Heat’s Bam Adebayo on looming Victor Oladipo return, ‘That’s going to be a big day for all of us’

South Florida Sun Sentinel
South Florida Sun Sentinel
Heat center Bam Adebayo (right) has been encouraged by the progress of Victor Oladipo Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS

Hints tend to be the exception with the Miami Heat, the scant few minutes when the tail end of practice is open to the media, moments when players work on the court pregame at FTX Arena.

That mostly has left conjecture regarding a potential return by Victor Oladipo as just that, speculation, assumptions, as he works back from May quadriceps surgery.

And, as always, there is the redundancy of, “no new update,” from coach Erik Spoelstra.

But as the Heat moved toward Wednesday night’s game against the visiting New York Knicks, center Bam Adebayo teased about the growing optimism that there soon could be more from the versatile guard, after Oladipo was limited to just four appearances last season following his March acquisition from the Houston Rockets.

“He’s itching to get back,” Adebayo said. “He’s one of those guys, he’s really determined, and to be as best as he possibly can for us, and actually impact winning.

“I feel like he’s going to be a great addition to this team when he gets back. And we’ll see what happens.”

Oladipo has been working with the team for months, including traveling on some trips.

But Adebayo indicated there has been a tangible difference recently.

“He’s starting to be at practice a little more,” Adebayo said. “You’re starting to hear his voice. He’s starting to get acclimated with the plays and running in transition. So when he’s able to suit up, that’s going to be a big day for all of us.”

Oladipo was one of several players to record videos for the National Basketball Players Association to memorialize Wednesday’s two-year anniversary of the passing of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash.

“I think the biggest moment for me is my first time talking to him on the phone,” Oladipo said. “And I’ll never forget it. I was in Indy and just calling him, just picking his brain about certain movements, certain reads, mentality.

“He was just so willing to teach, you know what I mean? He was so willing to give back. And he didn’t have to. But that’s just Kobe. That was his personality. He wanted others after him to have the same opportunities that he has. That just shows what kind of human being he was. Again, he didn’t have to do what he did, but he did it because he wanted to. And that’s why his legacy will live on forever.”

COVID clearance

With Tyler Herro’s formally cleared Wednesday, it left the Heat, for the rare time in more than a month, without a player in NBA health-and-safety protocols. Because of that, the status of forward Chris Silva was changed to ineligible, as he completes his third emergency 10-day contract.

“It’s a common experience now in the locker room,” guard Duncan Robinson said. “Pretty much everyone has gone through it. Maybe there’s one or two who’s somehow avoided it.”

The only Heat players yet to be listed in NBA protocols this season are Adebayo, Oladipo, Silva, Jimmy Butler, Dewayne Dedmon, KZ Okpala and Omer Yurtseven.

“Yeah, everyone has gone through,” Robinson said. “It’s just the nature of this year. We’ve all got our own stories dealing with it, unfortunately.”

With Herro back, it again has made the path to the Heat locker room a runway.

“Actually, I missed the outfits,” Adebayo said. “I will say that. That’s one thing I notice when he’s back on the court.”

What rivalry?

With the playoff heyday of Heat-Knicks nearly two decades in the teams’ rearview mirrors, the approach Wednesday hardly was of a rivalry game.

“I’ve been told there’s a lot of history between the two, a little bit of history before my time,” guard Gabe Vincent, 25, said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround.

Said guard Max Strus, 25, “I feel like the Heat have rivalries with everybody.”

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