AUCKLAND (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - There is a collective sense of pride and awe in New Zealand that giant Kiwi Steven Adams has just agreed to a lucrative four-year contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kirk Penney, who played for the national team for many years, said to stuff.co.nz: "It's all been building up to this and it is a life-changing amount of money. I would hope that now he could rest easy knowing he's achieved this much and could put on the black singlet. That would be my take watching how it's played out.
"I know he has lot of pride in New Zealand and has said he would like to play for the Tall Blacks at some point. When's a better time?"
National team coach Paul Henare had hoped Adams would play at the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in the Philippines but in the end, he did not. New Zealand were very good but came up short of qualification for Rio.
Henare says that Adams is making an impact on the sport in New Zealand even if he's not with the Tall Blacks.
"All the awareness and publicity will be getting more and more kids picking up a basketball and aspiring to be like Steve and play in the NBA," Henare said. "That's probably the biggest impact he can have. He's already opened a pathway for scouts ... they'll be looking for the next Steven Adams-type players down here."
New Zealand Basketball chief executive Iain Potter was full of excitement for Adams and the sport in the country.
"His success going back three or four years, going off to US college (Adams spent a year in American college basketball with Pittsburgh) and then getting drafted and going to OKC just provided a constant positive media attention for four years now," Potter said to the New Zealand Herald.
"It has highlighted the opportunities the US college system has. There are over 100 New Zealand basketball kids playing in US colleges now. The Adams factor has contributed significantly to that just by putting the spotlight on what is possible."
Henare has not contacted Adams since he got a new contract.
"Right now it's just about celebrating what an awesome day it is for him and his family," Henare said. "It's an amazing achievement for someone who has put a lot of work in. He'll be pretty busy for a while and talking to a lot of people, and I'll just let that settle down before I touch base with him."
New Zealand will next summer play in the FIBA Asia Cup 2017, and then in November launch their campaign for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. Adams is averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds after three games for Oklahoma City in the NBA this season.