OKC Thunder big man Steven Adams described Golden State Warriors guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson as “quick little monkeys” in a postgame interview that got a lot of attention after a Thunder game 1 win. Adams apologized afterwards, realizing his words were offensive to some: “I wasn’t thinking straight,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to upset anyone, but I’m truly sorry. It was just a poor choice of words. I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around.”
Adams didn’t mean any harm — he was actually complimenting the elusiveness and speed of the so-called Splash Brothers. But the monkey reference has a history in racist speech, and Adams quickly sought to correct himself. A native New Zealander and youngest of 18 children, Adams is from the bush, where respect for small speedy animals is part of life. (“I’d never worn a tie before. I was a bushman,” he told Sports Illustrated about going to high school.) The real problem with the unfortunate characterization is the strange idea that Adams thinks Curry and Thompson are little. Curry isn’t large for the NBA, though he stands 6′ 3″. Klay Thompson is 6′ 7″ tall. That’s the real story — that the NBA is so big now that 6’7″ Klay Thompson is considered one of those quick little guys.