Miami – The banners are all aligned next to each other, waving from the ceiling above the court where the Miami Heat play their games. LeBron James has one. So does Dwayne Wade. Also Alonzo Shokh and Tim Hardaway.
He remembers the Olympic gold medals he won as a member of the Heat.
And Bam Adebayo wants one.
Heat Center and his USA basketball teammates — who were cleared to fly or still haven’t been playing in the NBA Finals, anyway — arrived in Japan on Tuesday for the Tokyo Olympics. The Americans are seeking a fourth consecutive gold medal, and if they come home with that dazzling prize, Adebayo’s banner plan will be fulfilled as well.
“That’s my goal,” Adebayo said. “I want Miami to think of me as one of the greats to come through the city. I want to be able to warm up and see my name in the rafters. A lot of people don’t get that opportunity, so My goal is just to make sure that I take advantage of this moment and don’t mess with it.”
Adebayo is one of the two centers on the Olympic roster. New addition JaVale McGee – who replaced injured Kevin Love – is second. The Americans begin their Olympic game on Tuesday against France, an important game considering the French are the team that decimated the US from medal contention at the Basketball World Cup two years ago.
Adebayo will play a key role in America’s rotation.
“He does what he does,” said American coach Greg Popovich. “He’s active. He’s a rebounder. He runs. He knows how to play with teammates. He’s got the ball on the wings, at the elbows, over the top, (dribble hand-offs), splits, in Miami. Very handled on pick-and-rolls. He’s going to be very valuable to us and obviously our best rebounder.
It’s a very different feeling for Adebayo now than in his first USA basketball experience.
He was cut from the World Cup squad in 2019 after a week of workouts in Las Vegas, and Adebayo didn’t return to that city until July 5 – when he flew from Miami to begin Olympic training camp. Walking through the airport that day, he admitted to some disappointment from not making the US roster two years earlier.
“I’m not the type of person who harbors hatred,” Adebayo said. “But it’s definitely a motivating factor.”
Shook and Hardaway won their banners as members of the Heat at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Wade won at the 2008 Beijing Games; James won the 2012 London Games. James also won in 2008 and several other players who have worn the Heat uniform – including Chris Bosch, Shaquille O’Neill, Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Ray Allen, Gary Peyton and Christian Laettner – have Olympic gold in their collection. Too.
But banners are reserved for those who win gold while being a member of the Heat.
“Of course I want one of those,” Adebayo said. “I’m going to the Olympics to represent my country. I’m going to represent my city too.”
These days, that phrase — “my city” — takes on a different meaning.
The collapse of a condo in Surfside, Florida, a waterfront town just a few miles north of downtown Miami, has been hurting Miami for a month or so. The mid-night collapse of that building has been attributed to at least 97 deaths, with a handful of people still unaccounted for.
One of the last things Adebayo did before leaving Miami for USA Basketball’s camp in Las Vegas was to visit the site, pay their respects, thank the first responders, let them know that he would keep them in mind on their Olympic journey. . He was told that the lower seven floors of the complex were essentially pushed underground by the weight of the floors above him, and this made him think about the apartment building where he and his mother lived until recently; Adebayo was on the 48th floor, his mother on the fifth floor.
“Going there, laying wreaths for those who were missing, those who recovered, those who didn’t make it, it hits you all at once that it could have been some of your friends, it could have been anyone.” Was in here,” Adebayo said. “I spoke to the first responders and they were still full of hope. I felt like I was a therapy person. That’s why I say this is my city because those faces answered me. I wasn’t doing anything special. I was just showing up and extending my support to them.”
He talked to someone who was rescued, as well as a number of people who had been digging in the rubble for a long time.
“The least I can do is to go out and try to win a gold medal for my country, win a gold medal for my city,” Adebayo said. “To bring it back to Miami, it will give some people a little light, a little spark that they need right now.”