Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, that time of year to gather with family and friends to give thanks for the many blessings we've enjoyed. Taking time to show gratitude — if only for a few hours while eating turkey and watching football — is a healthy exercise that's good for the soul. It's important to spread positivity and give thanks for what life brought us this year.
For that reason, it seems like the perfect time to take a step back and count our blessings as Miami Heat fans. These are the five biggest reasons Heat fans are thankful, now and forever.
5. Jimmy Butler choosing the Heat in free agency. The Miami Heat is off to a impressive start this season, but more important, the team is just a lot of freaking fun. This time last year, the Heat looked like a sinking ship that was years away from competing for a championship. This offseason, however, Jimmy Butler decided the team's recent record wasn't as important as the Heat's longtime reputation as a classy organization that provides players with everything they need to be the best version of themselves. Butler saw that as a fit, and it turns out he was more than a little correct.
Butler hasn't stopped smiling since he arrived in Miami, and the squad the Heat has assembled around him has proven his decision to be forward-thinking. Basketball in the Magic City has a bright future with Butler in the fold, and Heat fans are thankful.
4. The steady and dependable coaching of future Hall of Fame head coach Erik Spoelstra. Only the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich has been with a team longer than Erik Spoelstra has been with the Miami Heat. Since 2008, Spoelstra has been the lead man on the bench for Miami's favorite little basketball team. He's seen it all. From 15-win seasons to the LeBron James juggernaut of 2011 to 2014, Spoelstra has been here, remaining steady, never compromising who he is or how he coaches.
When LeBron tried to bully him out of the job for Pat Riley, Spo pushed back and gained his trust. When Miami is on the hunt for a free agent, Spo is a major reason players such as Jimmy Butler choose Miami. Spoelstra started from the basement, breaking down film in 2001, and he'll likely end his Heat years as the most powerful man the franchise has ever seen.
When Riley retires, which could be soon, there will be no drop-off within the organization thanks to Spoelstra, who at 49 could lead the Heat culture for the next two decades. Miami couldn't ask for a better coach.
3. The absolute awesomeness that is Udonis Haslem. Though this Heat season seems to be the final one for Miami native Udonis Haslem, many seasons have seemed like the last. It feels like he could play forever, really. That the 39-year-old Haslem is still playing basketball for the Heat in 2019 — damn near two decades — seems almost impossible. If anyone would have predicted that Haslem, a star in the 2006 NBA Finals, would still be on the Heat bench in 2020, it would have likely included a head-coaching role, not his current player-coach mix.
His sticking around to bridge the gap between the old and new Heat eras is admirable, and it's crucial to ensuring the Heat culture lives on years after he's hung up his jersey. If this is the final go-round for Haslem, so be it. Heat fans will consider every moment from here on out bonus time.
2. Potential Rookie of the Year Kendrick Nunn. The final day of last season, the Heat made what seemed like a nonsequential token balancing of the roster when the team plucked Kendrick Nunn from the Golden State Warriors. Nobody thought much of it, but this offseason, rumors flew that this guy was anything but a player signed to balance the Heat's roster checkbook. Once the preseason began, rumors became obvious fact: This guy can play basketball, and the Heat may have hit the jackpot.
Nunn scored 40 against the Rockets this preseason, has gone on to break all-time rookie records for his first weeks and month in the NBA, and is not only a rotation player for the Heat but also a solid starter. Nunn has allowed Butler to play more point and concentrate more on assists while also making the nearly monthlong absence of Justise Winslow hurt much less than it otherwise would have.
Basically, the Heat scored a first-round pick for nothing months before the NBA Draft. Thanks!
1. The Miami Heat scouting department. Remember when people used to say the Miami Heat doesn't play young players and Pat Riley isn't good at the draft? Yeah, that's not a thing anymore. The Heat can identify talent better than any other team in the NBA.
Examples: Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow, and Tyler Herro are hits with recent first-round picks. But Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson are even better proof the Heat front office knows its stuff. These are just the most recent instances of the Heat finding talent where others fail.
Hassan Whiteside was an unknown before he signed with the Heat, and going back even further, Udonis Haslem was plucked out of obscurity before he became a Hall of Fame player. Everything in between has been a mix of identifying the best free agents, seeing who fits best on the roster, and figuring out which players can become useful if not special.
The Heat has the best scouts in the NBA and arguably in any sports organization. It's continually proven time and time again.
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