Miami Heat center Dewayne Dedmon did his normal pre-game routine, ripping off his warm-up clothes and taking a seat on the bench. He assumed everything was copasetic as he entered Wednesday night’s game at the 4:57 mark of the first quarter. Boy was he wrong.
The name on the back of his No. 21 jersey read “Dedman” instead of Dedmon. He didn’t even notice it until someone else pointed it out during a timeout. The embarrassing mistake brought back some bad memories from his childhood when kids used to tease him with the unfriendly nickname.
Long-time Heat equipment manager Rob Pimental was to blame, but Dedmon harbored no ill will. The two became fast friends when the 31-year-old was working out in Miami this past summer trying to stay in shape.
“At a timeout, they told me [about the jersey mistake]. I didn’t know,” Dedmon told reporters. “I had faith that it was spelled right. It was alright, that’s my guy Rob, he holds me down. I ain’t tripping.”
One reporter asked the big man if he’d be saving the misspelled jersey. No. Dedmon went on to share more insight on his troubles with the name dating back to his elementary school days in California.
“That’s actually something when I was in elementary school, I used to get in a lot of fights over that,” Dedmon said. “People used to call me that … so, no, that’s not my name.”
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Dedmon Wowing Teammates, Big Minutes
Wardrobe malfunctions aside, Dedmon has been supplying big minutes for the Heat off the bench. The savvy veteran was signed off the street — Dedmon hadn’t played since before the Orlando bubble in March 2020 – to allow starting center Bam Adebayo the ability to rest. He’s served that role and then some, way better than advertised.
“He kept himself at a very high fitness level, and he really takes care of his body so I think that helped him immensely,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Dedmon. “So now if you just compact those minutes into what we’re doing, 15-18 minutes [per game], it’s all energy, it’s all everything that he does and he empties the tank which is great.”
Dedmon scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 16 minutes versus the San Antonio Spurs. He played each minute like it was his last, hounding opposing players in the paint and attacking at the rim. He’s averaging 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in eight games.
“He plays incredibly hard. He’s unselfish. He takes all the right shots,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said. “We probably want him to shoot the ball a little bit more, especially on that pick-and-pop. But he’s a pro’s pro. He comes in. He stars in his role. And he’s not handed anything.”
Spoelstra Earns Milestone 600th Win
Spoelstra was hired in April 2008 personally by Pat Riley to be his hand-picked successor in Miami. Many were shocked at the time, especially when he was tasked with coaching the first Big Three (LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade) in 2010. But the “technologically skilled” coach brought a new perspective to things and eventually guided the Heat to two world titles.
Fast forward 13 years and he’s still striking a chord. Spoelstra celebrated his 600th career victory on Wednesday night following the Heat’s 116-111 win over the Spurs. The 50-year-old talked about that initial conversation with Riley.
“It is humbling, obviously I always think about Pat [Riley] and Micky [Arison], for having this incredible opportunity to coach with this franchise,” Spoelstra said. “And I feel a great responsibility to do it the right way, for something they started and created. And then I always think about what Pat first told me, when he first told me I was going to be the head coach, he said ‘just embrace it, enjoy it, do the best that you can every single day but it’s going to go by like that.'”