Before Tuesday’s game between the United States and New Zealand, the “Tall Blacks” performed the traditional Maori Haka. In case you did not know, the Haka is a traditional pre-war dance that has very deep meanings in New Zealand culture. It has become a sign of respect between opponents before they do battle and is often a little spectacle before New Zealand national sporting events.
It is a way to share two people’s cultures.
Andre Iguodala did not see things that way. Nor did he probably realize the cultural significance — or, frankly, how common it is for New Zealand national teams to perform the dance before their games.
Shortly after Team USA wrapped up their win, the Warriors forward and former Team USA member compared the Haka to the “A-town stump”:
New Zealand thought they dance was gone intimidate us…. That ain't nothing but the A town stump! #GoUSA #FIBAWorldCup2014
— Andre Iguodala (@andre) September 2, 2014
That it certainly is not.
New Zealand NBAer Steven Adams was not too thrilled with Iguodala’s assessment of his country’s culture. In a since deleted tweet, Adams said: “show some respect for my culture.”
A simple, yet poignant response.
Adams is a very proud New Zealander (although he decided to sit out on the World Cup this summer after a long rookie season that saw him contribute deep into the Western Conference Finals).
At Summer League in Orlando, a reporter asked him about his tattoos. Adams explained that many of his tattoos represent his Tonga heritage. The tattoos represent the tribes that both his parents come from.
He is clearly someone very proud of his heritage and where he comes from. And he carries the flag in the league now for his country (which is quietly very decent at basketball).
Iguodala certainly should be a bit more respectful of another nation’s culture. That is part of the greatness of international competition. And who is to say, Iguodala did not find a way to contact Adams and apologize directly. He could have gotten caught up in the postgame gloating of a U.S. win.