MIAMI – Bam Adebayo left the field after the gold medal game at the Tokyo Olympics in August, having proudly draped the American flag over his shoulders, and asked a question on his way to the winning locker room.
“Where is my banner? “
He’ll never have to ask that again.
The Heat hang banners to commemorate when team members win Olympic gold medals, and Adebayo’s was unveiled Friday night in a halftime ceremony in Miami’s game against the Charlotte Hornets. It’s the fifth who is now swinging from the rafters, joining those paying tribute to the Olympic successes of Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
“Mission accomplished,” Adebayo said.
Adebayo said he went to the Olympics in a bid to bring gold back to Miami, a city that was in shock this summer after a condo collapsed in Surfside, Fla., A city on the edge of water a few miles north of downtown Miami. The collapse in the middle of the night of this building left 98 people dead.
Adebayo visited the site just before leaving to join USA Basketball for the summer, and said it was on his mind throughout the Olympics.
“It was an incredible accomplishment,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Adebayo being part of the gold experience. “Thinking about where he came from and his journey to get there, to be able to help the US Olympic team win a gold medal, it’s really amazing.”
A pair of Adebayo Heat teammates Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry also won Olympic gold for the United States. They don’t have banners because they weren’t members of the Heat when they won those medals.
The Heat flew an American flag halfway through the brief ceremony. Adebayo – his mother joining him on the court for now – donned his gold medal for the occasion, then smiled and raised his arms to the sky as golden streamers fell from the ceiling and the banner was finally deployed.
Adebayo averaged 6.3 points and a team best record of 5.7 rebounds with 57% shots at the Tokyo Games. He was one of only three players – Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard were the others – to start all six games at the Olympics for the team coached by Gregg Popovich.
“It was a joy in every way,” Popovich said earlier this month of Adebayo in the Olympic team.
Adebayo had six points, six rebounds and four assists in the gold medal game against France, a victory where the Americans avenged a loss to open the Olympics.
“Bam is a student of the game, but also of the history of the Miami Heat,” said Spoelstra. “He saw the banners go up. It means something to him.