Team USA cut Bam Adebayo from the 2019 FIBA World Cup training camp roster just months before he would embark on an All-Star campaign and a run at the NBA Finals. Let’s quickly list off some of the individuals who made the team over him.
Harrison Barnes (SAC)
Joe Harris (BKN)
Mason Plumlee (DEN)
Myles Turner (IND)
Derrick White (SAS)
Do you want to know the other player who was cut along with Adebayo? Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young.
In embarrassing fashion, Team USA finished seventh in last summer’s FIBA World Cup, losing to France and Serbia along the way. Head coach Gregg Popovich had to rely on the likes of Donovan Mitchell, Kemba Walker, and Khris Middleton in order to claim a gold medal; having Adebayo at his disposal surely would have improved his odds.
Over a year later, Adebayo’s rejection from Team USA has another country, Nigeria, looking into bringing him on board for the Tokyo Olympics set for the summer of 2021. Adebayo’s father, John, recently died just weeks before Bam entered the NBA’s Bubble down in Orlando, FL. According to an article posted by Marc Spears of The Undefeated, Adebayo was never particularly close with his father growing up but has learned over the years to embrace the heritage of his father and last name. Now, Nigeria Basketball Federation president Musa Kida is recruiting Adebayo to play for the national team.
“Having Bam in our national team is a possibility that we are considering as a federation ahead of the 2020 Olympics and beyond,” Kida stated in a statement released by the NBBF, according to ESPN.
Not so long ago @MiamiHEAT star Bam Adebayo seemed completely lost to Nigeria ??
— ESPN Africa (@ESPNAfrica) October 8, 2020
Nigeria features a terrific lineup that boasts more than a couple of NBA players; rising youngster Josh Okogie (MIN), Chimezie Metu (SAS), Al Farouq Aminu (ORL), Jahlil Okafor (NOP), and fellow Heat player Gabe Vincent will all represent Nigeria in the upcoming Olympic games with Brooklyn Nets star Spencer Dinwiddie expected to join. Coaching the squad will e Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown, who has spent over two decades as a coach in the league. Compared to the 2019 Team USA squad, a Nigerian roster that includes Adebayo would create some noise in an international setting.
A lot of Nigeria’s optimism appears to be based on Adebayo’s feelings towards being cut from Team USA last summer. Back in May, he tweeted about how he still hadn’t forgotten about the slight. It is expected that the superstars who sat out of the World Cup (LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant, etc.) will be suiting up for the Olympics, opening up the possibility that Adebayo could once again get snubbed from the roster.
“I feel like I should have been on that team,” Adebayo told Spears about Team USA. “I feel like I could have helped the team in numerous arrays. But, everybody has their opinion, and they went with what they wanted.”
Earlier in the season, during his trip to Chicago for All-Star Weekend, Adebayo told ESPN that he would entertain the idea of playing for Nigeria: “My dad is Nigerian so if they asked me, I would consider it,” Adebayo said.
Adebayo stated that he had planned on making his first-ever trip to Nigeria this past summer before COVID-19 postponed that journey. The status of the Tokyo Olympics is also at the mercy of the coronavirus, but the idea of playing for Nigeria has clearly crossed his thoughts more than once.
“I’m still thinking on it,” Adebayo said to Spears. “It’s still in the back of my mind. When we played in the regular season a lot of dudes see me, and give me a little elbow, like, ‘Man, Nigerian team looking kind of nice.’ ”