Bam Adebayo is the new captain of the Miami Heat, a position that had been held by Udonis Haslem before the franchise legend retired at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season.
Adebayo, a rising star who is considered by many to be an irreplaceable part of the current Heat era, is taking the honor seriously.
“U.D. isn’t around anymore, so we need a voice who knows what to say,” Adebayo said. “He’s been mentoring me going on seven years at this point. Now he’s moved on. He’s still around. But when we get into games and need somebody to say something, I think I’m that guy.”
The 26-year-old has spent his entire career with the Heat since being drafted by them in 2017. He’s a player that could spend his entire career with the organization if the dominoes fall the right way.
“When you’ve banked so much equity with people and you’ve spent time with them, and you learn about their families, you start to care about people, it’s easier to have that interaction you want from it,” Adebayo said.
“Because it’s not like I met you day one and just started yelling at you. You’d look at me like, ‘Why you yelling?’ But banking equity with somebody, I feel like that’s the difference when you want to have uncomfortable conversion.”
Adebayo, who is often reserved, understands that he may need to be more vocal going forward.
“The biggest thing for me is being more vocal,” he said.
During a conversation with the Miami Herald, Adebayo called it a “surreal moment” to be named the Heat’s new captain.
“It was a surreal moment because I remember walking into this situation just trying to get in where I could fit in,” Adebayo said. “Fast forward to now, the coaching staff, U.D., the organization looking at me in Year 7 like I’m next in line to carry this torch. It’s a real blessing. It definitely comes with a lot of opportunity, but a lot of responsibility. I’m just looking to carry that torch the best way I can just like U.D. did.”
The passing of the touch is certainly a key moment for the organization.
Haslem, who spent 20 seasons with the Heat as a player and helped them win three championships, was able to extend his playing career by being such a positive influence from a culture standpoint. It’s now Adebayo’s job to pick up where the veteran left off.
The added responsibility gives Adebayo a chance to take his game to new heights this season both on and off the court. As he steps up as a leader, he’ll also look to polish his skill set on the offensive end of the floor, where fans have been urging him to become more aggressive.
He’s off to a good start this season, averaging a career-high 16.7 shots per game from the field to go along with a career-best 22.7 points per contest. While the season is very young, the former lottery pick has shown encouraging signs so far.
Adebayo has already been named to two All-Star teams and four All-Defensive teams in his NBA career. He has also helped the Heat reach the NBA Finals twice, with an additional run to the Eastern Conference Finals also mixed in.
This season, Adebayo may have a lot on his plate, but it could end up being a truly special year for him in more ways than one.