Former Pitt star Steven Adams has become one of the most notable figures in the NBA over the past few years, and one of the 7-foot center’s hallmark traits has been his toughness. That aspect of his game was recently recognized by the league’s general managers, who voted him the toughest player in the NBA in the 2018-19 GM Survey from NBA.com released Wednesday.
Adams topped a list that also included Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green and Miami Heat forward James Johnson in its top five. The Pitt product received 33 percent of the votes, an improvement on last year, when he tied for first place with 14 percent of the votes in the same poll.
While the title of toughest player in the NBA may sound like quite a compliment to many, Adams was unimpressed with the distinction when a reporter asked him to comment.
Steven Adams: Not here for toughest player votes. “Do I get anything? Did I win? Do I get a bonus?” pic.twitter.com/olhOuqd2bF— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) October 3, 2018
“Do I get anything?” Adams asked. “Did I win? Do I get a bonus? That’ll be sick! … I don’t know. ... It seems dumb. It does. … It seems like a weird thing to poll. Guys are just bored, I think.”
While it’s true that the title is insignificant in terms of money and prestige and toughness is somewhat subjective and difficult to measure, Adams’ decision to downplay the poll result also comes off as a bit modest, as he happens to be demonstrably tough.
In addition to showing admirable composure after enduring multiple groin kicks from Green in 2016, Adams has also taken on a role as an enforcer and an effective agent of de-escalation when conflicts break out on the court. This has led to additional situations that have further clarified his toughness, including apparently suffering and self-treating a broken nose back in April.
In addition to all that, Adams has also been physically durable for most of his career, never playing in fewer than 70 games in a season and playing in 80 or more games in three of his five seasons in the NBA. So while Adams may not care to brag on his own behalf, there’s certainly no shortage of evidence to back up the title that was recently bestowed upon him.