Lakers Legend Says Emerging Heat Star ‘Flying Under the Radar’

Magic Johnson Lakers ESPN

Getty Magic Johnson reacts after being introduced at halftime during the NBA All-Star game.

There are a handful of former NBA stars that stop a room with their words, with current players clinging to their every sentence. Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of those rare living legends.

So when Johnson took to Twitter to heap drool-worthy praise on Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, people took note. Adebayo ranks sixth in All-Star voting for Eastern Conference frontcourt players with 578,133 votes after the second returns were tallied. He is averaging 19.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per game.

While the controversial decision to proceed with an in-person All-Star Game has angered guys like LeBron James, it is an honor that Adebayo would love to add to his resume for a second straight year. He has put the Heat on his back this year as Miami has gone long stretches without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, Avery Bradley.

“We got grit, we never give up,” Adebayo said after a recent Heat win. “The one thing about the guys in our locker room is we always try to give us a chance to win, so that’s throughout the whole game, no matter if we’re down 15 or up or down 13. We’re trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how the game is going.”

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More Kudos for Bam, Praise From Jimmy Butler

Johnson’s former coach in Los Angeles, Pat Riley, now serves as team president for the Miami Heat. Riley knows a thing or two about spotting future greatness, so he wasted no time in locking Adebayo up to a rookie max deal worth $195 million. Some scoffed at the price tag. Not Riley.

“He’s the Zo [Mourning]. He’s the UD [Udonis Haslem]. He’s the Dwyane [Wade],” Riley told ESPN in 2020. “They were standard-bearers. Bam is that person. He is the real deal.”

It’s an attitude shared by Adebayo’s teammates on the court. Jimmy Butler is the best player in a Heat jersey right now and he went out of his way to credit the 6-foot-9 stud for being “one of the top players” in the NBA.

“Bam don’t need no more confidence, Bam knows he’s one of the top players in this league,” Butler told Sky Sports. “He’s only going to continue to get better because he works and he cares and he studies the game. I always tell y’all and I mean it, he’s the heart and soul behind us, he’s what makes us go.”


Cleaning Up Those Costly Turnovers

Adebayo fell two assists short of a triple-double on Thursday night after finishing with 10 points and 13 rebounds in Miami’s 101-94 win. The All-Star center has been dominant at times but he’s also been drawing the ire of Heat fans for his costly turnovers. Adebayo coughed the ball up eight times against the Houston Rockets, two nights after limiting his turnovers to three. It’s been an ongoing battle all year.

“The biggest thing for us is turnovers,” Adebayo said. “If you turn the ball over, you can’t get good offense.”

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