Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo celebrated his 24th birthday on Sunday, and he used the opportunity to remember one of his idols growing up: Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant.
On Instagram, Adebayo posted photos of him to commemorate his birthday. What caught the attention of fans, however, is his simple caption of the number “24” alongside purple and gold hearts–the team colors of the Lakers in a nod to the Black Mamba who used to wear No. 24 for LA.
Bam Adebayo is a huge Kobe Bryant fan, so his post honoring the Lakers star is not surprising.
After Kobe’s death in January 2020, Adebayo tries to pay tribute to Bryant in any way he can. In fact during the bubble playoffs last season, he wore Kobe sneakers even when they were up against the Lakers.
“Me, growing up, I was a Kobe fan, Kobe fanatic,” Adebayo said, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “And just getting, just being able to just wear his shoes, it’s my favorite shoe to play in. I’ve been playing in them this whole playoff run, so can’t stop now.”
On the one-year anniversary of Kobe’s death, the Heat big man also spoke fondly of the Lakers great and shared how much impact he had on his career.
“He had such an impact on my life,” Adebayo added, per Barry Jackson of Miami Herald. “I wanted to have that Mamba Mentality so bad, just having that look on your face. I feel like I had that moment in the  Eastern Conference Finals in Game 6. I remember laying on the floor thinking this is my Mamba Moment.”
While Kobe is no longer with us, his legacy lives on in the players and people he had inspired like Adebayo. And as the Heat All-Star emphasized, he’ll do his best to have that Mamba Mentality night in and night out.