Born in Newark, New Jersey, raised in Pinetown, North Carolina, schooled at Duke University, selected by the Miami Heat, Bam Adebayo has seen quite a bit in his young life. Big for his age, Edrice (his given name) was already 6’6” by his thirteenth birthday: a career in professional basketball was a matter of when, not if.
After the Heat drafted him, he told reporters one player in particular was his favorite as a model, per Manny Navarro.
“I’ve always wanted to be like KG,” Adebayo said. “I looked at it like this [at Kentucky], who would you rather see shoot shots from 15 or 17 feet? Me or Malik [Monk]? I was cool with giving up something I was capable of doing for the better of the team.”
So when Ocean Drive Magazine asked him about his role model, he reinterated his preference the player known as “The Big Ticket,” because of his ability to pack the arenas.
Is there a player that you want to model your career after?
It’s always been Kevin Garnett, because of his passion and his drive. He’s one of those guys that never took plays off. He always wanted to be the best player and the most vocal. He always wanted to see his team win.
Earlier this year Brian Hamilton wrote that Adebayo's high school coach Kevin Graves brought in Philadelphia-born Rasheed Wallace (all-time NBA technical foul leader) to teach Bam how to handle taller, more physical players.
“He basically taught him for three months how to play against taller players,” Graves says of Wallace. “In high school, Bam is 6' 10" playing against 6' 4" [players]. You get to Kentucky, everybody is 6' 10". Rasheed taught Bam all the leveraging moves to use against the taller guys.”
Coming from modest, but tough, beginnings and trained by Wallace, Adebayo developed an inner Garnett on the basketball court. This could be bad news for teams in the NBA not based in Miami.
“He’s meaner than I thought,” [Joel] Justus says. “Everybody always talked about how nice he was. He’s mean. He’s a mean rebounder; he’s an angry post finisher. And there’s not one thing wrong with it. But he’s nasty. And then he smiles after he does it. It’s a beautiful thing when he’s mean.”
Or as star freshman guard Malik Monk puts it: “Every team is scared of him, I think.”
So how does Bam feel about moving to Miami, as quoted in Ocean Drive Magazine? Don’t let his answer fool you into him believing a stay in paradise is guaranteed.
There are a lot of places you can end up, but I ended up in Miami, which is just a blessing. It was like moving to paradise.
Lastly the magazine asked him about adapting to life as a professional basketball player. He has no illusions of an easy life in NBA life, since he never backed down from overcoming any roadblocks in his way.
What’s the biggest difference between playing in the NBA versus any other level you’ve played at?
This is a business, first and foremost. You can’t slack. Sometimes in high school you can take plays off and you won’t get taken out. Here there is someone waiting for your position, waiting for that chance. For me, I’m just buying into the process of whatever we need to do and sacrificing whatever I need to for the team to win. I just want to win.
Undoubtedly raw, yet with the burning desire to reach the Kevin Garnett levels of intensity, the Heat just need patience before their draft pick reaches his potential. He'll be nasty, but with a smile.