“We’re excited, really excited about Tyler”
Tyler Herro’s personality can be loud. That we know already.
Will his NBA game be just as loud? Half of the fun is in the finding out.
Meantime, let’s appreciate the personality while fans hope the skills back it up. We need it. The down Miami Heat franchise needs it. South Florida sports needs it.
You’d rather have dull excellence in your draft pick over a colorful burst, but the best of both is the ideal: A kid who is brash and isn’t afraid to tell you how good he is before he goes and shows you.
Herro is 19 (barely older than Dwyane Wade’s eldest son). He will be the first athlete — Dolphins, Heat, Marlins or Panthers — born in the 2000s. You can say he hasn’t earned the arrogance if that’s what it is. But that is what makes it all the more refreshing, you see. And, by the way, yes, his surname is pronounced just like “hero.”
He boasted on draft night Thursday that he had “the most drip in the room” — as a million older white folks like myself probably said, “What’d he just say? The most what!?”
The most drip as in street slang for the most swagger. The most drip — as in the floral purple jacket he wore to his entree into the NBA. The most drip — as in the rope of gold chain around his neck, and the fat, blingy watch on his left wrist.
“I thought it was the best suit at the draft. I thought it spoke for itself,” he explained the drip talk with a smile on Friday, during the Heat’s introductory news conference. “It’s like another word for swag I guess.”
Herro was more sedately garbed Friday, in a burgundy suit, just hours after he dressed for the draft like a young man ready for stage and lights. Like a kid who’d had a premonition and so dressed like he knew he was taking his talents to South Beach.
He hoped he was, actually. Herro grew up around Milwaukee. Marquette territory, where Wade starred in college. Herro was a fan, had a jersey. The Heat’s first championship was in 2006, when Herro was 6, and it helped him fall in love with basketball.
“Around that time I think it was me being a fan of the winning team,” he admitted.
Though a bit reserved Friday, Herro can be cocky. No law against it, yet.
”I’m a bucket,” the sharp-shooting Kentucky guard liked to remind college opponents he’d just scored on.
Not everyone loves the pick at 13th overall. Some fans preferred a couple of guys the Heat passed by. Most mock drafts had Herro going a bit lower in the first round.
“Shoutout to everyone doubting me,” reads the pinned tweet on his Twitter page. It’s been there for two years, when he was high-school-turning-college. It’s still there as he turns pro.
Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra hope that in 2017 draft choice Bam Adebayo, 2015 picks Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow and now Herro, the Heat has a youthful core nucleus to move forward with — one that will be a positive as Riley tries, after this money-strapped summer, to sign a premier free agent or two in 2020 or ‘21.
Riley would add Thursday’s second round pick, KZ Okpala, the Stanford forward, to that core nucleus. Riley told me the Heat had Herro and Okpala ninth and 10th on their draft board — and would haved selected Okpala 13th had Herro been off the board.
“We’re not going to give away any more assets unless it’s for top-tier players,” as Riley put it in the first hour of Friday morning, in his post-draft news conference. “I don’t call ‘em whales anymore. I’m after orcas. They’re killer whales.”
Riley and Spoelstra flanked their top pick at Friday’s arena event, held on the very practice court where Herro will hone his skills.
“We need to sell some jerseys right now,” Riley said, holding up one. “Summertime.”
He said Herro “checks every single box,” and introduced Spoelstra as “the guy that’s going to make him an all-star.”
Said Spoelstra: “His skill set is something that jumped out of the gym.”
So does the confidence.
“I can handle the ball, come off pick and rolls,” he said. “The shooting — I’m going to bring that every day.”
The Heat and South Florida sports in general are in search of a spark, a splash.
Maybe it just arrived in the guy with “the most drip in the room.”