Heat’s Oladipo reveals message to himself, ‘Bro, you had a pretty different journey, champ’ – The Denver Post


When it came to the quadriceps, the knee, the surgeries, the doctors, Victor Oladipo had to place his confidence in others.

When it came to the early-season struggles with his offense amid this return from preseason knee pain, the veteran Miami Heat guard merely had to look within.

Doubts were not part of that equation.

“I can score the basketball, man; I’ve been scoring my whole life,” Oladipo said in the wake of Saturday’s season-high 23-point performance, as the Heat turned their attention to Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena. “I missed a lot of basketball. But with that being said, man, my mindset is just stop worrying about the results, stop worrying about how it looks, stop worrying about things I can’t control, see what happens. Just keep working hard and it’s paying off. So just got to keep working.”

With the Heat limited in their bench offense now that Tyler Herro has transitioned to starter from 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, the struggles of the Heat bench to create offense has been a significant component to the team’s fall to the bottom of the league in scoring.

But a healthier Oladipo, one with eyes on the rim in addition to hands in the passing lane on the defensive end, could be a game changer over the second half of the schedule.

“My path and my journey is different than a lot of people’s,” Oladipo, 30, said, “and I have to remember that and just continue to stay patient with myself.

“Like I’ve been saying, soon I’ll be exactly where I need to be. So I just got to build on this and just keep getting better. It’s not always going to be perfect, but my mindset can be, for sure.”

It is that attitude and approach that has won over many in the locker room and coaching suite.

“Everybody celebrated him in the locker room,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Saturday’s postgame gathering, “because only the locker room understands what he’s been going through for the last two years. So much of his journey has been solitary. That’s tough and he’s had a great perspective about this.

“We’re not expecting this to happen overnight. But we want to commit to him in this process, he wants to commit to the team.”

With Herro at the top of his offensive game, and with an anticipation that Jimmy Butler will receive clearance for an interrupted return from his knee pain, the priority with Oladipo likely will remain his defensive disruptiveness.

But Spoelstra said that doesn’t mean Oladipo, with time, can’t morph into more.

“He’s been working so diligently behind the scenes on the off days,” Spoelstra said. “After games, he’s up in the practice gym working on his rhythm and all that stuff. If you’ve been out 70 percent of the games in the last four years, it takes time and you have to have patience, perspective on that.

“I told him the other day, I want him to have a little bit of grace with himself going through this process. We love being on this journey with him and, ultimately, I think it will still take 40 or 50 games for him to get fully in rhythm. But we got a snapshot of what it could look like at the end of this.”

For Oladipo, that means full speed ahead, yet also with needed patience.

“Honestly, it’s tough,” the former All-Star said, “because I have an expectation of myself. When I say that, I mean like I expect big things when it comes to this game and I’ve done great things in my career in this game and I don’t expect anything less from me.

“When it’s in the process, I’m human and you sometimes get a little frustrated. But then you have to deflect and take a step back and realize, ‘Bro, you had a pretty different journey, champ.’ So it’s going to take some time. But at the end of the day, it’s all about working hard and that’s what I do. I just got to keep working and like I said, as I continue to keep doing that, I’ll build a level of consistency and I can live with the results.”



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