Miami Heat

‘I couldn’t put her down’ Heat’s Dion Waiters says of newborn after rejoining team

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters leaps past Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler in the first quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida, October 30, 2017.
Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters leaps past Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler in the first quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida, October 30, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Dion Waiters was back in a Miami Heat uniform Wednesday morning at Talking Stick Arena, both a bit sleepy and excited, after leaving the team during the weekend to attend the birth of his first daughter, Dior Raina Waiters, back home in Miami.

“Just another special moment in my life — I crossed that off the bucket list,” said Waiters, who also has a young son with his fiancé Brandi. “It’s just a great feeling man bringing another human being into this world – and she’s a girl. So, you know, if everybody thought I was overprotective of my son, man, it’s a different type of love with a girl. It’s just a great feeling.”

After missing what could have been the game-winning shot in a 95-94 loss at Denver on Friday night, the Heat’s starting shooting guard returned home Saturday and missed the Heat’s thrilling 104-101 victory at the Clippers on Sunday and Monday night’s 97-80 loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

But it was all worth it.

Waiters, 25, spent nearly 72 hours at home (he joined the team Tuesday night in Phoenix) and got to bond with his growing family. Another bonus: he also was able to give his troublesome left ankle some rest.

“It’s instant,” Waiters said of the connection between father and daughter. “It’s that love. It’s crazy. I couldn’t put her down. I miss her so much right now. I miss my son, too. He would get mad if I didn’t say that. It’s just one of those things that instantly you’re attached to another human being.”

Counting Wednesday’s game, the Heat (4-6) still has three games left on this six-game road trip and won’t head back home until after Sunday afternoon’s game in Detroit. Waiters said leaving his family behind is hard, but he’s glad he was able to be home “for the most important part — being there while she was born.”

“I know she probably misses my voice,” Waiters said. “I talk to her every five minutes [on FaceTime]. I’ve got to see her face. As long as I see her face [I’m fine]. She’s beautiful man.”

Between cutting his daughter’s umbilical cord and watching the Heat and his hometown Philadelphia Eagles both win, Waiters said he had a “helluva day” on Sunday.

“I was 3 for 3 that day,” Waiters said with a smile.

How did he and Brandi settle on the name Dior?

“Just Dion. ... Dior. It’s a nice name,” Waiters said. “All my kids’ names are going to start with a D, however we’re going to put it. [Brandi] didn’t argue with me much. She got to pick the name this time. I got to pick my son’s name. That’s my boy. So I let her pick [Dior’s] first name. As long as that name has Waiters at the end, that’s all that matters to me.”

HEAT STILL NOT GETTING CALLS

Goran Dragic has been one of the NBA’s most aggressive point guards in the league for several seasons now. If you have any suggestions as to how he can get officials to call more fouls on his opponents when he drives to the basket he’s willing to listen.

For that matter, so are the Heat. Miami entered Wednesday’s game against the Suns No. 2 in the NBA with 56.3 drives toward the basket and yet ranked dead last with only 4.1 percent of those drives ending in a foul call. Last year it was the same story with the Heat averaging 35.1 drives and an NBA-worst 10.7 percent of those ending with trips to the line.

“There’s no way to explain it other than we just have to continue being aggressive playing our game,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Executing with a purpose every single possession, getting our turnovers to a more manageable level will help that. But in terms of whether the officials are calling it or not, we can’t control that. We have very aggressive drivers. We have guys that don’t flop, that don’t use savvy tricks to draw fouls. Our guys are head down, shoulders into you kind of drivers. But we don’t need the officials to help us offensively. When we’re executing with intent and keeping our turnovers down, our offense has shown to be very good.”

Waiters ranks sixth in the league in drives to the basket, but is getting to the line only 5.2 percent of the time. Dragic ranks ninth with 15.8 drives to the basket, but is getting to the line only 3.2 percent of the time.

“I don’t have [an] answer because for the past nine years I was one of the top guards in driving and the least amount of fouls I get,” Dragic said. “So I don’t know what to say... sooner or later we’re going to get some calls. We just have to stay on that course.”

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