From the bowels of The Wolstein Center to the bright lights near Biscayne Bay, former Cleveland State University guard Norris Cole has already made a name for himself within the National Basketball Association. Cole, the 28th overall selection in the most recent NBA Draft and former bodily foundation for a killer high-top fade, provided his team, the Miami Heat, with 20 points off of the bench in a crucial seven-point win over the Boston Celtics, a win that took his team to 2-0 in the very young 2011-12 season.
Benefiting largely from a hot hand and being surrounded by three future Hall of Famers trading against a zone defense, Cole provided the Heat with 14 fourth-quarter points (nine of which came in the final three minutes), several of which came in crucial moments, helping his employer avoid what would have been a huge collapse against an Eastern Conference rival. Cole has always been a viable weapon, on and off of the court; a high school Salutatorian, four-year collegiate athlete and graduate, and once the owner of a 40-point, 20-rebound, nine-assist night. But on a team that isn’t exactly rife with point guard prowess, settling for re-signing Mario Chalmers and providing a jersey to something called a Mike Bibby, it is wildly enlightening to see a local product not only have a solid rookie effort this early in his career, but one that has helped his team win and put his name on the map in an even larger font.
Certainly, anyone in the state of Ohio (and even Horizon League rivals outside of it) were aware of Cole’s swagger and skill set. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra used adjectives like “mature” and “pure,” discussing how his rookie point guard is all about the team. When his team had a 10-point lead following one of his jumpers, it would let that lead dwindle to three points before he was able to stop the bleeding, once again via the jump shot; Cole was 5-of-6 between 16 and 23 feet, the best mark of any player on this floor, on this night.
Even if he doesn’t have another 20-point night for the remainder of his stay within the league, Cole has already made a name for himself with one of the best teams in the league. And for one night, Cole received “MVP” chants from the few thousand fans within his home arena. Thats more than anyone could have imagined just two games into what is hopefully a very long and very successful career.
Somewhere, Gary Waters is smiling proudly.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)