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Are the Heat the NBA’s most book smart team? They think so.

Jan 14, 2014, 3:11 PM EDT

BASKET-NBA-FINALS-SPURS-HEAT Getty Images

An NBA locker room is not the most academic of settings. It’s not a book club sitting around discussing “The Luminaries” (even though with all the down time NBA players have they have the time to get through it).

There are smart, well read guys in the NBA, however, and they tend to be veteran guys who have matured and had their interests broaden.

The Miami Heat have a lot of those guys and think they may be the most intelligent team in the NBA — and that is on and off the court. The players talked about it for an interesting piece by Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report.

“Out of a lot of teams that I played for, this is the smartest group of teammates that I’ve ever had, and that’s both on the court as far as basketball IQ, but then off the court as well,” Roger Mason Jr. said. “We talk about many, many things that don’t have to do with basketball that I haven’t typically been able to speak to teammates about in the past.”

Battier, a Duke graduate, has found that to be true too: “We have a great diversity of interests off the court. It’s probably the most ‘read’ team I’ve been a part of, which is rare. I’ve been on teams where I’ve never seen anyone pick up a book and read on a plane. We have a lot of readers on this team, and a lot of guys who are about things outside academics. Art and culture and music. It makes for a well-rounded locker room. I don’t know how much of that plays into our success, but I think it has.”

“I’ve had teammates that say, ‘Screw a book,’ ” (Ray Allen) said. “I’ve had coaches tell me that I was too smart. They just wanted me to be quiet and just play basketball. So, I’ve found it to be a struggle to be a person—not that I’m trying to be smart, but I want to learn, I want to figure the world out, and observe things, and learn from people, and that’s never been taken as well, as easy by some players and organizations. Because they just want you to not question—they just want you to go forward and just be an athlete.”

I’m not sure if the Heat are the most book smart team, but the one that would give them the best run for the money is the Spurs, their Finals opponent last year. Draw your own conclusions.

If you want them, there are guys in the NBA who fit the dumb jock stereotype. Just like there are in NFL, MLB and NHL locker rooms.

But mostly, what you have is a diverse group of people who happen to be gifted and good at this one particular thing, this form of entertainment we call basketball. They are paid handsomely for it. We tend to see them only as athletes we want them to fit into our box of what we think an athlete is and should say/do.

But these are human beings experiencing life just as you and I are, they are people with families and friends and diverse interests. Some guys are into the stock market, some into cars, even a few into books. Pau Gasol has sat in on surgeries. There are more guys in the league that are exceptions to the rule than are the rule. But as we tend to see these people through the lens of their high-profile job, we expect them to fit into the box society has drawn for them.

It’s good to talk about how many of them don’t

  1. gameisours - Jan 14, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    I would really like to know Ray in person.

    • money2long - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      manti te’o would be fine knowing him virtually.

  2. bucrightoff - Jan 14, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Certainly in the top 3 biggest flopping teams. It does take some smarts to get away with flopping as flaggrantly as LeBron “LeBroning” James does.

  3. captainwisdom8888 - Jan 14, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    My guess as to the smartest team would be the Houston Rockets, solely because Lin is a Harvard graduate. As for anyone else on the team, they can be dumb as rocks for all I know…

    • zerole00 - Jan 14, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      So your guess for who the smartest TEAM is, is based on one player? Wanna bet who the dumbest poster so far is?

  4. danmarinos1stlovechild - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    They’re a real team in every sense of the word!

  5. antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    They are an intelligent, unselfish group that has their priorities in order. I’ve never seen a team less deserving of the hate they get than these guys.

    • nflcrimerankingscom - Jan 14, 2014 at 5:13 PM

      Except for having the dirtiest player in the league in Wade…

      • miamatt - Jan 14, 2014 at 6:13 PM

        However you wanna frame it, what you really mean is, “Waaaaaahhhhh!!!”

  6. peterjohnjoseph - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    So basically its Shane Battier debating with himself, while everyone nods in agreement and adds little bits in that they heard on MSNBC. No ones going to tell Lebron he’s wrong. So what if during a debate on String Theory he proclaimed, “I like the white kind”. He’s still right.

  7. asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Beasley probably reads a lot about horticulture.

  8. imthedudedude - Jan 14, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Why use a picture from last year? Just curious what was special about that picture? They actually don’t look very smart in that picture either.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 6:50 PM

      Mike Miller’s ponytail was too much to not include.

  9. dinofrank60 - Jan 14, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    “I’ve had coaches tell me that I was too smart. They just wanted me to be quiet and just play basketball.

    Oh yeah, Ray. That statement fits a certain ex-coach of yours; I don’t doubt he told you that.

    • dinofrank60 - Jan 15, 2014 at 12:39 AM

      BTW, this is not a knock on Ray, because I can guess who the coach might be. He would question Ray’s commitment.

  10. Kansachusetts - Jan 14, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Good post, Kurt.

  11. money2long - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    hm, did you guys know bynum is a smart azz guy? like i think kobe used to go to him to fix his computer and stuff. i may have the story wrong but, i just know bynum likes working on technology. and is smarter than you think he is. pat riley probably knows this

  12. GT - Jan 15, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Not being stupid does not equal smart the way winning isn’t the same as not losing.

  13. tuberippin - Jan 18, 2014 at 4:42 AM

    I’m not so sure about that. Chris “Birdman” Andersen doesn’t strike me as a particularly intelligent man.

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