Norris Cole was fearless. Fans can sense that and love it.
Cole became the new fan favorite (behind the big 3) in Miami by scoring 14 fourth-quarter points to stave off a Boston comeback and keep the Heat perfect on the young season. Cole, the rookie out of Cleveland State, was the man knocking down the shots over the Boston zone with the game on the line.
Let’s be clear — Cole got his shots because Boston played good defense against the Heat players you have to stop. Make LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh give up the ball. Make someone else beat you.
Norris Cole beat them. And became a cult hero in the process.
Cole was a sleeper in the draft, playing at a small school like Cleveland State he was a guy who did everything pretty well but was not an elite NBA athlete, not a guy who could create shots at the NBA level.
But he landed in Miami, where he doesn’t have to — he just has to knock down the chances he gets. Not freeze up in the moment. Catch and shoot, or when the hole is there drive. That’s what he did. Watch the highlights.
Cole was fearless in the moment. He has some swagger. Fans gravitate toward that. I’m not sure you want him taking more shots than Bosh and Wade many nights (like he did against Boston), but when he’s hot let him shoot.
Cole is now a cult hero in Miami, and if he can just keep playing smart like this his role will grow. The Heat already have Mario Chalmers who does not shy away from big moments, and Mike Miller can knock down shots blindfolded. That would be three guys the Heat can lean on any given night to be support to the big three.
Other teams are going to keep forcing someone else to beat them. Cole may be happy to oblige.
It’s a trend: Russell Westbrook posts video of him singing two more breakup songs
The Heat and Bosh need to come to common ground on this before training camp opens. Bosh is on blood thinners for his condition, the team and he need to decide if he can come off them on game days or if there is another protocol that works for everyone.
The Heat would be a vastly better team with Bosh on the court this season, but that didn’t motivate them to bring him back during the playoffs last season (even though he wanted to). Whatever happens, Bosh wants to play.
Former Nuggets coach Bernie Bickerstaff talks when Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf sat for Anthem
Twenty years before Colin Kaepernick made his stand by sitting for the national anthem during preseason games — something he has every right to do: if we are going to force compliance in our rituals of allegiance how are we different as a nation than the countries we rail against for forced indoctrination? — the NBA had Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.
For those that don’t remember, Abdul-Rauf was a good NBA guard and a member of a Denver Nuggets in the mid-1990s. He had converted to being a Muslim during his playing career. As his faith and beliefs grew, he came to view the flag as a symbol of oppression. In the middle of the 1995-96 season, he told the NBA he would no longer stand for the anthem. Everything was kept quiet for a while, but when the PR storm hit it led to a few strange days — the league suspended him at one point — before was a compromise where he would stand for the anthem but pray into his hands during it.
Bernie Bickerstaff was the coach of the Nuggets at the time and went on SiriusXM NBA Radio Monday to talk about those days. His first reaction was that of virtually every coach who has heard or talked about Kaepernick.
“Distractions,” Bickerstaff said. “It caused a lot of distractions, and you know at that point the number of media members was not quite as resounding as it is today. But still, it was a distraction.”
Bickerstaff said he was blindsided byAbdul-Rauf’s decision, and he said they scrambled to deal with the fallout. He said he and the brain trust of the team eventually had a meeting with the guard and told him if he wanted to be on the team he had to stand for the anthem.
“We had him come in, to sit down and have a conversation, and the conversation was about, the one thing that we have in this life is freedom of choice, and with that choice comes consequences. And my conversation with him was simply that one of the guys I probably admired most at that time was Muhammad Ali, because not only did he make a decision not to step forward but it was the part of it, the things that he gave up, and our message basically to (Abdul-Rauf) was ‘Hey, that’s the guy I admire. If you really feel that way then you go home, and you give us a call and let us know you’re willing to walk away from that contract, and then I can really, really, respect that…
“When he got home, we got a call and he said ‘I think I want to be on the trip.’ And that’s our understanding, if you’re on the trip, then you’re standing.”
The NBA came in with a more fair compromise.
If this were to happen again with the NBA, it would be interesting to see how Adam Silver would handle this compared to the heavy-handed David Stern.