Not one, not two, but three players from the Miami Heat have received the coveted invite to join the 2021 Men’s Olympic Basketball Team this summer in Tokyo, Japan, according to multiple reports on January 23.
The three Heat stars joining the pool of the 60 most elite NBA players being considered for the final Olympics roster are Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Duncan Robinson. While it’s an honor to be included in this group of players, the timing of the 2021 Summer Olympics overlaps with the NBA playoffs, which may heavily affect which athletes ultimately accept a roster spot.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted, “Sources: USA Basketball sent out approximately 60 invitations to players expressing interest in being part of 2021 Olympic team player pool, including all the league’s big names. Team USA could be without players advancing to NBA Finals, based on timing of July Olympics in Tokyo.”
“Selection process at center will be interesting for this team, a problem-area for Team USA in 2019 World Cup,” Wojnarowski continued. “Miami’s Bam Adebayo and Houston’s Christian Wood – one of the league’s success stories in 2020-2021 – are among invitees to fill those roles, sources said.”
All 3 Heat Players Would Likely Turn Down the Opportunity to Play in Japan if Miami Makes it to the Championship
Before the 2020-2021 NBA Season even started, Butler, 31, made it clear he was “not content.” In fact, he will not be content until one thing happens — winning an NBA Championship. If by July, Butler, Adebayo, or Robinson have led the Heat to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals, it’s not likely any of them will drop out to compete in Japan.
“I haven’t won anything worth saying I’ve won,” Butler revealed to the media on December 15. “I think I have a long way to go. My team has a long way to go. So whenever I win it, then you can ask me that question next year.”
Butler, who’s entering his 10th season in the NBA, has just one goal for himself and his Heat teammates: “To win. That’s it, to win.” But he’s not planning to do it alone. While the 6’7 forward is confident of his talent, Butler is also confident that his teammates can step it up to make it happen. He said:
I know that I’m capable of it. I know with the guys that they put around me that I’m capable of it. Now I’ve just got to go out and do my part, make sure that I get better. Make sure that I’m making everybody around me better, and win. That’s it. I know that I can make that happen. I know with the group of guys that we have, that we can make this happen. So, that’s it. That’s what I expect of myself, everybody else, the coaches, the organization, is to win.
It’s hard to imagine any members of the Heat, who pride themselves on always thinking of what’s best for the team over individual success, dropping out last minute to play in the Olympics over helping bring another championship to South Beach.
Butler Has a Strong Message to Analysts With Low Expectations for the Heat This Season
With most of the Heat’s roster intact from their run against the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Finals, Butler continues to have faith they can return to the Championship once more. As for analysts’ low expectations for the Miami franchise to pull off back-to-back appearances, Butler “doesn’t give a damn.”
“We’ve got guys that can play,” Butler said. “We’ve got guys that can guard, that can pass, obviously can put the ball in the bucket. I don’t think we should sneak up on anybody.”
Despite the Heat becoming the first team seeded fifth or lower to make it to the Finals since 1999, “We’re going to compete. We ain’t sneaking up on anybody. Everybody is gonna know when they go up against the Heat what they’re going up against.”
While the Heat has had a rollercoaster start to the season, there’s plenty of time for Miami to reverse course. As of January 23, they are 6-8 and sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference Division.