Throughout his entire NBA career, Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo has had the benefit of learning from 20-year pro Udonis Haslem.
Adebayo is often seen as a quiet character. Haslem, meanwhile, is viewed as a veteran voice and leader.
But with Adebayo now in his sixth NBA season, it seems like he’s starting to find his voice. During a recent game against the Utah Jazz on New Year’s Eve, the Heat found themselves in a critical spot in which their lead was no longer safe.
The team needed to lock in, and Haslem was just about to speak up and motivate his teammates. That didn’t end up happening. Instead, Adebayo stepped up.
“In Utah,” Haslem said, “before I spoke, he stopped me, and he spoke. I was about to say something and he put his hand on me and he stopped me and he spoke. I was excited to see that.”
“This is an alpha-male sport, and it’s OK to let that other side come out when you step out on the court,” Haslem said. “You don’t have to be that well-mannered kid who was raised in the trailer by your mom in North Carolina.”
The 42-year-old explained what Adebayo’s message was during the critical moment against the Jazz.
“The fouls were starting to go the other way for us, and things could have started going the other way,” Haslem said of the situation the Heat were in before Adebayo spoke up. “You could feel the energy slipping away, and he said, ‘No, no, not tonight.'”
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra added that “everybody” responds to Adebayo when the 25-year-old uses his voice.
“Everybody responds to Bam,” he said. “He doesn’t say something all the time, and when he does say something, everybody is paying attention. But he’s growing in that role.”
Adebayo has had a phenomenal 2022-23 season so far. He has taken his offensive game to new heights, and all Heat fans know what type of impact he makes on the defensive end. The fact that he’s starting to find his voice as a leader is the cherry on top.
The one-time All-Star is averaging 21.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season while shooting 54.4 percent from the field. Over his last four games, he has been especially dominant, averaging 28.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Although Miami is just 21-19 on the season, the campaign Adebayo is having seemingly raises the team’s ceiling this year and beyond. The former lottery pick has a very bright future.
The Heat’s next game is set for Sunday against an extremely hot Brooklyn Nets team. It’ll be interesting to see how Adebayo fares in that matchup.