Gilbert Arenas argues established stars like Kevin Durant aren’t down for Miami Heat culture

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat’s heralded culture has produced a great deal of unquestioned success, but according to Gilbert Arenas, it also can turn off a certain level of star player and discourage him from looking to join the team.

“Heat, y’all can get Dwight Howard, ’cause he tryin’ to get back in the NBA,” Arenas said. “So that type of culture, he’s gonna go for.

“But a star player whose been in — like they’ve seen what it is — you’re not gonna get K.D. (Kevin Durant). You’re not gonna convince K.D. to come there and go through, like, ‘I’m a professional already.’

“You tryin’ to break me not to go to South Beach? That ain’t me.”

Arenas mentioned Howard, who is looking to revive his NBA career after playing overseas and remains in search of a team after being passed on by the Golden State Warriors this offseason. The former All-Star then mentioned Durant, who has bounced from team to team, but never to the Heat, and now finds himself with the Phoenix Suns.

The remarks are interesting because the Heat this offseason failed to significantly add to their roster after falling short in the 2023 NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets.

It was not for lack of trying, however, with Damian Lillard reportedly expressing a great interest in playing for Miami and requesting a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers in an effort to make that happen. However, the Trail Blazers did not accept what the Heat were offering and instead dealt the seven-time All-Star to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a three-team trade that included the Suns.

The Heat culture under Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra has led to three NBA championships and four other trips to the Finals, including last season. It also did not prevent LeBron James, arguably the greatest player of his generation, to choose Miami when he had an opportunity to do so back in 2010, leading to four straight appearances in the Finals.

But former Heat player Andre Iguodala has said he noticed some negative side effects of it during his two seasons with the team. As a counterpoint, Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards lauded the culture while working with Spoelstra as part of Team USA at the 2023 FIBA World Cup this summer.

The coach still believes the Heat will be a legitimate contender for the NBA title this offseason despite not landing Lillard or another big-name star as of yet. That is the benefit of having a proven track record and a way of doing things that has demonstrated success, even if it might not be for everyone.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.