For a man who has spent a lot of time vomiting over the last 48 hours because he ate some bad spaghetti, Heat guard Dion Waiters still had enough energy Tuesday afternoon to respond to critics who blame his early season struggles to the belief he’s gained some weight.
The ruckus started a couple of weeks ago when the Heat took a team photo the day before beating the Brooklyn Nets in Mexico City. Waiters, 26, said the camera caught him at a bad angle. The team photo, however, has been making the rounds on social media with some taking shots at Waiters. Last Friday, Waiters’ weight was the lead topic during the local radio hour of ESPN’s Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on 790 The Ticket.
Waiters said he saw the photo – and heard the criticism – and addressed it all on Tuesday when approached about it.
“I think Pat Riley would have said something to me by now,” Waiters answered when asked if he’s gained weight. “I had two layers [on when we took the team photo]. I had this [Heat team t-shirt] on with a warmup and a t-shirt underneath. I’ve got 6 percent body fat. I’m 219 [pounds]. Last year I was 225, 223, playing the way I was playing. I’m lighter [now].
“You know, if I was [fatter] there would be a bunch of red flags everywhere, right? I ain’t got to post no pictures on Instagram to prove it to nobody. I’m in the best shape of my life. [The critics] don’t say [anything] when I’m dunking on mother [expletives] and things like that, right?”
When Waiters first signed with the Heat in the summer of 2016, he and Riley talked a lot about his weight and about getting him in optimal playing shape. Waiters said he dropped his weight from 234 pounds to 222 and his body fat from 10 percent to 7.5 percent heading into his first season in Miami. He insists he’s remained in great shape and committed to staying in great shape – even after after signing a four-year, $52 million deal to remain with the Heat this summer.
On Monday, Waiters fought through a bad case of food poisoning and played 36 minutes in a 110-104 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He said he was so sick to his stomach in Monday’s 23-point effort (on 9-of-17 shooting) he actually went back to the locker room after the first quarter to vomit. That was after he said he threw up eight times after going out to dinner on Sunday night.
“I’m still [being] cautious eating,” Waiters said Tuesday. “I just tried to eat fruit right now to see if I could keep that down. I’ve been trying to stay hydrated, but you know, when you throw up you get that nauseous feeling when you eat. That [expletive] sucks man. But I’m feeling like better, a little bit.”
So far this season, Waiters has only missed two games – and both were because he returned home to South Florida in the middle of a Heat road trip to be there for the birth of his daughter. He’s consistently played high-minute games even after ending last season with a bad sprain to his left ankle which carried over into the summer and affected him during the preseason. So far, Waiters is averaging 31.1 minutes per game, third-most on the team behind Josh Richardson (32.9) and Goran Dragic (31.4).
Where Waiters has struggled, though, and been criticized, has been for the way he’s been shooting the basketball. He’s shooting at a 39.8 percent clip from the field (ninth-worst among guards averaging at least 10 shots per game) and 31.1 percent from three-point range (he shot 39.5 percent from three last year).
He leads the Heat with 14.2 field goal attempts per game and is averaging 14.8 points per game for the season, down from 15.8 last season and the 17.8 per game he averaged as a starter over his final 27 games when the Heat turned its season around from 11-30 to 30-11 over the second half.
“You put the work in, trust your shot it’s got to turn some how, some way,” Waiters said Tuesday. “Even with me, I’m probably not shooting the best right now. It was the same thing as last year for me. I didn’t start off that good shooting the ball and then look at what happened.
“Then I started shooting 43 percent from three. You know me, I’m never going to lose that confidence. I don’t care what’s going on. Like I said, things are different this year. I’m trying to really figure it out or ease my way into it and just also play the right game. In the past, I didn’t make the right play, things like that. You’ve got so many dynamic guys on this team that can do so many different things, but also do similar things too. So, you know, if you put the work in, trust your work, keep believing in yourself, things got to change.”
His weight, Waiters insists, though, has nothing to do with his early season struggles.
“This is the lightest I’ve been,” Waiters said. “I feel great. That picture, sometimes the camera can play tricks with you. That’s why everyday I don’t step on that scale. You’re not supposed to. One day it might say 219. The next it might say 222. In all honesty, right before we hit the road to go on this little trip, I weighed myself. I was 219, six percent body fat.”