Heat guard Goran Dragic discusses Friday's Game 6 victory over the Raptors
The shiner under his right eye that he got from Game 1 is finally starting to go away. So, too, is the swelling in his bottom lip from the elbow DeMar DeRozan drove into his mouth in Game 2.
Goran Dragic’s face has taken a beating this season — like many before it — and yet he’s still standing, still ready to pick himself up and run right back onto the court and take the next blow. That’s just who the 6-3, 190-pound Slovenian-born point guard has always been — someone fearless and willing to sacrifice everything for a win.
“You guys think this is bad what’s happened to me this season losing my teeth [twice], but the left side of my face is all —excuse me — [expletive] up,” Dragic said Wednesday before Game 5 in Toronto, not long after he had the eight stitches in his mouth removed.
“Back in [2007, the Rockets’ Vassilis] Spanoulis broke my nose. It was like a 50-50 ball and I dove for the ball and I slipped and he hit me with his knee.
“My nose was like this,” Dragic says as he pushes his nose as far as he can to the left.
Then, Dragic points to a scar on the left the side of his head.
“The next one was in Phoenix when Mo Williams and I bumped heads,” he said. “I had eight stitches inside, 13 outside.”
“The funny thing was when [my wife and I] started dating and it happened to me she was really worried. Now, when it happens she’s like whatever. She doesn’t even react. She’s like — that’s Goran.”
The Heat went into Game 6 on Friday night needing a victory to keep its season alive. Dragic said Friday morning he wouldn’t think twice about losing another tooth or taking another elbow to his chops if it meant avoiding elimination.
As up and down as his first full season in a Heat uniform has been for him personally, he’s always believed this team was talented enough to challenge LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to get out of the Eastern Conference. Mounting injuries, of course, have made things a lot tougher on Miami as the season has progressed.
“You never know what this season would hold if we didn’t have so many injuries like CB and Whitey,” Dragic said of Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. “We could show the full potential of the team if we were healthy. But it is what it is.”
Outside of Dragic, Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, the rest of the Heat roster is not under contract for next season. Dragic, signed to a five-year, $85 million deal through the 2019-2020 season, said he hasn’t started recruiting any of soon-to-be free agent teammates. But he plans to once the season is finally over.
Luol Deng, who he has grown close with, figures to be first on his list. He said he’s planning to invite Deng to dinner at his house and to have “Uncle Lu” hang out with Dragic’s two children. With Miami having only $40 million in salary-cap space, it might take a lot of convincing from Dragic to keep Deng around. But Dragic said he’s hoping the Heat — and some friendly recruiting — can make it work.
“Lu is a great teammate,” Dragic said. “He’s a big factor for this team, and we need him. With his ability to play different positions and both sides of the floor, you cannot find a lot of players that can do that.”
One thing Dragic said no one has to worry about his relationship with his fellow backcourt mate. Earlier this week, there was an ESPN report that there was tension between Dragic and Wade.
Dragic said he and Wade had a good laugh about it.
“The other day when we had breakfast in the hotel, and we sat down and D-Wade looked at me and said, ‘Hey G we got beef?’ I said ‘No. Why?’ Then, I found out somebody had wrote that,” Dragic said. “Everybody knows we’re good. I don’t care what people think outside as long as we know what is going on here — my teammates, the coaching staff, even you guys, the media who see us every day. You guys see how we communicate.
“I mean we’ve never had problems. Everybody knows who is going to get the ball at the end of the game. I never came out and said, ‘No, that’s B.S.’ Sometimes, I would not say we had a problem, but we tried to figure out things — how to play together. This is the way the game goes. Everybody who is new, you need to adjust and you need to learn. Me and D-Wade we talked a lot and now we look much, much better.”