Big men steal show at skills challenge

By Arman Tondravi
Medill Reports

Jimmy Butler may be in a little bit of debt following Bam Adebayo’s three point shooting at the NBA’s skills challenge.

“That’s $1,500, so I’ll be expecting my check in the mail,” Adebayo said. The money Adebayo is referring to stems from a bet he and his Miami Heat teammate Butler placed earlier this season, with Butler fining Adebayo $500 for every game Adebayo doesn’t attempt a three point shot.

Adebayo was the first to sink the concluding three-pointer in each of his three rounds during the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday night, and afterward he let the public know about the ever-evolving role of the modern big man.  

“It just shows where this league is going,” said Adebayo. “It’s scary because, when you got guys that are 6’10”, classified as centers or power forwards, I don’t believe it’s any of that anymore.”

Adebayo could not help but smile from ear to ear as he accepted his trophy, a trophy he intends to dedicate to his mother. Adebayo’s victory marked the third win in the past four years for a big man, following a stretch which encompassed no big men ever winning the award since the event’s inception in 2003. 

Adebayo’s counterpart in the finals, Domantas Sabonis, echoed Adebayo’s sentiments on the state of big men in the modern game.  “It’s just showing how the game is changing and how big men and power forwards are basically bringing up the ball,” Sabonis said. “It’s more of a point guard position.”

Adebayo went on to poke fun at Miami Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra about an advanced role in the Heat offense moving forward. “I’m just saying, I had to end this with threes, so I can take top-of-the-key threes maybe,” said a joking Adebayo. 

Adebayo finalized his conference by pointing to the ever-changing landscape of the NBA, while also paying homage to one of the games current greats. 

“I mean, K.D. is 7 foot,” he said, referencing Kevin Durant. “So is K.D. a center?” 

Photo at top: Bam Adebayo addresses media following Skills Contest victory. (Arman Tondravi/MEDILL)