Miami Heat Basketball is about so much more than numbers


Miami Heat Basketball isn’t about a record or stat-lines. It’s about a unique culture that oozes from the front office, down to the players.

10-9. The team’s current record.

18.9, 4.3, 4.7. The average number of points, rebounds and assists a game Goran Dragic is currently averaging.

$52 million. The amount Dion Waiters will make over four years.

And yet, none of that really has to do with Miami Heat Basketball. Because Miami Heat Basketball isn’t defined by numbers. It’s about the culture that exists within the organization, top to bottom. One that has always been there, but more recently has taken on a new form, now widely known throughout the league.

Last season, the Heat had to reinvent themselves. After losing the face of the franchise in Dwyane Wade to the Chicago Bulls, the team was seemingly left without an identity. President Pat Riley was accused of haphazardly throwing a new squad together, with only Dragic and Hassan Whiteside to really rely on. Many feared head coach Erik Spoelstra couldn’t make heads or tails of the 2016-17 group. Heat Nation was lost.

But then, something wonderful happened. James Johnson transformed into a top 20 pick he never had a chance to previously develop into. Tyler Johnson, a Developmental-League alum, blossomed into a lightning-fast, 3-point machine. Waiters went from Kevin Durant and LeBron James’ scapegoat, to a South Beach, buzzer-beating hero. Miami built itself back up, game by game, until 11-30 became 30-11. And one year later, the thing that kept them going, is still going strong.

The Heat’s unique personality already shows in rookie Bam Adebayo.

"“I give Bam a lot of credit,” said Wayne Ellington. “As a young guy, it’s rare you see someone as professional and as hard working and who understands it as much as him. I don’t know if that’s the culture that just wears off on him immediately or those are habits that he already had coming in.”"

Probably a little bit of both, given how good Riley has gotten at finding guys that fit the mold.

Because you can’t ignite the fire it takes to call a team meeting after a 2-3 start to the season, if the flame wasn’t there to begin with. And you can’t force a bench full of players to celebrate every time one of their teammates makes an impressive play.

Sure, Miami being back above .500 is great news, made better by the team being on a three-game winning streak. And Ellington averaging 17.4 points on 21-of-36 shooting over the past four games is exactly the type of offensive stride the Heat needed to make.

However, what’s more important is the fact that Kelly Olynyk is starting to figure out his role on the squad. And that Justise Winslow’s future is looking brighter and brighter.

Next: Miami Heat ride Goran Dragic, James Johnson to top Chicago Bulls

That’s what Miami Heat Basketball is all about. Winning is just what comes out of it.