MIAMI — Bam Adebayo has to wait until Thursday to find out if he will be named to his first All-Star Game.
Jimmy Butler, however, doesn’t need to.
“He will be,” Butler said Monday after the Miami Heat’s 113-92 win over the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Arena when asked if his teammate will be an All-Star this season. “No doubt.”
Adebayo certainly did his best to give the league’s coaches, who have to submit their ballots Tuesday, something to think about while they make their selections. Against the Magic, he finished with 20 points on 10-for-16 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and one turnover.
“I didn’t know that, actually,” Adebayo said when asked if he was trying to put on a show for the coaches before they submit their selections.
“I felt like I had that ‘Mamba Mentality’ tonight,” he added with a smile.
Adebayo was referring to the ongoing tributes around the NBA to the deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, along with seven others, in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, California. The Heat and Magic, who played the LA Clippers on Sunday, joined many other teams in alternating 24- and eight-second violations to start the game in honor of Bryant’s two jersey numbers during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
On Monday, in a battle of the NBA’s two Florida teams, the Heat led nearly the entire game and used a 20-4 run to open the third quarter to put it away. That all happened thanks in large part to Adebayo, who registered his third triple-double of the season.
Adebayo, who in his third season has nearly doubled his previous scoring output with 16 points per game, said he was playing in part to honor Bryant’s legacy.
“The game wasn’t about the All-Star Game,” he said. “It was about honoring Kobe. I feel like every player wanted to do that their next game after his death. He’s been my idol since I was younger. I looked up to him, and I never got to meet him, but he was here by spirit.”
Now Adebayo will have to wait to see how the coaches around the league view his season.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra agrees with Butler but said he will let Adebayo’s play, combined with the Heat’s being tied with the Toronto Raptors for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, do the talking, rather than lobbying his peers to vote for his player.
“In some ways, it can be an unpredictable process,” Spoelstra said. “I hope [he makes it]. Right or wrong, I try to let his game and our winning and potentially what I say after the games and before speak for itself. I don’t contact coaches 1-on-1. Maybe that’s wrong. I just don’t feel comfortable doing that.
“I don’t like receiving those random texts out of nowhere when I haven’t spoken to anybody all season long, and you get a random text like that. Your play should speak louder than anything else, and I just feel in my core, in my heart, that Bam’s play has spoken loud enough to be an All-Star, and our winning should be proof of that.”