The Managing Director has been impressed.
For the Miami Heat, it is praise that is Olympian in nature.
And well could foretell a future as world-beaters.
Although formally working this Heat-Philadelphia 76ers Eastern Conference semifinal NBA playoff series merely as television analyst for TNT, Grant Hill, the Hall of Fame former forward, is somewhat double-dipping.
Having taken over for Jerry Colangelo as managing director of USA Basketball’s National Team after last summer’s run to Olympic gold in Tokyo, Hill finds himself having to help fill out coaching staffs and rosters for upcoming entries to the World Cup and 2024 Paris Olympics.
Which sort of makes this series unofficial tryouts for the Heat’s Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Erik Spoelstra.
“It’s one of the benefits, I guess, to my broadcasting job, is the chance to see some of these players up close and personal,” Hill told the Sun Sentinel. “Seeing these players in person, you learn a lot, watching in person, as opposed to on video or on television.
“And as I learned more about the international game, it’s a little bit of a different game. Yeah, you’re able to, I guess in a way, scout.”
For Adebayo, the book has already been written, with his contribution to last summer’s gold in Japan.
But even since, Hill said he has seen continued growth.
“Bam, I think, his game and how he plays is perfectly suited for the international stage,” Hill said. “First of all, he’s well-coached. He has a great culture. He’s a guy who I believe has worked hard and worked on his game, and developed the offensive side, the ballhandling, the passing.
“His numbers aren’t going to necessarily overwhelm you. But the little plays, the understanding of making the right read, the discipline on defense, being able to guard multiple actions, qualities like that have served him well with the Heat, and certainly have served him well on the international stage.”
Then there is Herro, who was invited to work out against the Olympic roster last summer, as part of the USA Select Team, a group of prospects who could set up as next-gen Olympians.
“His growth in the last three years has been incredible,” Hill said. “And for a young guy, he didn’t look at the role of being a sixth man as a demotion but as an opportunity, and how he embraced that and just shattered the competition when it comes to sixth man.
“He was part of the Select Team and was impressive, and certainly will be a candidate as we progress forward with the World Cup and with the Olympics.”
And then there’s Spoelstra, who coached the Select Team last summer and then was named to the Olympic staff of Steve Kerr, who takes over from Gregg Popovich as national coach.
“I’ve always been a fan of Coach Spo,” Hill said. “Honestly, I didn’t know him that well. Had a chance to spend some quality time with him in Vegas this last summer, as the Select Team was preparing the Olympic team, and was just blown away.
“I think he’s a great communicator. I think his players play hard. I think that’s always been the consistent theme no matter who’s been in the uniform. You feel as though they really believe in him and believe in the culture there.”
For the moment, the sole focus for Adebayo, Herro and Spoelstra is getting past the 76ers and moving on to the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in three years.
But in six years, with the Olympics in Los Angeles, there could be arguably a higher calling for the Heat trinity.
“I really love Spo, and am excited that he’s being willing to be a part of this and this great staff,” Hill said, “and will be a candidate down the road to be the head coach himself after this next quad.”
For now, the “tryouts” continue, with Hill again to be working courtside for TNT at Sunday’s Game 4 at Wells Fargo Center.
IN THE LANE
JUXTAPOSED: Even a year after Dwyane Wade joined the Utah Jazz’s ownership group, Spoelstra said it remains difficult to see the Heat icon anywhere but courtside at FTX Arena, which was the case Wednesday night for Game 2 of Heat-76ers. “He’s living the life,” Spoelstra said following that Heat victory. “Front row Utah games, and front row here. I was actually surprised. That’s what I told him out there. I said, ‘I don’t care what, it’s an incredible opportunity there,’ but it just looks weird when he’s sitting front row at a Utah game. And next to Danny Ainge? Come on. But it was great to have him.” Next on Spoelstra’s wish list is getting former Heat champion Chris Bosh back in the building during this playoff run.
THE CODE: Before that Game 2, 76ers coach Doc Rivers offered his thoughts on the flagrant foul by the Memphis Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks that left the Golden State Warriors’ Gary Payton II with a fractured elbow and Brooks with an ejection and one-game suspension. “Anything from behind is very dangerous,” Rivers said, when asked if Brooks crossed a line. “I will say this, Dillon Brooks is a competitive dude. Yeah, I didn’t like seeing that. I know his intent wasn’t to hurt anybody. Sometimes I think guys, they do get carried away. I’ve been guilty of that as a player . . . you’ll find film. It happens. It’s such a reactive game. You don’t get a second to react. You’re chasing a guy down, so plays like that happen.” Rivers added, “It looked bad, it really did. But the physicality definitely won’t leave our game, either. There’s going to be times when a collision happens and someone gets hurt, but no one intends to get hurt.”
F – – – JAE: To say former Heat forward Jae Crowder is polarizing would be an understatement considering his sometimes overly aggressive play. But he also has a playful side. So no sooner did New Orleans Pelicans fans show up wearing “F— Jae Crowder” shirts during the first round of the playoffs, and no sooner did his Phoenix Suns teammate Devin Booker dare to do the same, then Crowder, too, shirted up. The more troubling part for Crowder was his daughter hearing such chants at Smoothie King Center. “I had to explain to her it’s all fun and games, it’s all competition,” he said of his 8-year-old. “I had to play mind games with her, ‘They really love your daddy.’ ” Said Booker, “It’s really a beautiful thing, man. It’s respect at its highest level. Having 15, 20 thousand people chant your name, that’s pretty impressive. Good for Jae. People that didn’t know his name when they went to the game know it now.” And, yes, Crowder would up selling the shirts himself on his website, as he moved on to the second round against the Dallas Mavericks.
A BIG FAN: A distant second to Herro in voting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love had nothing but praise for the third-year Heat guard on Twitter. “Everyone who knows me knows I love Tyler Herro’s game [and swag],” Love posted, “much respect on an incredible 6th man campaign. Best is yet to come.”
LESSON LEARNED: In the wake of his team’s 4-1 loss to the Heat in the first round, Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler said this past week that the need for overdue change became apparent in that series. “I think if you asked our front office, they would say that they thought, based on last season’s visit to the Eastern Conference finals, that we could bring back predominantly the same team and get better, and [they] expected to be better,” Ressler told Atlanta media. “I don’t think that worked out the way we thought. Yes, I think we should have tried to get better rather than bring back what we had. That won’t happen again. It was a mistake, in my opinion at least.”
5-0. Heat home playoff record. The five-game home winning streak is the team’s longest in the playoffs since an 11-game home run from June 13, 2014 to May 30, 2014.
Source: Berkshire mont