Cole's quest: 'Destroy whoever he plays'
July, 10, 2012
By Michael Wallace
MIAMI -- So what does a rookie point guard who just won an NBA championship in his first season in the league do for an encore?
For Norris Cole, the answer is simple.
"Right back to work," Cole said Tuesday between practices with the Miami Heat's summer league team as it prepares to play in Las Vegas next week.
Just three weeks ago, Cole was on the Heat's home court alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as the Heat finished off the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to win the title.
On Tuesday, Cole was in his familiar practice jersey, but surrounded by a completely different set of teammates -- young free agents, second-round picks or undrafted players aspiring to NBA jobs.
Cole is the lone player from the Heat's Finals rotation on the summer league team that will play five games in Las Vegas starting Sunday against similar NBA teams stocked with young players. Seldom-used Heat center Dexter Pittman and guard Terrel Harris, who were both with the Heat last season, are also on the summer league squad.
The team's primary goal is to help Cole build on his sporadic rookie campaign in hopes of becoming a consistent contributor in the point guard rotation behind starter Mario Chalmers during Miami's title defense. The NBA's labor dispute prevented Cole from participating in summer league play last season.
So there's plenty of work to catch up on, despite the fact that he was part of a team that passed a major test this season.
"I don't want him ever thinking he's arrived to a point where he's now being hunted," said Heat assistant Dave Fizdale, who will coach the summer league team. "He has to stay hungry. And he has to play this summer like a guy who did not win a title."
Fizdale emphasized that Cole will be featured in just about every aspect of the Heat's game plan while in Las Vegas. He hopes to see Cole, the Heat's first-round draft pick in 2011, take more command of the offense by becoming a vocal leader as well as an aggressive playmaker.
"The offense is in his hands to make the play calls, to make the reads and to really quarterback the team," Fizdale said. "We're breeding Norris a different way. Norris is a hunter. Norris doesn't care about people coming after him, and all that. We're developing him to be an attacker. So he's going out to Vegas with the intent to destroy whoever he plays against."
Cole averaged 6.8 points, 2.0 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game last season. He played in 65 games, including 19 playoff appearances. He averaged 11 minutes a game in the Finals.
Cole said the past three weeks have been a whirlwind for him since the championship, but he's ready to end his extremely abbreviated offseason to improve his game and possibly expand his role.
"Even though we won a championship, I know I can get better ... need to get better to help this team grow," Cole said. "I'm going out there [Las Vegas] to get better. Competition is good for everybody."