How 2010 Changed My 20-and-10 Mindset
Working with Spo in Miami made me a better teammate—even when we were fighting about how much beer I could drink
I was lucky enough to be a pretty good player once upon a time in the league, at a fairly early age. I still remember the goal: “20 and 10!” Every summer, when I was grinding in the weight room in that Texas heat, that’s what I’d say to myself: Average 20 and 10 for the season. Like my heroes. Like the greats.
Then one year it hit me: I averaged 20 and 10, and nothing happened. The confetti didn’t come from the rafters. No one really cared. We didn’t make the playoffs, so the season was over and the playoffs went on without a hitch. As a matter of fact, the excitement picked up for all of the other teams, like it does every year, while I was sitting at home.
That left a kind of empty feeling in me. I thought averaging those numbers on a nightly basis would do something for me, give me a certain feeling as soon as I accomplished it. It didn’t happen. Year after year, we were watching Kobe, Pau and LO compete for glory against Paul, Ray and KG. I once spoke to an NBA great and he told me: “What you want is to play on that big stage.” He never once mentioned averaging a double-double or 20 and 10.
That set me on a different path. My wants and needs changed and grew into something different. That’s what made the Heat so appealing when they courted me for free agency. It was an opportunity to compete for a championship. To be greater than just an individual. To form a team that could compete.
When I got there, I realized it was true: All of those things were great. But don’t get me wrong: That doesn’t make it easy to go from being the best player on a team to being one of three. I still remember having all of those meetings with Spo demanding to be implemented more in the offense. To ask for more shots. To “get me the damn ball on the right block.” I had a different vision of what it would take for those Heat teams to be successful.
He would counter my demands with a list of his own: Defense, jumping for rebounds, and sacrifice were usually the main topics of conversation. I can’t lie – that would always drive me crazy. I’ll give it to Spo, he stuck to whatever vision he had in order to make that team successful and have a crack at a championship.
We had a lot of uncomfortable conversations. Him, being coach who loves fitness, asking me to cut down the beer intake; and me, being aware of my skill and talent, making suggestions about how much offensive freedom I should have. A lot of meetings in his office. Meetings in the summer. Dinners with the wives. Breakfast meetings after a tough loss. Splitting a 6 pack after getting embarrassed on the road in the playoffs – he didn’t mind that I drank those beers as long as I was ready for the next game.
I could go on and on. I eventually had to adapt and figure it out as it went on: to understand that it’s about teamwork and finding out how to mesh someone in order to accomplish a goal. I had to adapt to seeking the information necessary in order to win a championship, as opposed to waiting on the coach to put me in that magic situation. We all adapted to just getting the job done. Doing whatever it took and remembering that we’re on the same team, with the same goals in mind to accomplish our dreams.
Through all of those conversations, arguments and just doing what it took to get the job done, we did it. Frankly, we gave Spo a tough time – which is normal, and I’m sure he had hell trying to figure out how to coach a team full of superstars and NBA legends. That’s a lot of pressure, and everyone always thinks they have the best opinion of how things should go. But through determination and teamwork, we all chipped in to make a great thing happen.
As I got older in the league my last couple of years, I got to experience being a top 2 offensive option again, trying to lead a bunch of young guys. It was funny – I got to a point where I didn’t have those meetings about getting the ball in a specific area. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even want Spo drawing up plays for me, because I didn’t want other players knowing where I was going to get the ball. Falling into the offensive system and becoming a part of it was a habit that was built over years and years of those conversations on and off the court with Spo.
Those conversations eventually changed from what I needed to what the team needed. That’s one of the things I loved most my last couple of years in the league: I learned what it took to facilitate teamwork. About how important it was and is. To not only prepare yourself individually, but put the time into the team as well — so it can function properly and at an elite level. You have to put time into that.
Watching the Heat now, it’s interesting to see how Spo and the culture have continued to thrive through the players on the court. To see how the players have each other’s backs, how they move the ball and play together on offense, to see how the positionless basketball philosophy is thriving. I’m always analyzing and breaking down basketball when I look at the games. It’s an automatic thing that just happens – I can’t help it. I always watch the Heat play with a critical eye because I’m always interested. After that championship experience, I never saw the game the same way. And I bet the same will be true when the guys on the Heat today get this great experience in these playoffs.