Tom Thibodeau called NBA media member and told him to vote Bam Adebayo for DPOY 2 years ago

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Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau called Brian Windhorst and told him to vote Bam Adebayo for the Defensive Player of the Year award two years ago.

Thibodeau was an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics when Kevin Garnett won the 2007-08 Defensive Player of the Year award. Garnett, one of the better defensive players in NBA history, averaged 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in 71 games played that season.

Adebayo has established a reputation as one of the top defenders in the league thanks to his versatility. He possesses the strength to defend some of the best post players in the league as well as the speed to stick with smaller players on the perimeter.

The 26-year-old’s defensive stats with the Heat so far during the 2023-24 regular season speak volumes to his versatility on that end. He is averaging 1.2 steals and 1.0 block per game across 24 appearances with Miami.

In Miami’s eight-point road loss to the Utah Jazz on Dec. 30, Adebayo had one of his most impressive games of the season from a defensive standpoint. He totaled three blocks and three steals in 36 minutes of play. Plus, the big man dropped 28 points, 16 rebounds and three assists while shooting 7-of-13 from the field.

Adebayo is flourishing in his role as the team’s defensive anchor this season, and his contributions on defense have translated into collective success for the Heat. Miami owns the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at this juncture at 20-14 and is behind only the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Celtics in the conference standings.

The Celtics own the best record in the Eastern Conference and NBA at 26-7 and own an 8-2 record over their past 10 games.

The Heat and Adebayo will try for their second consecutive victory when they take on star guard Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns on the road on Friday. Miami is fresh off a 14-point win over the Los Angeles Lakers — who are riding a three-game losing streak — on Jan. 3.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.