Bam Adebayo puts aside his friendship with Jayson Tatum during the Celtics-Heat series


“He wears a green jersey, my jersey is red.”

Jayson Tatum and Bam Adebayo have been friends for over a decade. For Adebayo, that friendship is on hiatus until the end of the Eastern Conference Finals. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Celtics star Jayson Tatum and Heat star Bam Adebayo have been friends since long before they both made their NBA debuts in 2017.

The two friends have also become on-court rivals in recent years with the Celtics and Heat meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the past four seasons. This rivalry replaces friendship for Adebayo, at least while the two teams fight for a trip to the NBA Finals.

Ahead of Sunday’s third game, Adebayo was asked if he spoke with Tatum between games.

“[Expletive] No. I mean, uh… no,” Adebayo told reporters. “I don’t even talk to him on the pitch. He wears a green jersey, my jersey is red.

Adebayo wasn’t shy about sharing his thoughts on how he feels about the Celtics. In February, Adebayo explained to Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks why he didn’t like the Celtics.

“It’s mainly because of JT. I’ve known JT since we were 12,” Adebayo said. “Obviously, when we face off, it’s a dogfight. I wanna be like, dog, I got more wins than you. That’s how I am. This is a personal fight. At the end of our careers, say, “Well, when we faced you so many times, when we faced each other, Bam had more wins.”

Adebayo also said that while he didn’t text Tatum before games, it was “all the love” between the two after the game was over.

“He’s still one of my great friends in the league,” Adebayo told Rooks.

But Adebayo also acknowledged that the rivalry between the Celtics and Heat goes beyond himself and Tatum.

“He has so much history with him,” Adebayo said. “I feel like it started with the ‘Big 3′. You saw those battles. You saw how ugly it is. You saw when Ray [Allen] went from Boston to Miami, and how they – I’m not going to say they turned on him – but that was how it was then. You are with them now; we don’t [expletive] with you. So I feel like he’s still here ’cause we still have [Udonis Haslem]. UD has been there.

This year’s Eastern Conference Finals is the sixth playoff series between the Celtics and the Heat, with all six occurring since 2010. The Heat have won three of those series and currently hold a 2-0 lead over the Celtics in this year’s series.

The 2023 Eastern Conference, however, is a rubber match between Adebayo and Tatum. Adebayo’s Heat team won the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, with Adebayo arguably playing the game of the series in Game 1 when he blocked Tatum’s dunk that would have tied the game with seconds remaining.

Tatum tied the personal playoff best between him and Adebayo last season when the Celtics outlasted the Heat in seven years.


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