After losing out on Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, it is easy to be critical of the Miami Heat organization right now. But one must not forget the reputation Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and the entire franchise have built over these past years. Maintaining a strong culture is an arduous task that every other NBA team desperately tries to attain.

Miami, though, is one of the few to achieve it. Doing so requires the players to especially buy into and embody the “Heat Way.” Now that Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem are both officially retired, someone else has to carry that mantle. Bam Adebayo is embracing the responsibility.

“I mean, you can’t run from it,” he told the Miami Herald's Anthony Chiang. “The thing about it is it’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be something that obviously you take for granted. But do I feel like I’m ready? Yes. At this point, I’ve done a lot of stuff in my career in my six years that a lot of dudes haven’t done in their whole career.”

Bam Adebayo was destined to lead this team

Adebayo, who was drafted by the Heat in 2017, is unquestionably one of the franchise's pillars. He continues to elevate his game, averaging 20.4 points and 9.2 rebounds last season and nearly a double-double in the 2023 NBA playoffs. Simply out, Miami would not have won the Eastern Conference in two of the last three years without this emerging leader.

The two-time All-Star credits his tutelage from the aforementioned South Beach royalty for being able to assume that role.

“So being able to one, obviously, have D-Wade in my ear the first year and a half of my career and then having UD all the way through up to this point, it’s prepared me for that role,” Bam Adebayo said. “It’s prepared me for the standard, it’s prepared me for understanding what this looks like and how it’s supposed to be.”

He doesn't carry this responsibility alone. Jimmy Butler fully exemplifies the Heat culture and has earned himself a special place in franchise history after just four years with the team. But being a hand-picked building block comes with an extra sense of pride. Adebayo wears it well.