There are certain moments in Miami Heat history that have become iconic. Ray Allen hitting a game-tying three at the buzzer, the 2009-10 Dwayne Wade season, LeBron’s “decision,” and most recently, Bam Adebayo’s block on Jayson Tatum.
The Boston Celtics had clawed their way into the conference finals following a hellacious seven-game series against the Toronto Raptors in the Disney World bubble. Jayson Tatum was still a rising star in the league, trying to figure out how he could take his game to the next level.
Adebayo was in a similar boat, having begun to earn rave reviews for his unique style of play and elite-level defense. The two stars were on a collision course, as they tried to will their teams into the NBA finals. And then, the block happened.
A block of that magnitude reverberates throughout the NBA, and echos through the walls of time. Highlights become ubiquitous on social media, and future players try to emulate the moment for their own careers. Such was the ferocity in which Adebayo swatted away Tatum’s last-moment attempt.
Of course, the Heat went on to win the series 4-2, but it was the block that stuck fresh in everybody’s memory.
Adebayo Playing Mind Games
Adebayo, 24, has never been short of confidence, you can see it in the way he plays, and how he carries himself in post-game press conferences. In fact, the six-foot-nine center loves to compete and embraces the mental side of things too.
Perhaps that’s why Adebayo has embarked on a mission to get inside friend Jayson Tatum’s head, or at least, attempt to get inside his head. Speaking on an episode of JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast, Adebayo shared an amusing fact about his relationship with Boston’s star wing.
“Obviously, me and JT have known each other since we were in the sandbox. I’m petty, so the first thing in my mind was ‘oh, I’m gonna talk my s*** different.’ Every year I send him the anniversary picture like ‘Dawg, happy anniversary man, I appreciate you.’ But, it was one of those things where it was an out-of-body experience,” Adebayo said during the podcast.
Adebayo Has Case For Defensive Player of the Year
Blocks like the one in the bubble are commonplace for Adebayo, granted, they don’t usually carry the same importance, but those types of swats do occur with a frequency. However, the fifth-year big man is the perfect center for Erik Spoelstra’s Heat team, thanks to his versatility, and competitive nature.
Adebayo is currently ranked third amongst bookies for a possible Defensive Player of the Year award, behind Jaren Jackson Jr, and Marcus Smart. Yet, Adebayo was previously been mentioned as the top candidate earlier in the season, and the Newark native has also fought his corner.
“I mean, I started playing basketball and you know, when I got here it was all defense. So, for me, it would be a great award for me to win, my teammates are behind me, my organization is behind me, so might as well go win it,” Adebayo said following the Heat’s final home game of the season.
Adebayo has previously been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team on two occasions (2020, 2021) and will be hoping to go one better this year by making the First Team and earning individual recognition in the form of a Defensive Player of the Year title.