It’s the Miami Heat vs. the LA Lakers, as the NBA Finals begin on Wednesday….The Heat are in the NBA Finals??? YES!, and you know why???
A big reason the Miami Heat are still around to face the Lakers, and a very big reason the Heat beat the Boston Celtics in the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals, that BIG reason the Heat are still around is none other than Bam Adebayo, and Bam Adebayo played high school basketball for Coach Brandon Clifford, at High Point Christian Academy…Coach Clifford played for Coach Robert Kent, at Page High School, here in Greensboro, N.C.
Bam Adebayo with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists, to lead the Miami Heat over the Boston Celtics on Sunday, 125-113, and the Heat take the series over the Celtics, Four-games-to-Two….Bam did it all for the Heat on Sunday, in that win over Boston…..
Coach Brandon Clifford tells what makes Bam, BAM!!! And I am amazed with Bam, and all that he is doing for the Miami Heat, as they head into the NBA Finals on Wednesday, vs. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers…
Here’s our talk with Coach Brandon Clifford, Bam Adebayo’s high school basketball coach, at High Point Christian Academy….
1)What has changed about Bam Adebayo, since his days at HPCA/High Point Christian Academy?
Coach Brandon Clifford:One of the best things about Bam is he hasn’t changed. He’s still the same humble kid that just wants to play basketball and take care of his mom. Easy to pull for someone like that.
2)How was he when he played for you, how coachable was he, and how well did he take criticism? You are a Big Man, and you were coaching him as a big man, and how did it all come together?
Coach Clifford:Bam was easy to coach because he wanted to get better and he wanted to learn. Many players get to a certain level as a high school player to where they think “oh, I’m the best guy in the city/area/state/country so I don’t have to work to improve.” Bam was never like that because his plans were to play far beyond HS and college. He had a professional maturity about him every time he was on the court. Was he goofy sometimes and constantly trying to make people laugh? All the time! But inside the lines it was business. The coolest part about that for me was when I worked for the Dallas Mavericks a year after coaching Bam, Dirk Nowitzki was the same way. Always joking, always keeping things light, but when it was time to compete it is time to compete. It shows you don’t have to be a robot to be a great player and fierce competitor.
3)What is the strongest part of Bam’s game, as you watch him now with the Miami Heat?
Coach Clifford:The strongest part of Bam’s game is that he is a unicorn. He can truly defend all 5 positions. He can also initiate the offense as a center. He’s truly created his own position. It all goes back to who he is as a person. He’s unselfish and he wants to win. That reflects in his play by how he’s willing to do whatever his team needs him to. It was the same at Kentucky(in college). He’s always had the floor skills he is showing now even if they weren’t nearly as refined. At Kentucky though he played with ball dominant guards and they wanted him to be more of a rim presence/post up guy. You could tell he wasn’t always comfortable doing that because he prefers to face the basket with space, but he did it because that’s what he was asked to do. He’s a guy that is coachable and will do whatever is asked of him.
4)Do you still talk with him at all, and what do you see from him as an individual, off of the court?
Coach Clifford:We still text back and forth fairly routinely, but my role has gone from being his coach to more of being a fan and supporter. He’s in good hands, and I’m excited to watch him continue to raise his level. The few times I’ve seen him play since HS while at UK and in the NBA has been a surreal experience. He really made it.
It’s awesome to see how he’s impacting his community in Miami, and anybody that knows Bam wouldn’t be surprised that he is doing so.
5)How does a kid from HPCA/High Point Christian Academy explode like he’s done, and how far do you see him going? NBA Champion? Is Bam the key to Miami’s current success???
Coach Clifford:Well, I’d like to think our culture at HPCA was a HS version of the Heat culture that he’s in now that everyone is talking about. We conditioned harder than anyone, we lived in the weightroom, our guys were prepared for the next level. We had a culture of work. I think that’s one of reasons he came to HPCA in the first place, just like his teammates and guys that came before. He told me when he was at Kentucky that his time at HPCA prepared him for that next step, and I’ve always been proud of that because I knew he was going to be in the NBA a year after leaving us.
I said when Bam was named to the McDonald’s All-American Game when we were at the Basketball Hall of Fame that he would have a residence there one day and I still believe that. He has been the anchor of a team as a 23 year-old and led them to the NBA Finals. He’s an All-Star and has a chance to be a champion in his 3rd year. I wish I could say I was surprised, but this was always the plan. If you’ve been around him you know that he is destined to be great.
Our thanks today to Coach Brandon Clifford…Coach Clifford has been at Page High School as a player and as an assistant coach, he has been at the University of Kentucky as a grad-assistant coach, he has been the head men’s basketball coach at High Point Christian Academy, he has been an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, he has been a head coach in high school basketball in Tennessee and in South Carolina at Cross Schools, in Bluffton, South Carolina…Coach Clifford’s current stop is at the Cross Schools, in Bluffton, South Carolina, where he is the head men’s basketball coach, and Athletic Director….
Bam Adebayo is with the Miami Heat, and Bam’s Heat will begin a Best-of-Seven Series, for the NBA Title on Wednesday night, in Orlando, Florida….
(We wish him the best, because he is one of the best in the NBA today.)