Bam Adebayo thought there was a chance he might be busy playing basketball with some of the game’s best young players during All-Star weekend next month in Los Angeles. It’s safe to say he and his Miami Heat teammates are a little surprised and disappointed he won’t be.
Miami’s first round pick, who has played an important role off the bench at center and helped the Heat earn the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference, was not among the 20 first- or second-year players invited to play in the Rising Stars Challenge when the rosters were unveiled Wednesday night.
“I must have not done enough,” said Adebayo, who ranks 19th in scoring (6.9 per game), seventh in rebounding (4.9 per game), 20th in assists (1.9 per game) and 18th in minutes (19.9 per game) among rookies. “But hey, I’ll get time to spend with my family and just move on from it. There’s always next year.
“It’s no big deal. I got the rest of this year to get better and years coming on.”
Truth be told it was kind of a big deal to Adebayo, teammate Josh Richardson said.
“Yeah. He wasn’t too happy when he saw it,” Richardson said. “Bam’s not a guy who will get visibly upset. But talking to him about it I could tell he wanted to be in there. I think he’s one of the most important young players in this league. He’s on a playoff team. So I think that should have played a part. I think he’s definitely going to hold that [chip on his shoulder] all year.”
The NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge selects 10 players from the United States and 10 who came from other parts of the world. The only player who could be considered a traditional center selected to the U.S. team was Atlanta’s John Collins, who is 6-10, 235.
Collins, who was taken five picks after Adebayo and 19th overall, is averaging 10.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the 12-29 Hawks.
“We all think he should have been in there,” Richardson said. “It’s a tough selection process, but when we saw the lineups we were confused as to how he didn’t get in there over some people on it. But all those guys on there are great players and there’s a lot of great young players in this league. So, you never know.”
Said point guard Goran Dragic of Adebayo: “Bam has made a huge impact on this team. When Whitey was hurt, he put up huge numbers for us. Even now, he’s a big part of this team and we think that he should be there representing the Miami Heat. He deserves to be there. He can turn this a different way, play with a chip on his shoulder and try to prove to everybody that they made a mistake.”
Assistant coaches are responsible for choosing the Rising Stars roster.
“It wasn’t our assistant coaches,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think Bam should definitely be considered for something. The way he’s going he’s going to be involved in something in the years ahead on that weekend. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”
Credit Dragic for going all out with the Heat’s debut of its new City Edition Vice uniforms Thursday night against the Kings.
The 31-year-old said he’s sporting a mustache to go with the Miami Vice look once made famous by Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas, the two stars of the hit TV series Miami Vice which ran from 1984 to 1990.
“I shaved and I was thinking back home, ‘Man, we’re going to have those jerseys, Miami Vice, why not?’” Dragic said. “It doesn’t look good, but I don’t care.”
The mustache look is something new for Dragic, who has sported a beard before never just the ‘stache.
“My wife, she kind of liked it,” Dragic said. “She was like, ‘You look different.’ ”
Richardson said he’s given Dragic plenty of grief over the new look.
“I appreciate him getting into character,” Richardson said. “I was making fun of him a lot for it [Wednesday]. I was kind of jealous because I can’t grow one. I have some fuzz there, but this is 24 years of growth.”
Dragic, a native of Slovenia, said he had no idea what Miami Vice was until he looked it up in the preseason, when the Heat began filming its promos for the uniform.
“I was teasing Spo, he should come today with a white suit and a pink shirt,” Dragic said. “He would look good. But he didn’t want to go with it. The colors are kind of crazy, but I like it. It’s different.
“I think [they] are the hottest uniforms in NBA history. I love them. They’re great. I can’t wait to put them on tonight and try to win some games. I just like it. It’s awesome colors combined. It looks great.”