The NBA world can get pretty creative when it comes to giving nicknames. You may have heard about “The Glove,” “The King,” “Black Mamba,” “Pistol,” “Junkyard Dog,” and “His Airness.” And yet, probably one of the weirdest nicknames in this modern era of basketball is “Aquaman,” which is what they call Steven Adams. Why is Steven Adams called Aquaman? Read on and find out.
Who is Steven Adams?
NBA casuals may not know who Steven Adams is. He is definitely not a household name and has not sniffed an All-Star appearance. But then again, Adams is a fan favorite wherever he goes because of his style of play.
Adams was born and raised in New Zealand but played college ball in Pittsburgh before playing in the NBA as OKC’s 12th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Most of his success was with the Thunder playing alongside superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Not long after his rookie season, Adams went from playing off the bench to a legitimate starter. He helped the Thunder reach the Conference Finals in 2014 and 2016.
After the 2020 season, Adams was traded to New Orleans which he averaged only 7.7 points per game, the lowest since his second year. He was shipped off to Memphis before the 2021-22 season as the team’s starting center. He averages only 7 PPG but leads the team in rebounding (9.0 RPG) while shooting over 52% from the floor.
The funny thing about Adams is his career numbers often belie how interesting of a personality he is. He is quirky and quick-witted off the court and has a rugged, no-nonsense toughness when he is on it. Adams is probably one of the strongest, if not the strongest player in the league, and someone that wouldn’t back down when things got physical.
Not much is known about Adams’ personal life, but he was born in a family of athletes. His father, Sid Adams, is 6-foot-11, and that height gene was undoubtedly passed on to every single one of his 18 children. Adams’ brothers have an average height of 6-foot-9, while his half-sisters were at least six feet. (Steven Adams’s height is officially listed at 6-foot-11.) Valerie Adams was a four-time world champion in shot-put and a two-time Olympic gold medallist, while Lisa Adams is a paralympic shot-putter who also won gold.
Why is Steven Adams Called Aquaman?
From a clean-cut rookie from Pitt, Adams steadily grew his hair and beard during his first three seasons. And as he grew a full-on beard and shaggy hair, his resemblance to actor Jason Momoa became more evident. Momoa played the superhero Aquaman in a film of the same name. In other words, Steven Adams looks like Aquaman, and therefore, that became his nickname in the NBA.
Comparisons with Aquaman
It is easy to see why Steven Adams was given the nickname Aquaman, referring to Jason Momoa’s character. While Adams is from New Zealand and Momoa from Hawaii, both came from an island lifestyle. Hawaiians and the Maori are of Polynesian ancestry.
Adams frequently mentions he is often mistaken as Momoa and vice versa. Adams is obviously much bigger (Momoa is “only” 6-foot-3 while Adams is almost 7-feet), but it makes no difference to casual fans. Of course, being a movie star, Momoa is the more famous of the two, so Adams surely doesn’t mind.
What is Steven Adams Career High?
Here are Steven Adams’ career-best numbers during the regular season:
- 27 points on December 1, 2017, vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
- 23 rebounds on December 19, 2018, vs. Sacramento Kings
- 10 assists on January 6, 2021, vs. OKC Thunder
- 6 blocks on November 16, 2014, vs. Houston Rockets
- 6 steals on March 24, 2014, vs. Denver Nuggets
- 8 free throws made (3 times)
- 12 free throw attempts (3 times)
- 12 offensive rebounds on February 13, 2018, vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
- 16 defensive rebounds on January 21, 2015, vs. Washington Wizards
Steven Adams’ career-highs in the playoffs:
- 19 points on April 27, 2018, vs. Utah Jazz
- 17 rebounds on May 2, 2016, vs. San Antonio Spurs
- 3 steals on April 14, 2019, vs. Portland Trail Blazers
- 5 blocks on May 1, 2014, vs. Memphis Grizzlies
- 3 assists (3 times)
- 7 free throws made on May 24, 2016, vs. Golden State Warriors
- 14 defensive rebounds on May 2, 2016, vs. San Antonio Spurs
15 Things to Know About Steven Adams
1. Steven Adams’ middle name is Funaki. In Japanese, Funaki means ship, boat, tree, or wood.
2. He is the youngest child of his dad Sid and was born when Sid was in his 60s. Unfortunately, Sid Adams, Sr. died of stomach cancer in 2006.
3. Adams actually played professional basketball for the Wellington Saints before going to college. To keep his college eligibility, Adams did not receive any salary from the ballclub.
4. Steven Adams has 17 siblings, but that’s only second to a former OKC teammate. Serge Ibaka actually has 18 brothers and sisters.
5. According to Basketball-Reference, Adams’ other nicknames were Big Kiwi and Kiwi Phenom.
6. Adams’ mother is Tongan and his father is English.
7. Kayla Kiriau is Adams’ girlfriend. She is also from New Zealand and a pretty good baller herself.
8. Adams wears size 19 shoes and according to former teammate Nick Collison, the guy could ‘eat all day.’
9. After his father died, Adams said he quit going to school and almost joined a gang called the Mongrel Mob as a 13-year-old.
10. At least five players already smacked Steven Adams because of his physical play. These were Nate Robinson, Vince Carter, Jordan Hamilton, Nick Young, and Zach Randolph, but there could possibly be more.
11. Adams admitted he knew next to nothing about the players when came into the NBA. That explains why he was so unnerved about anything and that he didn’t care who he’s bodying up against.
12. In an interview with New Zealand’s Sky Sports, Adams said he stopped having haircuts because it costs too much. Instead, he vowed to start growing his hair and to save 60 bucks per month for haircuts.
13. The only three-pointer in his career is a halfcourt heave that looked like a baseball toss.
14. Playing high school basketball in New Zealand, Adams’ coach once promised to give him a new pair of shoes if he managed to get a putback dunk.
15. Steven Adams net worth is estimated to be around $27 million, according to Forbes.
Wrapping Things Up: Why is Steven Adams Called Aquaman?
Not many in the NBA has a personality as colorful as Steven Adams. The 7-foot giant from New Zealand is also known as Aquaman in NBA circles, and it’s really easy to see why. Before we delve into that, let’s learn more about Adams.
Adams was born in New Zealand to an English father and a Tongan mother. His father, Sid, was a former Navy man and had 18 siblings, to which Steven is the youngest. Unfortunately, Sid died in 2006 from stomach cancer. That event, no matter how disastrous, became a turning point in Steven’s life. He became so troubled that his brother Warren had to rescue him and turn Steven’s attention into basketball.
Five years later, Adams played in the NBL and became Rookie of the Year. The next stop was college ball with Pittsburgh and then the OKC Thunder in the NBA, as he became the 12th overall pick in the 2013 Draft.
This is where his physical transformation began. In the next three years of his tenure in Oklahoma City, Adams stopped getting haircuts and grew his mustache to a full-on beard. Not very long, his shaggy hair and beard made him look eerily similar to the actor Jason Momoa. At that time, Momoa has appeared in several cameo roles as the superhero Aquaman before starring in the movie in 2018. That is where Adams got his superhero nickname.
So, if you have ever wondered, “Why is Steven Adams called Aquaman?” there is the long and short of it. Someone could just say straight up, “Steven Adams looks like Aquaman,” but you’ll be missing the very spice of his life story. Hell, even the reason why he stopped getting haircuts was hilarious in itself!