Silver Spring native and Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo appeared on The Pivot Podcast yesterday to discuss the NBA Eastern Conference Finals matchup, his long journey recovering from injuries, ‘Heat culture,’ and more in a wide-ranging interview.
Oladipo described his journey recovering from various severe injuries and his determination to return to NBA All-Star status in the interview, according to a press release.
“It tests you mentally, physically, and emotionally,” said Oladipo. “It makes you go through a whirlwind of emotions. Literally, you start thinking about if you’re good enough and if you should keep playing. I was sitting in a dark room, and I just broke down in tears. I didn’t know where to go. Once I reached that point, it was just answer after answer after that. I realized who was really with me, and they helped me get back to this point today. It’s made me stronger in ways that I probably wouldn’t have been as strong if it didn’t happen the way it happened.”
After back-to-back All-Star seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Oladipo only played in 60 regular-season games over the last three seasons but has returned to the rotation and playing an important role in the Heat’s championship hunt.
“There’s a certain level that I’m trying to get to,” said Oladipo. “I have to understand that that’s not my role on this team. I have to understand that I have to be a star in this role that I’m in. To be honest with you, do I want more? Of course, who doesn’t want more? Right now, [at] this junction, I have to be the best version of myself that this team needs. They need that version. Regardless of [my role] or what they ask of me, they need whatever it is they’re asking for. I have to embrace that.”
The Pivot Podcast co-host Fred Taylor continued to push Oladipo on his desire to return to his previous productivity considering the injuries he has sustained throughout his career. Oladipo said it’s a constant battle between patience and the natural desire to compete at the highest level of basketball.
“I’m human. Why shouldn’t it be me?” said Oladipo. “I’ve come back from everything you can imagine. Why do I have to wait longer? Honestly, I’m a lot better than I was a month ago and better than I was two and three months ago. I guess I just want it all right now. I’ve been dealing with this for years…It’s to the point where I’m just so over this rehab thing. I just want to focus on being great. But I have to understand that it’s a process.”
The hosts also asked Oladipo about the Heat’s leader, Jimmy Butler, who had a heated discussion with Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra during a game late in the regular season.
“There’s a real misconception about Jimmy and I think he understands that,” said Oladipo. “Nobody is perfect, obviously. He’s true to himself, and he understands who he is. Just because people perceive him one way, that doesn’t mean that’s him. When you’re on his team, you know you’re on his team.”
Oladipo also discussed what is known around the league as “Heat Culture,” described as the team’s ability to deal with adversity.
“Heat Culture is really the understanding that everyone needs to put in their part of the work for everything to work,” said Oladipo. “And we really do work hard, we get it in…It’s easier to experience than it is to explain. You have to be a part of it to really get what it is…There’s a different feeling and a different way of working. The different mentality is the biggest thing. We understand what we’re coming to do.”
With an NBA Finals spot on the line against the Boston Celtics, Oladipo expects another competitive series against two of the league’s best teams.
“We know it’s not going to be easy,” said Oladipo. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy no matter who we play. We know [it will] be a fight, but we’re all about the fight. We’re going to fight regardless, no matter what day it is or what time it is…I’m sure Boston is similar. We’re looking forward to it…These are two great defensive teams with a bunch of guys who can guard multiple positions and also put it on the floor. It’s going to be fun.”
Oladipo reiterated his intent to recover from his injuries fully. “I just want to make people remember,” said Oladipo. “Some of them forgot, and it’s okay, because it comes with the territory. But I [plan on going nowhere] but up. I’m just going to keep grinding.”
The full interview can be watched below or on The Pivot Podcast’s YouTube channel.
Oladipo was born at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, according to The MoCo Show. He attended DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville and was drafted as the 2nd overall pick by the Orlando Magic in 2013.
Photo: The Pivot Podcast/YouTube
We are expanding our coverage, and we need your help. Click here for more information.