Q&A: Bam Adebayo On Emulating Garnett, Poetry, and Best Gamer on the Heat?

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To commemorate the 20th-year anniversary of the Heat Academy Program, the Miami Heat hosted a back-to-school event at Paul Laurence Dunbar K-8 Center on Monday where Heat players Bam Adebayo, Rodney McGruder, Duncan Robinson, Yante Maten and team staff alike passed out school supplies to kids before officially kicking off the new school year with a pep rally featuring Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

I got the opportunity to talk with Adebayo for a few minutes just outside a cafeteria filled with energetic kids cheering and screaming along to the pep rally. After standing in front of the second-year center and feeling absolutely emasculated despite being a year older and standing at 5-foot-11 with a non-skinny frame, I felt as if I was one of the kids.


Alex Toledo: I’ve seen you this summer talk about the parts of the game you’ve been working on: ball handling and making quick decisions. I know somebody you emulate is Kevin Garnett because of his passion and drive. What else do you see in his game that you think you can mirror next season?

Bam Adebayo: His mid-range game, definitely. Just watching him make quick moves, make things simple, get easy baskets, being able to tell his teammates the plays and then actually running it and scoring. Just him being that intelligent player, I’m trying to mold my game like that.

Toledo: So you like the idea of being an anchor on both sides of the ball?

Adebayo: Oh yeah, definitely.

Toledo: I know you’re interested in the ball-handling aspect. I know that you’re a good ball-handler, really good in transition, especially for a big. Is that something you’ve been working on a lot, trying to get more reps in?

Adebayo: Yeah, because you know we try to make our team versatile, so just being able to bust out, get in spaces and make plays, I feel like that just helps us as a team.

Toledo: Earlier last year you said that even though you’re out here in Miami, most of what you do just involves hanging out with your mom or watching TV. Mostly chilling. Now that you’re 21 — and look, I’m only 22, so I’m new to this too — has that stayed the same?

Adebayo: Yeah, it’s just, everything’s legal now, so whenever my teammates do want to go out, I’ll go out every once in a while with them. So you know, just having fun. But other than that, I’m just in the house chillin’!

Toledo: Something I don’t think most people know about you: You were on the high school poetry club? Are you still into poetry? I think that’s really interesting.

Adebayo: I feel like I got away from it a little bit. But in high school, I was really on it. I was in a class with me and like a bunch of girls, so I fit right in. I fit in well. But nah, it was fun. I really need to get back into it, though.

Toledo: What about poetry did you like? Was it writing?

Adebayo: Mostly writing. Just you know, dumping my head, getting things off my mind.

Toledo: Is Kobe Bryant still your all-time favorite player?

Adebayo: Yes.

Toledo: Alright. How do you feel then about all the debates everybody’s having? You already know where I’m going with this. Is that something NBA players even care about or talk about? All-time debates: picking from Kobe, LeBron James or Michael Jordan — that kind of thing?

Adebayo: Man, that’s a hard subject. It’s touchy because, if you’re a Kobe fan, you’re obviously going to put him in the conversation. I feel like he’s up there, he’s definitely top three out of them three.

Toledo: So you’ve got him over MJ and LeBron?

Adebayo: I’m just saying he’s in that mix, because it could go either way.

Toledo: So you’ve got him over D-Wade?

Adebayo: Uh—

Toledo: Nah, I’m just messing with you.

Adebayo: I feel like they were all in different eras, and they were all the best players of their eras.

Toledo: I spoke with Udonis Haslem last week. I asked him about his music rotation, and he told me he mainly listens to local guys like Rick Ross and Trick Daddy. All those guys. He told me the only new school he listens to is Kodak Black. Are you the same way or do you rock with the new school? Are you still bumping Katy Perry?

Adebayo: Ah, it depends on how I feel. One day I’ll bump old school, one day I bump new school. I bump Katy Perry every once in a while.

Toledo: What other artists are you into?

Adebayo: A little bit of everybody, honestly. If you’ve got good music, then I’ll play it. I’m a Logic fan.

Toledo: Do you still listen to Whitney Houston pregame?

Adebayo: I kinda got out of it, but she’s still on the playlist.

Toledo: Something else Haslem said was that he’s not into the whole video game stuff. He was telling me about all the Fortnite notifications he was getting on his phone every time his kids made in-game purchases. Which one of you guys is the best Fortnite/NBA 2K player?

Adebayo: It’s me!

Toledo: I think Josh Richardson might say something different.

Adebayo: No. No, don’t let J-Rich say all that. It’s me.


Since 1999, the Miami Heat has contributed $4.8 million to benefit the Heat Academy Program, an after-school program which helps provide economically disadvantaged students who are most at risk of academic failure or juvenile delinquency with the academic enrichment and tutoring service needed to excel in reading, writing, math, and science.

The Heat Academy facilitates three local inner-city schools: Paul Laurence Dunbar K-8 Center (Overtown), Jesse J. McCrary, Jr. Elementary (Little Haiti) and Riverside Elementary (Little Havana).

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