Victor Oladipo calls it his Revenge Tour, the Miami Heat guard regularly filling his social media with posts about his grueling offseason workout schedule, including recent sessions with Russell Westbrook in Los Angeles.
As he explained on Vince Carter’s VC Show podcast, it has been work with the singular goal of getting back to the All-Star level previously reached before a string of knee and quadriceps issues.
“That’s something that I came up with, just because I felt like the last couple of years have been really tough on me,” Oladipo said, “and I’ve obviously gone through a lot individually and my team, my family have gone through a lot with me collectively.”
Last year, that meant Oladipo playing on an NBA-minimum salary, spending more than half the schedule rehabbing before a late-season debut.
But, from there, there were breakout moments during the Heat’s playoff run within one victory of the NBA Finals, and then a two-year, $18 million free-agency contract to return.
Now, the focus is singular, the intent of his summer of sweat geared toward one reality.
“That I’m one of the best players in the world. Period,” the 30-year-old veteran said. “I think that my injury has kind of built a misconception of who I am as a player.”
Even with the salary upgrade, free-agency interest was tepid, leaving Oladipo with further fuel.
“Why can’t I come back from this injury and what I’ve been through and have an even greater career than I thought I could have prior to it? Why can’t I?” Oladipo said in a passionate moment during the interview with Carter. “And I don’t see no reason why I can’t.
“So I truly believe that I can, and that’s what I’m trying to prove to myself, first and foremost, is that I’m capable of great things even now, it’s never too late, no matter what anyone says or what the world may think or what people tell you.”
In many ways, Oladipo finds himself in a similar place as Westbrook, who, at 33, increasingly finds himself among those who doubt his ability to reclaim prior All-Star form.
Oladipo and Westbrook were teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016-17.
“Me and Russ go way back,” Oladipo said. “We played together when he won MVP. So he prepared me for the following year to have the year I had after I left OKC. And I felt like I prepared himself for his MVP season before he became MVP. And right now, we’re on the same wavelength.
“We’re not going to let each other fail.”
Amid his rehab work after he was acquired by the Heat from the Houston Rockets at the 2021 NBA trading deadline for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley, Oladipo insisted a better version would emerge, even while limited to four regular-season appearances with the Heat in 2020-21 and eight this past season.
Now, for the first time since 2018, there has been the ability to challenge himself during an offseason.
“I’m itching just thinking about it. It’s so crazy. It’s like a rebirth,” the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA draft said. “And being in my 10th year, it feels like I’m in Year One all over again. But it’s like a Year One with a little bit of experience.
“I’m going to prepare myself for any and everything this summer. So whatever happens next year, it’s no shock to me.”
All while planning to arrive at training camp the final week of September as both a new man as well as his former All-Star self.
“I make sure people know that I’m coming for everybody,” he said of his Revenge Tour. “At the end of the day, it really don’t matter who it is. I just want to prove that I’m Victor Oladipo and I stand for who I am.”