Bam Adebayo’s thankful words on replacing Joel Embiid as NBA All-Star Game starter'
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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo was extremely thankful to be named an All-Star Game starter this season, as he’s taking Joel Embiid’s spot in the starter lineup for the Eastern Conference.

The Philadelphia 76ers star is missing the All-Star Game due to a knee injury. Adebayo will be the first Heat player to start an All-Star Game since Dwyane Wade in 2016.

“It’s going to be a dope experience,” Adebayo said after learning Saturday that he’ll start in place of Embiid. “Just going to really cherish that moment and thankful to God and all the people who support me through all the ups and downs. We’ve added something new to our list.”

Adebayo was named to the third All-Star team of his career this season, and the Heat big man has put up some of the best numbers of his career in the 2023-24 campaign.

A four-time All-Defensive selection, Adebayo is averaging 20.2 points (the second-highest mark of his career), 10.6 rebounds (a career-high), 4.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 block per game. He’s shooting 51.0 percent from the field as well.

Adebayo will start alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Damian Lillard and Tyrese Haliburton for the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers, who is coaching the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game on Sunday, explained the decision to put Adebayo in the starting lineup for the contest.

“I looked at Big Joel out, what other (center) do we have on the team, and Bam got the honor,” Rivers said Saturday. “It’s good for him, too. It’s funny, I told him in locker room. He didn’t know. I thought he knew because I told the league yesterday. You could tell he was very happy about it.”

It’s great to see Adebayo get the recognition he deserves for being one of the league’s best big men. He’s yet to make an All-NBA team in his career, but if he keeps improving, Adebayo certainly has a chance to do it soon – maybe even in the 2023-24 season.

Miami has relied on Adebayo heavily this season with Jimmy Butler missing 18 games already. The Heat big man has delivered on both ends of the floor, leading the team into the break on a two-game winning streak.

The team currently holds the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, and it will look to make yet another deep run in the playoffs after making the NBA Finals last season.

Hopefully, Sunday’s All-Star Game start won’t be the only one of Adebayo’s career. Regardless, the Heat star seems excited to get the opportunity to start and suit up amongst some of the NBA’s best players.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.