Bam Adebayo returns to NC as a pro

Published 3:36 pm Friday, December 15, 2017

CHARLOTTE — Bam Adebayo said he missed the North Carolina air. It’s one of the first things he took after deplaning in Charlotte when the Miami Heat arrived Thursday night for its Friday-night clash with the Hornets.

A trip to Cookout followed shortly after.

“I had to go to Cookout,” he said. “That’s probably the worst I’ve ate in months. One time isn’t going to hurt me, so I had to go try that. It’s just that North Carolina air, man.”

Adebayo, a Northside product, is nearly 300 miles from where he grew up playing basketball, but still felt back at home as he prepared for his first professional game in his home state.

“I’m just glad to be home. My family getting to watch me play is just a blessing,” he said.

WATCH: Northside product Bam Adebayo speaks ahead of game at Charlotte

Life is a lot different than the last time he was playing basketball in North Carolina. After three years with the Panthers, Adebayo wrapped up his prep career at High Point Christian Academy.

It was simpler just a few years ago. One of the biggest trips he would have to make for basketball was a bus ride to Fayetteville for the regional championship.

One of the biggest adjustments Adebayo said he’s had to make is all the traveling that comes with the territory. Miami’s game at Charlotte was the frontend of a back-to-back that saw Adebayo and the Heat, almost immediately after Friday’s game, hop on a plane and back to Miami for a Saturday-night game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“That’s a different thing,” said the 6-foot-10 center. “When you look at the stat sheet, a dude plays 37 minutes and got a bruised knee, then he’s got to go out there and play 37 minutes again. If you’re traveling — say from Utah to, I don’t know, New York — that’s a long flight.

“On top of that, you get in at 2:30 in the morning. That’s rough.”

Everything else is coming along smoothly thanks to hard work from Adebayo. He said the team chemistry is coming along nicely, laughing as caught an errant shot and flagged down a teammate for a pass during Friday morning’s shootaround.

“That’s chemistry,” he joked. “I couldn’t ask for a better team.”

Adebayo was Miami’s first-round pick in the most recent NBA Draft. The Heat selected him 14th overall. He only played six minutes throughout the first three games of the season.

He had a breakout game by the end of October. Even though his efforts couldn’t snap an early-season losing streak, Adebayo played 31 minutes in an Oct. 30 loss to Minnesota. He notched his first career double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds).

Adebayo went on to receive limited minutes until veteran center Hassan Whiteside injured his knee. He’s been starting at center since. The Heat have gone 3-5 since.

For more coverage on Adebayo’s return to North Carolina, visit