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Steven Adams reveals close family connection with Israel Adesanya - 'He's my elder'

Steven Adams may be a sports star in his own right but the Kiwi basketballer admits he still has to act cool around UFC champion Israel Adesanya - even though the two have an extended history.

Adams - a well-known fan of mixed martial arts and the UFC in particular - spoke on the Ariel Helwani MMA Show at length about the recent UFC Auckland, his favourite fighters and more before revealing his connection to Adesanya was more than the pair both being New Zealanders.

The Oklahoma City Thunder centre told Helwani one of his older sisters was a childhood friend of the UFC middleweight champion from when they were all growing up in Rotorua.

"He's actually really close with my sister," he told Helwani on the popular MMA podcast.

Israel Adesanya and Steven Adams.

"We are from the same hometown. Izzy is a bit older than me, and I remember him and my sister being friends all through high school."

Adesanya and Adams' sister reconnected at a charity event in Auckland hosted by the basketballer in Auckland last September.

"It was good seeing when we were at the charity event to see them being like, 'what's up?' and they were just back to normal," Adams said.

With that connection in mind, Adams said he shows Adesanya respect when the two are together.

"The relationship there is more I have to respect him as my elder," he said.

"It ain't so much, 'Oh, Adesanya is my boy' - it's more he's my elder so be respectful."

When Helwani teased Adams about how he still asks for photos with Adesanya like a young fan, Adams admitted he does geek out still.

"I tried to be really cool and play it off with him but it was pretty exciting."