By Ruby Macandrew and Liam Hyslop, stuff.co.nz
NBA basketball superstar Steven Adams is believed to be turning an old trampoline park into his first Kiwi pad – complete with basketball court.
Adams, the 86th richest athlete on the planet whose $33 million annual salary makes him the country’s richest ever sportsman, is understood to have bought a site on Wellington’s Centennial Highway.
The property, on the Ngauranga Gorge, was purchased for $6.1m in March 2018 by a newly established trust – Vulcan Trustee (NZ) Limited – which was set up less than 20 days before the sale. Adams is expected to turn the property into a base for his training camps.
It’s understood workers refitting the industrial building into a base for the 2.13m star centre have signed non disclosure agreements.
When Stuff visited this week, contractors from Naylor Love were on-site and construction was well under way at the back of the building.
Workers at surrounding businesses, who didn’t want to be named, said the back of the building had been empty for about a year and that they had heard through the grapevine that the sudden activity had something to do with “that basketball dude”.
The trust that bought the property has just one director, Martina Evans, a tax consultant and director of Roberts & Associates in Auckland.
On her online bio, Evans’ clients were said to include “high profile sports persons and entertainers.” Additionally, one of her specialist expertise was listed as “use of special purpose vehicles such as Trusts and other hybrid entities”.
A request for comment went unanswered by Evans.
According to those close to him, the NBA player has long talked about setting up a base in the capital to help mentor and coach young basketballers.
While a request for comment from Adams, via the Oklahoma City Thunder media team, went unanswered, his long-time mentor Kenny McFadden said he had “heard talk of [Adams] trying to put something together”.
However McFadden, who is currently the chairperson and director of coaching at the New Zealand Basketball Academy, said if Adams’ was planning on setting something up, it would be outside of the academy.
“What he’s tried to do is put something back into the country. Not only with the camps, but he’s going to do whatever it takes to motivate these kids to give them an opportunity.”
Wellington Saints chairman Nick Mills had heard similar murmurings.
“I heard about two years ago that he was going to buy something in Ngauranga and turn it into a basketball court, but I’ve heard nothing about that since.”
Adams is arguably New Zealand’s most famous sportsman, earning a legion of fans around the world for his uncompromising play, wild hair, and down-to-earth sense of humour.
Adams has been a regular sight at basketball camps around New Zealand during the NBA off-season, but the Wellington address would be his first foot in the New Zealand property market.
Last week, Adams raised hopes that he would play for the Tall Blacks, saying he was speaking to team management about playing at the upcoming Fiba World Cup in China.
His OKC Thunder will play the first of their best-of-seven round one series against the Portland Trailblazers on Monday morning.