142 million contract at the start of the season, Adams has returned the faith with career-high per-game numbers in points (12.2), rebounds (7.7), assists (1.1) and steals (1.3) so far this season.

The Kiwi bigman's impact has seen the Thunder organisation backing him for a place in the All Stars Weekend being held in New Orleans next month.

"I wish everyone was like him." Ecstatic fan loses it while celebrating wedding anniversary with husband at OKC's pre-season game against Memphis. Source: Twitter

The event celebrates the best talent in the NBA with a three-point shootout competition for sharpshooters, a dunking competition for high flyers capped off with the All Stars game - a game played by the best players of the NBA.

Players don't make the All Star teams on statistics alone - fan votes and player votes are the only way to make the side, which means teams often focus their efforts promoting one or two players or else they spread their fan base's vote too thinly.

In previous years when Adams had yet to bloom, the Thunder organisation used posters, advertisements and other campaigns to get Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant voted in, which both did regularly.

But with Durant's departure to the Warriors in the offseason, it appears the Thunder are looking for a new man to promote alongside Westbrook, with Adams' consistent performances since the NBA playoffs last season ticking the boxes.

One of the social media posters the Thunder have used to promote voting for Steven Adams.
One of the social media posters the Thunder have used to promote voting for Steven Adams. Source: Oklahoma City Thunder / Facebook

How to vote for Steven Adams

The NBA has devised multiple ways to vote for players to reach the All Stars game to ensure fans from all around the world can get behind their favourites.

The easiest is by writing "#NBAVote" followed by the player's name on Facebook posts or Twitter feeds.

The Thunder have been putting posters and video highlights of Westbrook and Adams on their Facebook page to promote the pair while encouraging fans to comment underneath with their vote.

Fans can also vote on NBA's webpage for an entire starting lineup once every day until voting closes on Sunday 15th January.

Kevin Durant wowed crowds away from the criticism of joining the Golden State Warriors. Source: 1 NEWS

Who is Steven Adams up against?

It's not going to be an easy path for Adams to reach the All Stars game as the Thunder centre is up against plenty of talent for the 12 available slots.

With Oklahoma City sitting in the Western Conference, teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers are all vying to have their players reach the team as well.

As a centre, Adams' biggest competition comes from other "frontcourt" players - meaning he will compete against other forwards and centres for slots in the side looking to take down the Eastern Conference's All Stars.

That means players such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green can all pip the Kiwi to the post - especially since all three have already made the All Stars team before.

But with slots opening up thanks to Kobe Bryant's retirement and injuries, Adams could be in with a shot.

If he is named as an NBA All Star, he would become the first New Zealander in history to do so.

The All Stars Weekend festivities kicks off on Saturday 18 Februrary.

If you would like to vote for Steven Adams via Facebook, head to 1 NEWS NOW's poster and comment "#NBAVote Steven Adams" beneath.

Atlanta will be left with a few battered bodies after Adams muscled up in the paint and didn't stop for anyone.



Opinion: There's more to life and rugby than money, Lima

Before I dive in, I just want to say I understand where Lima Sopoaga is coming from.

For guys from a "low socio-economic background" as he put it in his interview with the Guardian, huge offers from overseas can be tempting and one that All Blacks have started taking more often in recent years.

Whether it’s for family, the future or simply the fortune, there’s no denying Kiwi rugby talent is becoming harder to keep on our shores.

But there's a couple minor details Lima didn't mention when he sent this warning to the All Blacks about the changing times.

One, the guys that are going aren't the go-to stars.

It’s harsh, I know, but let’s be honest. When you look at the list of former All Blacks who have left our shores in recent years for the UK, none of them jump out as the 'one who got away' do they?

Charlies Piutau, Malakai Fekitoa, Aaron Cruden, Steven Luatua and Julian Savea are just a few to leave since the 2015 World Cup but they were fringe players at best.

But, once again, hats off to them. They've gone and secured a future for themselves and their families that some can only dream of and it’s respectable that they adjusted their dreams of being an All Black or a world champion or whatever else for their families. There's no arguing that is a commendable act.

Other guys like Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith left to get a handsome paycheck before they hung up the boots after spending most of their careers adding to the legacy of the black jersey, so there’s not much to argue about there either.

The Chiefs coach said he's focused on the team's quarter-final, not speculation regarding Nonu.
Source: 1 NEWS

But that brings me to the next point.

Money doesn’t last forever but legacies do. For the guys who spend the larger part of their careers chasing and earning the black jersey, it’s almost like their names get woven into its fabric.

Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu – even Tony Woodcock after that stunning 2011 try. World class players at their position who will go down as some of the game’s best and if you look up a picture of them, it’ll be in a black jersey.

They could’ve gone overseas. They could’ve taken the big money. But as McCaw said in his film, he always set out on being a "G.A.B".

What kid doesn’t want that? Fame and riches are well and good but if you are considered one of the best in the world at your position, why would you ever want to leave arguably the best sports team on the planet when you can add to its history?

Sopoaga is right in saying the game has become a business and the "riches of Europe" are going to appeal more and more to "young guys" but going as far as saying "things are starting to change" in relation to the All Blacks is pushing it.

I can’t speak for the likes of the current youthful stars of the All Blacks but it’s fair to say there haven’t been many rumours of them being tempted off-shore by European clubs.

Again, this isn’t a dig at Sopoaga’s choice or anyone else’s for that matter but just a gentle reminder you can’t put a value on the black jersey.

And if you ever need a reminder of that, look up Karl Tu’inukuafe’s debut from earlier this year against France – I think everyone can agree a teary-eyed moment like that is truly priceless.

COVENTRY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08:  Lima Sopoaga of Wasps offloads the ball during a Premiership Rugby match between Wasps and Exeter Chiefs at Ricoh Arena on September 8, 2018 in Coventry, United Kingdom.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Lima Sopoaga of Wasps offloads the ball during a Premiership Rugby match between Wasps and Exeter Chiefs at Ricoh Arena in Coventry, United Kingdom. Source: Getty

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'It was best for me to go' – Reformed Corey Webster leaving troubled past behind in second Breakers stint

Corey Webster is back at the Breakers and ready to prove he's grown up.

Webster's returned to his home club after more than a year away in Perth, Israel and China and while he's got the same scintillating skills, there's something new about him.

After going out of his comfort zone overseas, the 29-year-old is adamant he's learned from his mistakes and ready to lead by example.

"I had some personal things to work on and I think it was best for me to go away at that time and work on myself as a person and my game and I think I've come back better than ever."

He’s now determined on proving just that.

Webster's off-court indiscretions, including his discharge without conviction in an assault case last year, have been well publicised but he's put those firmly in the past.

The guard says his move overseas helped him do move forward.

"It was just something that I had to do.

"This is my life. Basketball is my life and I'm a professional and it's something that had to be done."

Webster and the Breakers begin their season next month at Spark Arena when they host the Brisbane Bullets on Thursday 11 October.

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Opinion: Why is everyone so obsessed with the Warriors losing and pinning it all on Shaun Johnson?

Why is everyone so obsessed with the Warriors losing and more to the point, pinning it all on Shaun Johnson?

After bowing out of the NRL Playoffs in Sydney against the Panthers on Saturday night, we’ve had critics call Johnson a $1 million flop and a former coach say they shouldn’t renew his contract.

All on one performance.

Sure, losing hurts and no fan wants to see their team's season ended without a trophy being hoisted but why is it that the Warriors and especially Johnson are copping so much heat when what they’ve accomplished this year is something to applaud.

This is a club that was literally the laughing stock of the competition at the start of 2018, when Billy Slater was effectively laughed off an Aussie footy show for calling them the NRL's club to watch. Were those critics laughing on Saturday?

To answer that, no. They nervously watched as the Warriors started strong then fizzled out. Something that this club has done once or twice over the years.

So what happens? Those critics start taking aim at a guy who has shown loyalty and dedication to a club his entire career and had to play his first knockout match in seven years against a halves combo who shut down Queensland this year.

Yes, Johnson had a bad game. But to label him a flop and suggest he should be thrown to the wolves and replaced by a guy who outperformed him in one playoff match is exaggeration at its worst.

This is the same guy people were applauding a few weeks back ago for dismantling the same club, featuring an outclassed Nathan Cleary, for his role in cementing the Warriors their first playoff spot in seven years.

If we're going to live in the world of "what ifs" why not extend it to the rest of the season and ask "what if we won two more games to finish in the top four?" That's right. Just two games would've done it but can that be pinned solely on Johnson as well? No.

What Johnson, Stephen Kearney, the front office and the club in general have managed to do this year in surpassing expectations and finally returning New Zealand rugby league to the NRL playoffs should be celebrated.

Not to mention the way they've conducted themselves on and off the pitch. No Mad Monday hooliganism or salary cap issues. Just a squad trying their best to give back to the loyal fans who have stuck by them forever.

It sucks the season is over but underneath it all there's something there that hasn't been for a long time – hope.

Hope that this is the foundation for another era of high-flying, big-hitting, Warriors footy that will culminate in the club's first title.

So whether you're a critic, a former coach, a "day one" or bandwagon fan, try to celebrate this top eight finish and look forward to what Johnson and Co. can do next season.

As they say, it's just a matter of faith.

Shaun Johnson.
NRL Premiership rugby league. Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Friday 24 August 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Shaun Johnson. Source: Photosport


Argentina will be a World Cup powerhouse and Mo'unga just needs more time: Five things from All Blacks v Pumas

With the dust settling on Nelson's first All Blacks Test, a couple of important lessons surfaced from last night's 46-24 win - and it wasn't just from the hometown heroes.

1. Nelson is an international rugby venue

What an atmosphere in Trafalgar Park! How it took so long for Nelson to get an All Blacks Test is beyond me (considering they hosted Rugby World Cup matches in 2011!) but the community followed up on their warm hospitality from throughout the week with a great turn out last night.

Sold out crowd. Sea of black. Great weather and a great pitch. Can you ask for much more?

Kieran Read and Steve Hansen have already expressed interest in returning to Nelson and you can't really blame them after the week they had - Read has a Key to the City from the mayor now too so he should be able to get back in!

2. The All Blacks forward pack is a dominant force right now

Frizell had a big outing against Argentina which he topped off with a try in front of his adopted hometown fans. Source: 1 NEWS

They've always been a strong pack but last night was a big statement at set piece. Karl Tu'inukuafe's presence in the front row led to two big shoves and he was rewarded with penalties. It wasn't just him but for a first Test start, it deserved a mention. 

But considering how early they lost Brodie Retallick and the notoriously-physical pack they were up against in the Pumas, the forwards last night delivered a big platform.

3. Richie Mo’unga just needs more time

Let's be honest. It wasn't the dream performance many were hoping for. It probably didn't help that Beauden Barrett had a four-try performance against the Wallabies before handing over the No.10 jersey too.

But it was apparent from the early penalty kick that failed to find touch the Crusader was fielding some nerves and it didn't help the man outside him he trained with all week, Ngani Laumape, was gone early in the match too.

Hansen and Foster have already stated they didn't expect a world class performance in the match but emphasised after the match what was important.

"We'll go through and review some of the decisions, how he felt, how he saw things, the work ons and the learnings from that."

Good things take time, people.

4. Argentina will be a powerhouse at next year’s World Cup

Mario Ledesma says some players had faith but the squad on the whole is yet to see their potential. Source: 1 NEWS

The scoreline really isn't a reflection of how well the Pumas played last night. In all fairness, it was probably one of the All Blacks' hardest Tests to date this year.

And most of it has to do with the stellar backline Ledesma has moulded.

Between the back three all shining at different moments in the night with breaks and Nico Sánchez continuing to hone his playmaking style at No.10, this Pumas outfit showed last night they can go toe-to-toe with the world's best.

If they can steal a win in Australia next week, which they absolutely can, they'll be well on their way to another strong World Cup run in Japan next year.

Thank goodness they're not in our pool for once.

5. It's scary how much depth we have in NZ

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi made his first appearance in the black jersey last night. Source: 1 NEWS

Think about it. Shannon Frizell in his second Test dazzled in front of his adopted hometown last night. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi officially became an All Black and capped off his debut with a no-look pass that set up a stellar late try. We've already discussed Tu'inukuafe.

And then you have guys like Damian McKenzie coming off the bench.

The programme Hansen and Co. have set up to nurture and develop not just a stellar All Blacks XV but rather an entire squad is something to be marvelled and will surely help us in Japan next year.

Even with injuries to the likes of Retallick (speedy recovery!), we're able to call in guys like Patrick Tuipulotu who turned back the clock on Friday night with a hat-trick against Tasman.

In summary, we're a darn good rugby union nation.

Steve Hansen and Ian Foster said the young first-five will learn from the experience. Source: 1 NEWS