Thunder’s Steven Adams says he’s not a dirty player, Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph believes otherwise

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Thunder big man Steven Adams is a hard-nosed player who has shown that he isn’t afraid to get physical in order to help his team’s cause. His style of play, however, has gotten under his opponent’s skin on more than one occasion.

The most prominent was during last year’s playoff series against the Grizzlies, when Zach Randolph punched Adams late in Game 6 — a decision he regretted severely, since it ultimately got him suspended for Game 7.

These same two teams faced each other in a preseason matchup on Tuesday, and in advance of that, it was clear that Randolph, while taking responsibility for the incident, still holds a grudge.

From Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

“I mean, seven players have gotten suspended because of him. You’ve got to look into that,” Randolph said. “Why are players getting into it with this particular guy?”…

“Honestly, I feel like that was his whole plan and I fell for it,” Randolph told Memphis reporters Monday. “I take responsibility. I’m too old for that…to get me off of my game and I went for it. It bothered me all summer. That was their plan.”

Adams, perhaps to no one’s surprise, shot down the idea that he had some sort of secret plan to target Randolph, as well as the idea that he’s a dirty player.

“No, not at all,” Adams said Tuesday, hours before facing the Grizzlies in the Thunder’s preseason home opener. “I was just playing hard. I mean, it’s unfortunate that it happened. Honestly, I was just focusing on the game.”

Randolph has a point, in that if so many players believe that the tactics Adams uses cross the line to where they feel the need to retaliate physically, then further scrutiny may be warranted, and it wouldn’t be unprecedented; the league looked at Bruce Bowen’s questionable defensive strategies several years ago when he played for the Spurs.