MIAMI (AP) — Kevin Love got to know Bam Adebayo through time together with USA Basketball. He already is fond of Adebayo’s mother, Marilyn Blount. And Love and Adebayo already have exchanged some items, such as jerseys after a game and profane but hilarious comments on Instagram.
Seems like a perfect match.
That’s what the Miami Heat are hoping for, anyway. Love — one of two big men Miami signed during the All-Star break, along with free agent center Cody Zeller — detailed his rationale for picking the Heat over Philadelphia and his excitement to play along Adebayo on Wednesday, a day before his first official practice with his new team.
“I love the way that they operate here,” said Love, who has been working out in Miami since he signed on Monday. “You can tell that it’s a top-tier, high-class, high-character organization and that all starts at the top. So for me, at the end of the day, it was a pretty easy decision.”
And Adebayo, it seems, was part of that decision-making. The PG-rated version of their Instagram conversation that went viral Tuesday could be described as Adebayo posting a comment telling Love to make some shots, and Love telling Adebayo to create some space for him.
The jousting will continue, only because they’re thrilled to have the other as a teammate. Adebayo spoke at length during All-Star weekend about how he wanted Love to land in Miami once his buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers was complete.
“He’s one of those guys, I just love his game,” Love said in a video conference with reporters. “I love what he is about. I love how he impacts winning and, you know, for him to jaw like that, it just means we’re off to a good start.”
For Zeller, coming to Miami isn’t about how the season starts — but how it finishes.
The 10-year veteran has been to the playoffs only twice in his career, both times against the Heat. He played in 11 games, with his Charlotte teams going 3-8 in those contests, Miami winning the first-round series against Zeller’s club each time.
“I’ve hated playing the Heat throughout my whole career, because you always know it’s going to be a tough game, you always know it’s going to be hard-playing guys, it’s going to be a physical game, set the tone early,” Zeller said. “That’s how it’s been my whole career for 10 years in the NBA, so it’s kind of fun for me to be on the other side of it. Hopefully teams know it’s going to be a long night playing against us.”
It’s a reunion for Zeller as well with his college teammate at Indiana, Heat guard Victor Oladipo.
“It’s pretty special,” Zeller said. “Vic and I are really close. … We didn’t imagine that the stars would align and we’d end up here in Miami.”
The deals got done Monday, with Miami taking advantage of its two open roster spots to add not just some size — but big men who can pass, shoot and rebound as well. The Heat start their post-All-Star schedule Friday in Milwaukee, holding down seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Clearly, the hope is to move up.
Love could have moved up in the standings already if so inclined.
After falling out of Cleveland’s rotation 12 games ago, Love decided to seek a buyout from a team that’s No. 4 in the East right now, and he said he had serious talks with the No. 3 team in the East, Philadelphia. But he chose Miami, convinced it was the best fit and the best opportunity.
Plus, it had been on his mind for about 15 years. Love was the No. 5 pick in the 2008 NBA draft and went three spots after Miami took Michael Beasley with that year’s No. 2 pick. Love thought at the time there was a chance he’d be in Miami — and now, it’s a reality.
“I always looked at Miami as a place that’d be a great landing spot for me,” Love said.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports