Dec 28, 2011, 12:55 PM EDT
Norris Cole was fearless. Fans can sense that and love it.
Cole became the new fan favorite (behind the big 3) in Miami by scoring 14 fourth-quarter points to stave off a Boston comeback and keep the Heat perfect on the young season. Cole, the rookie out of Cleveland State, was the man knocking down the shots over the Boston zone with the game on the line.
Let’s be clear — Cole got his shots because Boston played good defense against the Heat players you have to stop. Make LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh give up the ball. Make someone else beat you.
Norris Cole beat them. And became a cult hero in the process.
Cole was a sleeper in the draft, playing at a small school like Cleveland State he was a guy who did everything pretty well but was not an elite NBA athlete, not a guy who could create shots at the NBA level.
But he landed in Miami, where he doesn’t have to — he just has to knock down the chances he gets. Not freeze up in the moment. Catch and shoot, or when the hole is there drive. That’s what he did. Watch the highlights.
Cole was fearless in the moment. He has some swagger. Fans gravitate toward that. I’m not sure you want him taking more shots than Bosh and Wade many nights (like he did against Boston), but when he’s hot let him shoot.
Cole is now a cult hero in Miami, and if he can just keep playing smart like this his role will grow. The Heat already have Mario Chalmers who does not shy away from big moments, and Mike Miller can knock down shots blindfolded. That would be three guys the Heat can lean on any given night to be support to the big three.
Other teams are going to keep forcing someone else to beat them. Cole may be happy to oblige.