Dion Waiters isn’t going to stop wearing his favorite kicks.
The Heat’s starting shooting guard, who missed the final 13 games of the season because of a badly sprained left ankle and opted not to have surgery this summer because it would have kept him off the court eight to 10 months, has worn a pair of low-top Kobe Bryant Nike’s most of his career.
He tried to switch to mid-tops this summer in light of the ankle injury. But it just didn’t feel right. So Waiters said Thursday he is sticking with what he knows – regardless that his ankle continues to bother him six months after the initial injury.
“I’m not changing nothing,” Waiters replied Thursday when asked about his sneaker choice for next season. “I’m not wearing high tops. I [haven't worn] high tops in 10 years. I tried to mix it up this summer. I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t move how I wanted to.
“I try to be quick and get to the basket. I didn’t feel right so I’m not wearing them. Just tape.”
The Heat has always made sure to protect its players regardless of the shoes they wear.
First, head athletic trainer Jay Sabol receives the shoes directly from the shoe company to gauge whether the footwear is appropriate for the player or not. After that, it’s all about ankle braces, good tape jobs and pads.
“My rookie year I tried [high tops] but they didn’t feel right,” Waiters said. “I actually broke my ankles [in high school] in high tops. Once I got to low tops I felt comfortable. I was way better.”
Waiters, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal this summer to remain in Miami, said he will only use tape to protect his ankle this season.
“I’ve never worn an ankle brace,” Waiters said. “I’m a guy that keeps it the same, man. That situation I had last year was unfortunate. It happened when the play was over. So, you can’t predict anything.”
Waiters said he never plays cautious because of the ankle. But he does think about it off the court.
“Sometimes you sit at home, you think about it,” he said. “I cringe [thinking about what happened back in March]. But I feel good. It’s going to be what it is. As long as I’m, like I said, taking care of everything, I’m ready. I’m ready to go.”
That’s the way Spoelstra sees it too. Frankly, he’s tired of talking about Waiters’ ankle.
“He’s good to go. We have no other comments than that,” Spoelstra said Thursday. “He’s doing a lot of treatment. He’s practicing. And he’s feeling much better.”