Bam Adebayo teaches Miami Heat's high standards to teens in Johannesburg

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Nigerian-American Bam Adebayo is at the Basketball Without Borders camp in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is using the chance to teach talented teens about the high standards set at the NBA's Miami Heat.

The power forward/center, whose father's side of his family is Nigerian, is teaching 80 of the most talented high school basketball players from all across Africa (40 boys and girls apiece) skills and tactics, as well as life lessons.

When asked in an interview with ESPN what stands out about Miami's culture, and whether aspects can be taught to campers at BWB, Adebayo said: "I can answer that question in one word: standard. Both your questions [can be answered with] 'standard'.

"Miami Heat have a standard; we uphold that standard. We look forward to being held accountable to that standard. That means winning games and being able to raise that trophy at the end of the season.

"Coming here, it's the same thing - it's just standard. We (Adebayo's team in the BWB Africa Games). We want to win every game; we're going to play it all and we're going to leave it all on the court."

Adebayo is one of four active NBA players coaching at BWB Africa this year, with the others being Jonathan Kuminga (Golden State Warriors), Jalen Suggs (Orlando Magic) and Darius Garland (Cleveland Cavaliers). Tacko Fall, who recently starred for the Milwaukee Bucks at the NBA Summer League, is also present.

Adebayo also signed shirts for fans at the NBA Africa Store in Johannesburg on the weekend, and was amazed by the outpouring of love he received from basketball lovers who queued for two hours in order to share brief moments with their hero.

When asked if he knew before that he was so loved in Africa, Adebayo said: "I did, but I didn't. It's just the fact that I appreciate it. I love the love; I appreciate the support from everyone who follows me. For me, it's a thrill to realise that I have this many fans."

Adebayo will be hoping to make them proud by securing an NBA championship ring that has so far proved elusive, after Finals defeats to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020 and the Denver Nuggets in 2023 during his six years with the Heat.

"I feel like we just came up short because we had [among the most] injuries in the 2022-23 season. [Through] all those ups and downs throughout the season... I feel like fatigue had a toll," he said of the 4-1 loss to the Nuggets.

Adebayo has been on a rollercoaster journey with his African identity. He said in an interview with Andscape that he had initially shied away from acknowledging his roots, due to his now late father's absence in his life.

Age and maturity afforded Adebayo a different perspective as he began to embrace his Nigerian heritage, but a previously planned visit to BWB Africa was derailed by COVID-19.

Now that he has finally been able to travel to Africa and give back through basketball, Adebayo said: "I would say that I've added an extra layer of comfort in my life knowing that I got the opportunity to be around all of the greatest basketball players [in Africa].

"For me, it was really about helping these kids in South Africa. Getting to connect through heritage, tribe or whatever it may be, and getting to help these kids is the biggest thing for me."

NBA coaches at the event in Johannesburg include Darvin Ham (Lakers), Mike Brown (Sacramento Kings), JB Bickerstaff (Cleveland Cavaliers), Dwane Casey (recently with Detroit Pistons) and Dave Joerger (assistant coach, most recently with the Philadelphia 76ers).