ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Whenever I want the inside stuff, at least when it pertains to the Miami Heat, I know exactly who to call: Genesis Rodriguez. You may know her as an actress from movies such as Casa De Mi Padre, Man On A Ledge or Identity Thief. But I know her as maybe the most dedicated Miami Heat fan that I know. In a way, it’s in her DNA, as a Miami native who was raised attending every Heat game. And these days, even though she lives and works in Hollywood, she still catches every Heat game on League Pass.
Tonight during the Heat/Thunder game, Genesis is back home in Miami to take over the Heat’s Instagram account. She prepped for the occasion by attending Heat practice yesterday, as you can see in the video above.
I rang her up last week to get her thoughts on the current state of the Heat.
ME: Let’s just establish one thing early on: You are not a recent Heat fan, right?
GENESIS: Absolutely not. You know, Lang, but the world, I guess, may not. I’ve been going to Heat games ever since I can remember, in their first arena. I believe it was a light pink arena, very “Miami Vice” style. This was back in the Rony Seikaly days. After that, I grew up in the Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning days, and it was my whole life. And we were always the underdog. That was an exciting time with the Heat because we had great rivals, the ultimate rivals in the Knicks, with Patrick Ewing. We had very good opponents. When I remember that time, it just makes me nostalgic and happy, because I think it has shaped me into the person I am. And then 2006 happened and everything has been different. I also think the Heat is just a wonderful organization — what they do for the community and how they involve fans. Like, when you go to a game and there’s two minutes left in the quarter, they don’t announce, “Two minutes!” They say “Dos…Minutos!” Because we’re a Latin community and there are a lot of Latinos watching and involved. And they have LeBron James. Why wouldn’t you want to be a fan of the most dominant player in the NBA? It’s history in the making. By the way, can I ask you a question? How the hell is he more efficient this year than last year? He’s insane.
ME: Well, it’s obvious that he’s getting better and more complete every year. And I’m sure you remember, that’s the one thing people used to criticize him for — that he wasn’t improving, that he wasn’t adding wrinkles to his game in the offseason.
GENESIS: Oh I remember those days, Lang. (laughs)
ME: But you look at his game and think, How can he get better? But to me he’s gotten better by being more selective and just getting more comfortable within what the Heat are doing. But wait: When you were talking about the fans and winning the title in 2006, it made me think that the Heat have won three titles since 2006. As a fan of the team, how does that change your expectations? Does it make you complacent? Do you feel like if they don’t win a title each season it’s a disappointment?
GENESIS: I mean, I want a championship and I want them to make it three titles in a row. That would be a beautiful thing and I wonder if then all the haters would shut up? Would that do it for everybody? But I don’t know…I always want a championship. I always want my team to win. The greatest day of my life is always the day when we get the rings — the celebrations, the parade, everybody with pots and pans on Calle Ocho. That’s my city. That makes my home so happy, so I would love that.
ME: I know you watch almost every Heat game, depending on your schedule, but how do you think the Heat are looking so far this season.
GENESIS: Well, we had a couple of tough games a few weeks back against Brooklyn, New York and Washington. Clearly it was a defensive lapse. What the hell happened to our defense? I don’t know. But before those three games, I was seeing a kind of rhythm. And because we have two championships right now, everybody else is bringing one hundred percent every time they play the Heat. And you can tell, you can seriously tell. You’ll see teams lose to the Bobcats one day and then almost beat the Heat, because they’re playing with every ounce of everything they have to beat the champs. And I get that, I get that. But why would the Heat get so pumped now? It’s not smart. Why should they try to win every game now, when what matters is the playoffs? So many people are getting hurt left and right, and they’re playing every game like it’s the last game, and I understand you want to win every night. But it’s the playoffs that matter, right?
ME: Yeah, but the regular season matters at least to some extent as far as, for instance, getting home court in the playoffs.
GENESIS: Of course, but you want home court only if you’re worried about it. If you’re worried about where you stand, that you really need home court, then that’s a whole different thing.
ME: Do you think the Heat are worried about home court against Indiana?
GENESIS: Um…clearly not (laughs). Because I believe when they really want something, they will get it. And this season it doesn’t seem like it’s really a priority for them. I feel like it’s smart of Indiana to fight hard for home court advantage, because they need it, you know? They’re a young team and they haven’t been to the Finals. So they need every advantage they can get.
ME: You know, the other thing with the Heat, and you kind of mentioned this, is they’re trying to manage their health as much as they can so they get to the playoffs as healthy as possible. So they might not always play with the same intensity or focus from night to night. And you always hear coaches and analysts say that teams can’t just “turn it on” whenever they want. But I kind of get the sense that the Heat can do that. They seem like they have a different level they can play at and they actually know how to get to that level, when most teams don’t know how to do that.
GENESIS: I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been so surprised in games where they play one way up until the last couple minutes, and then they’re totally different. And you’re like, Where did they get this? Why didn’t they play like this the entire time? Why are they stressing me out until the last minute? But when they want to play like that, they do. But I feel like this season, Chris Bosh has been playing really well, especially defensively. That makes me happy, because I criticized him a lot like now. But I’m really happy with him right now. We’re cool, we’re cool. (laughs)
ME: Who do you think needs to step it up right now?
GENESIS: I don’t have any major complaints. I’m really happy with Michael Beasley and what he’s doing. As long as he works on the defensive end, and can get to the Heat level, he’s a good fit, I think. Oh, and I forgot to ask you, did you see President Obama’s diss to Mario Chalmers?
ME: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that.
GENESIS: I laughed so much, because I always pick on Mario. I always scream at him, too. But he’s a good sport about that, isn’t he?
ME: I think so. He seems to be pretty levelheaded about that stuff.
GENESIS: Yeah, he can take it. The reason he gets screamed at is because he’s that good, and they know he can do what they need for him to do.
ME: Right, they have high expectations. Speaking of: As a Heat fan, what would you think about the Heat making a run at Andrew Bynum?
GENESIS: I wouldn’t be opposed to it. That is, if Bynum really wanted to play. You can’t go the Heat and coast. What we need Bynum for is for him to actually be a defense player. I don’t think it would hurt the Heat. But I would need a true demonstration of how badly he wants it before I let him on the Heat.
ME: Well, there’s also the question of can a guy who comes to a team with a lot of strong personalities, can those guys sort of keep him in line? And I think for the Heat, why not take a chance on Bynum? I think it could do more good than harm.
GENESIS: I agree. The Heat is sort of like a brotherhood, and you can tell they’re brothers and have each other’s backs. Maybe that’s the kind of thing he’s always been looking for and wanting? You never know.
ME: So we’ll check in with you again as the season goes along, but as of right now, a few weeks before the All-Star break, what kind of chances do you give the Heat of repeating again this season? Do you feel totally confident? Relatively confident? A little nervous?
GENESIS: I’m confident. If there’s one thing about this team, it’s that you have faith in them. They might stress you out a little bit, but boy do they make you happy. So I always have faith. They just have that way about themselves. I’m not worried. I feel like everyone else is, but the way that they’re playing now, that’s fine, that’s fine. We’ll win some, lose some, and after the All-Star Break, let’s see what happens.