Dion Waiters celebrated his 26th birthday in Memphis on Sunday with nerve pain in his right elbow and a broken heart after the Philadelphia Eagles, his favorite NFL team, lost quarterback Carson Wentz to a season-ending torn ACL injury.
“That’s probably one of the happiest, saddest wins I’ve ever had. Ever,” the Philadelphia native said of seeing the Eagles rally to beat the Rams, but lose Wentz in the process. “I was in a good space up until about 6:30, 6:45, everything just … I had a very emotional day, man, the highs, the lows.”
Waiters’ fandom aside, the Heat’s starting shooting guard is also experiencing a bit of a low with his own health.
After hyperextending his right elbow in last Wednesday’s loss at San Antonio setting a hard screen, and then shooting 1 for 10 with two points in Saturday’s win over the Nets in Mexico City, Waiters said at shootaround Monday his arm is “still messed up.”
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He wore an arm sleeve in the first half versus the Nets, but then took it off in the second half because it was bothering him. He said he’s practicing with it to get acclimated to it. But it doesn’t feel comfortable.
“I’m going to see if I’m going to wear the sleeve or try to get taped, something, figure it out, man,” Waiters said. “Because it’s like a tendon. I can’t really bend my arm. First, I just got to practice with it. If I can practice with it and just keep wearing it all day, every day and get used to it until the pain goes away, then that’s what I’m going to have to do. But I already told myself, I went out there and missed the first couple of shots, I said, ‘Oh.’ I actually made a layup.”
Waiters said he “can’t really [extend]” his arm the way he wants to.
“It’s a nerve, so it’s annoying. I ain’t making no excuses.”
Waiters has had an up-and-down run shooting the ball even before he tweaked his elbow. Before he went 8 of 12 from the field and scored 22 points against the Spurs in Wednesday’s loss, he was 1 for 10 in a loss to the Warriors Dec. 3, 3 for 10 at the Knicks on Nov. 29, 2 for 10 at the Bulls on Nov. 26 and 0 for 10 against the Pacers on Nov. 19. All of those performances were sandwiched between much better shooting nights.
“The Brooklyn game a lot of those shots were in his wheelhouse,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “My challenge to him is how else can you affect the game. Can he dominate on the other end of the court and come down with 11, 12 rebounds, six deflections and a bunch of timely, multiple efforts on defense. There’s a lot of ways to impact winning and he’s starting to learn a lot of different facets.”