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The Genius And The Dragon

Goran “The Dragon“ Dragic is an all star guard who began his career in Phoenix and eventually found his way to the Miami Heat six seasons ago. When Dragic came to the Heat, they were rebuilding after four straight trips to the NBA finals with their “big three” of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

Photo by Marc Serota

In the 2020 season, the Miami Heat have just upset and nearly swept the number one team in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks. They are en route to their first Eastern Conference Finals trip in six years (albeit in a pandemic shortened season) and have done an incredible job rebuilding in a relatively short period of time using the NBA draft and some very shrewd free-agency pick ups like Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and The Dragon. 

Pat Riley, the architect and coach of the 4-time NBA champs, the Los Angeles Lakers, is considered a salary cap genius and an amazing talent scout. Riley has rebuilt a team that lost three Hall of Fame players, and won two out of four NBA trips to the finals, into a contender in just six seasons with cunning, great scouting and decades of experience. Part of the current rebuild through the draft was finding starting center and All-Star (1st Round Draft Pick – 14th Overall) Bam Adebayo, along with four talented rookies who were not highly touted going into the NBA draft. Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Derrick Jones Jr. and Duncan Robinson have become integral parts of the Miami Heat’s game plan and all have contributed greatly towards getting them to the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals.

Photo by Marc Serota

Dragic, who made it to the Final Four of the Euroleague with fellow Slovenian superstar Luca Dokic, is 34 years old and having an absolute resurgence with the Miami Heat. The Dragon has been averaging over 21 points and 5 assists per game in the Miami Heat’s 8 and 1 record so far in the 2020 playoffs. 

Pat Riley who is well known for finding gems in a pile of castoffs, has put a lot on Dragic, but Goran hasn’t blinked. He is playing at an All-Star level and will be an important part to the Heat’s success should they get to the NBA finals. Riley said of the 86 Million-Dollar contract signed by Dragic: “Just excited the last couple of minutes to put pen to paper and have The Dragon here for a while.”

The other two brilliant free agency pick-ups were Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler. Butler is a no brainer for any team, but Jay Crowder has bounced around from team to team. But, he seems to be a perfect fit in Miami, just like quite a few other big men that Pat Riley has found during past off-season’s, starting back with players like Ike Austin, Brian Grant, Hassan Whiteside, and Alonzo Mourning. And don’t forget, Riley has also landed several big-time free agents in the past such as LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Bosh, Gary Payton, and Ray Allen. Impressive!

Dragic and the latest Pat Riley incarnation of the Miami Heat await their next opponent, either the Boston Celtics or last year‘s NBA Champion the Toronto Raptors. They are built deep with key bench players like Kelly Olynyk and Andre Iguodala and they might just might find themselves in the NBA Finals.

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About The Author
Marc Serota
Marc Serota
As a Portrait photographer Marc Serota has lensed iconic athletes and celebrities for CORBIS and GETTY as well as major brands such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN, the NBA, NHL and the NFL. Serota is a renowned award winning photographer having logged 25+ years with news agencies such as REUTERS, Getty Images, The Associated Press and UPI shooting the biggest entertainment, news and sports stories from the early 1990’s to the present. Marc has covered numerous Super Bowls, Olympic games, NHL Stanley Cup’s, NASCAR races, ATP and PGA events. Visit Marc's website: marcserota.com. Follow Marc Serota @G_O_A_T_shooter on Twitter and @marcserota on Instagram.
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