by Josh Kipnis
Google his name, and a fictional soap opera character is all you will find. Click on his bio on NBA.com and you will find they haven’t even bothered writing one. Ever heard of Norris Benjamin Cole? Didn’t think so.
The Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics last night, 115-107. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade each scored over 20 points, but it was Miami’s rookie sensation, Norris Cole, who stole the show.
The Celtics were without Paul Pierce for a second straight game and it seemed as though they would not have nearly enough offensive firepower to compete with the most elite team in the league. Boston trailed by as much as twenty at one point.
Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen refused to concede, catching fire early in the fourth. They trimmed the lead down to three with one minute remaining in the game. Doc Rivers called a timeout to discuss the ensuing Heat possession.
In a situation like this one, Rivers had to pick his poison. Which of the Big 3 do you want taking the final shot? James, Wade, and Bosh had already combined to score 68 points.
LeBron held the ball on the left elbow, jab stepping and looking as if he was about to throw up his signature fade away. The shot clock struck four and in the corner of his eye was Cole at the top of the key, practically begging for the ball. Cole caught the pass and pump faked a three, sending Rondo off balance, allowing the rookie to take a dribble inside the arc and drill the open jumper with 2.3 on the shot clock (gotta love the much-needed milliseconds on the shot clock). Who is this guy?
Norris Cole was the 28th overall pick in this year’s draft. The pick belonged to the Chicago Bulls, but they traded his rights to the T-Wolves who then dealt him to the Heat. The 6 foot 2 inch, 23 year old was the Horizon League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year his senior season at Cleveland State.
Cole was absolutely sensational in Miami’s home opener. He was 8 of 16 in the field with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. 14 of his 20 came in the 4th quarter. In the final three minutes, he scored 9 straight points.
“You grow up and live for moments like that,” Cole said after the game. Cole was then asked if this would be a common theme in the future. “It’s only my second game; I don’t know what normal is.”
I can tell you what isn’t normal, a rookie receiving MVP chants in his second NBA game.
With 9.3 seconds left, Cole approached the free throw line. “MVP! MVP! MVP!” It wasn’t for James, Wade, or Bosh; it was for the rookie whose talents somehow landed in South Beach.