Justise Winslow discussed his partnership with Met-Rx, Dwyane Wade’s return, his strong play as of late and even some March Madness with Hot Hot Hoops on Wednesday prior to the Miami Heat’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings.
Once again, Justise was very candid, giving insight into what makes this Heat team unique and the work it takes to be an effective player at the NBA level.
Talk to me a little bit about what you have going on with Met-Rx, how is the partnership affecting your training as you head into the end of the year?
“It’s been about a year now, that I’ve been partnered with Met-Rx. Coming off my shoulder injury, I just wanted to come back in tip-top shape and continue to take my game to the next level. So it was a great opportunity to partner with a great company like Met-Rx, and using all their supplements, like their “Big 100 Bar” and their protein supplements. Just ultimately trying to get in the best shape possible, getting stronger faster and taking my game to the next level and so, it’s been a great year, and a great partnership.”
“I’m really seeing the benefit of using their products and I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life, which is going to be key headed into the last stretch of the season. A lot of it comes down to outlasting teams, part of that is the work I put in and part of that is the help I get from a great company like Met-Rx.”
You’ve been killing it lately, when we spoke in October we talked about your work ethic. Do you attribute your level of play lately, with your preparation?
“Yeah for me, I’ve been playing well as of late and I wish it could have happened earlier in the season, but sticking with it, I think is a testament to my work ethic and my mental stability.”
“Things weren’t going my way earlier in the season, but now things are starting to go in the direction I want them to. A lot of it comes from being a player and a person, not being satisfied, not thinking things are just going to start coming easy for me, but just continuing to put in the work, continuing to work hard and continue to be mentally stable and consistent. But I think it’s definitely a testament to my work ethic, the work is starting to pay off. Seeing the results is definitely a good feeling.”
How great does it feel to start being recognized for your defense, how does it feel seeing plays like your stop on CJ McCollum the other night getting consistent burn on social media?
“Yeah I mean, that was probably my favorite possession of the entire season. He’s a great scorer in the league and for me, I just took the challenge and put myself out there. I mean, he could’ve crossed, or thrown up a shot in my face, but regardless I put my best foot forward and tried to lock him up. (*laughs) I ended up getting that possession, but what I’m thankful for is that I inspire my teammates with my play on both ends of the court and that play really inspired us that game. We didn’t get the win, but we came back and fought hard so just trying to make those inspiring plays for my teammates and kind of be that energy spark off the bench and help turn the game when our team needs a close.”
One thing I’ve noticed this season, even when things aren’t going well, your shot mechanics stay the same. How do you stay focused, even when shots aren’t falling.
“Just staying true to my mechanics, you don’t want to be a guy who misses two shots in a row and then starts to change his whole shot. So I mean for me, in the offseason it was all about finding that perfect shot and ultimately getting to the point whereI could shoot it the same way every time. That wasn’t the case in the summer, but I understood that I could build that perfect shot, to get to the point where you can do it seven out of ten times, and then eight out of ten times.”
“That’s what being a great shooter is all about, it’s about that consistency. It’s not going to happen overnight, it’s not even going to happen in two weeks, it’s just working and working until that muscle memory is built. You can’t shoot, a wrong shot, or shoot a bad shot, it has to be perfect. Ultimately that’s what it’s about. So earlier in the season when things weren’t falling, it was just sticking with my mechanics and trusting myself...not rethinking it, just staying true, believing in myself and turning the page until things start falling.”
JJ Redick spoke recently on his podcast about his strict pregame rituals, is this a Duke thing, do you have a routine you have to stick to each game?
“Yeah, I have a routine that I like to do, especially on the court. Just doing things to get my body ready, activating my muscles, stretching. There’s definitely a routine and we talk about it here at the Heat. I’m sure JJ (James Johnson) can speak to it as well, just having a routine, having consistency in your workplace is a big key to your performance, whether it’s the time I wake up, or the time I get to the gym, or the time I start stretching just having that routine and consistency is big in this league.”
Any superstitions that go with it?
“Nah, not really any superstitions, but just anything from when I tuck my jersey in to when I tie my shoes, but there’s no crazy superstitions. I like to create my own luck, just maintaining the routine.”
What makes this Heat team unique?
“I think our depth, we can go extremely deep. We have a lot of guys that have a lot of regular season experience. That’s a big key for us and also our versatility, we have a lot of guys who can play different positions. So I think really, our depth and versatility is something that makes us unique.”
What’s the team’s mentality, headed into tonight and the final stretch?
“Just treating every game like a playoff game, we understand the importance of each game going down the stretch. Especially with how tight it is in both conferences. So when we’re playing these teams who really aren’t playing for anything, playing to lose almost, playing for draft picks you know we’ve got to take care of these teams and win these games, not to say they’re not going to play hard, or try to win, but these games have more meaning for us. So we’re trying to treat every game as a must win, and snag a few on the road before we head back to Miami.”
How has having Dwyane Wade back affected the atmosphere of the team as well as your game?
“It’s been great, I mean for me he was a vet and a mentor my rookie year, so him being back has been great. It was a great friendship we built my first year and just getting him back, his presence, his aura even for the whole Miami community has been great. It’s just given us a lot of positivity and confidence in the locker room, his vibes I gotta say, just bringing good energy back to the city of Miami has helped with the team in general.”
Is Josh Richardson actually a good DJ?
“*laughs Yeah, he’s pretty good. He’s taught me some things about DJing. He hasn’t actually had much time as of late with practice and stuff, but he’s DJed for me a couple of times in the plane and in Miami, so he got a little bit of skills behind the table.
Best burger in Miami?
“There’s a restaurant called Fooq’s, they have a good burger, Kush, Local, they have a good burger and oh maybe ShakeShack they have a really good burger.”
Shifting to March Madness, what do you think of Duke’s chance in the tournament?
“I think they have a great chance. They have a young team, and obviously Grayson being the senior and having that leadership, I think it’s a great opportunity for them. In my case, winning a national championship, it was a great accomplishment, but also you get to the NBA it’s about new goals and accomplishing new things, for me I hope these guys can win a national championship and use that as fuel to do great things at the NBA level. That was my goal, using that college championship to fuel me at the NBA level, so hopefully these guys can do the same.”
You obviously had a very unique March Madness experience, winning a national championship. What does the average viewer not see during the tournament, what’s happening behind the scenes?
“There’s a lot of game watching, you know there’s constantly games on TV so, we’re watching games, having a lot of film sessions, but ultimately at the same time we’re still being kids. We’re on social media, we’re still playing video games, still joking around. I think that was a big key for our team, understanding the madness of the moment, but also not letting it become too big, remaining calm, remaining loose. So our team, just joking around, watching the games, having fun, that was pretty much what we were doing behind the scenes.”