Former Heat Champion on the Comeback Trail With Team USA

Norris Cole ASVEL

Getty Former Miami Heat guard Norris Cole handles the ball during a 2021 game between ASVEL and ALBA Berlin.

Former Miami Heat guard Norris Cole may as well have the phrase, “Got game, will travel” tattooed on his chest for prospective employers. The two-time NBA champ has been to just about every corner of the globe during his continuing hoops journey.

Cole — who’s suddenly 33 years old and six years removed from his last stint in the league — has plied his trade in Israel, Italy, Montenegro, Monaco, France, Spain and, most recently, Puerto Rico.

Right now, though, he finds himself in Recife, Brazil as a member of USA Basketball’s entry into the FIBA AmeriCup tournament. And with one game officially on the books, Cole has already done a bang-up job of making his presence known.

It’s his hope that his play with Team USA continues to send a strong message to league decision-makers as the national team defends its regional title.

Going for the Gold

In a team-high 27 minutes on the floor during the Americans’ tourney opener, Cole scored 11 points, dished out four assists, grabbed a pair of boards and nabbed two steals against Mexico. He also banged down three triples in five tries.

However, the formerly flat-topped baller probably wasn’t surprised by his strong debut performance. For him, it’s just business as usual.

“I still have the ability,” Cole said last week, via the Associated Press. “God has still blessed me with the ability. I still have the fire, the hunger and I still feel like I have something to prove, things that I would like to accomplish as a player. That feeling of winning a championship, the mission, the goal, the work to try to get to that point again, that’s what drives me as a competitor. And I want that feeling again.”

As much as anything, Cole hopes that winning the gold for the US will aid in reopening some of the doors that have been closed off to him in recent years.

“Just a chance, that’s all I ask,” Cole said. “I have a lot I can bring to a team. I want to continue to show that.”

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Cole’s eventful 2021-22 season began with Unicaja of Liga ACB, a team he would make 22 appearances for across all competitions. He made the most of his time with the club, too, averaging 11.6 points and 4.2 assists per game and nailing 35.4% of his three-point attempts.

In the end, though, the two sides parted ways and Cole made his way back to LNB Pro A in France, where he had won a title with ASVEL the previous year. This time playing for JL Bourg, the former Heatster made eight appearances to close out the campaign, averaging 13.3 points and 3.6 assists per game.

Before making the AmeriCup cut, Cole signed with the Puerto Rican team Atleticos de San German in July. In five games down the stretch, he averaged 15.0 points and 1.6 assists while helping the club to a BSN Finals appearance.


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