Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo campaigned for his team to receive more respect for its recent success.
The Heat, who made the NBA Finals in the 2022-23 season, have gone to the Finals in two of the last four seasons and have made the Eastern Conference Finals in three of those four campaigns.
Only the Boston Celtics (three Eastern Conference Finals appearances in the last four seasons) have matched the Heat in one of those stats. Boston has made the Finals just once over that four-year stretch.
“The fact that me and my team have been to the Finals twice out of the last four years, but every year they be like, ‘Aw Miami is a dark horse,’” Adebayo said. “‘Miami’s not good enough to do that again. The first time was a fluke.’
“And it’s a lot of disrespect. Like I said, we’ve been to two Finals in the last four years. We’ve been to three Eastern Conference Finals in the last four years, and I don’t think anybody else in the East has done that in the last four years.
“And we’re doing it with 60 percent of our roster being undrafted and helping us win and somewhat at a point, carrying us to the Finals. You know for me, I feel like that should be a bigger story than it is. Everybody always seems to be shocked when we’re at the top again.”
The Heat made the NBA Finals in the 2022-23 season as the No. 8 seed in the East. After losing in the play-in tournament to the Atlanta Hawks, the team turned things around, earning the No. 8 spot with a win over the Chicago Bulls.
While the team did come up short to the Denver Nuggets, losing in five games, it was still an impressive run for Miami.
The team has yet to win a title with Adebayo on the roster, but the Heat have consistently been among the league’s best teams.
Miami earned the No. 1 seed in the 2021-22 season, but outside of that, the Heat have not been a top seed in the East. The team made the NBA Finals as a No. 5 seed in the 2019-20 season and was the No. 6 seed in the East in the 2020-21 season.
It’s unclear what the Heat need to do to gain the respect that Adebayo thinks they deserve from the public, but it’s possible the perception around the team could change this offseason if Miami acquires All-Star guard Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers.
Adding Lillard would be a massive move, especially since the Heat lost two key players this offseason from last season’s team in Gabe Vincent and Max Strus.
Even if the Heat don’t add Lillard, they’ll be in good hands with Adebayo anchoring the team’s defense.
The former first-round pick made his second career All-Star team last season and is one of the best centers in the NBA. He averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game last season.
If Adebayo keeps up that level of play, it’s only a matter of time before he and the Heat start getting the respect they rightfully deserve.