Shabazz Napier won two NCAA titles to bookend his four-year career at Connecticut. Then, LeBron James made public his desire to have Napier in Miami. This was the summer of 2014, when James was all set to be a free agent. Most thought James would re-sign in Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The threesome had just gotten done reaching the Finals in four-consecutive seasons, something no team had done since the Larry Bird-era Celtics in the 1980s. So, the Heat acquired Napier on draft night in a trade with the Charlotte Hornets.
Then James made his second — capital letter — Decision, and was taking his talents back to Ohio. That left Napier on a team who only appeared to trade for him in order to appease a superstar. A superstar who was no longer in town. This must have been uncomfortable.
During his rookie season, Napier played sparingly — 19.8 minutes per game — and shot poorly inside of the three-point arc (40 percent on two-pointers and a decent 36.4 percent from three). The Heat failed to make the playoffs, and in July, they traded the two-time NCAA Champion to the Magic for a conditional second rounder next June and some cash. That’s a big blow to the ego.
But Bazz got some retribution in last night’s preseason contest between the Magic and Heat. Napier first subbed in for Elfrid Payton with 3:38 left in the game. But he made the most of his brief opportunity at the end of the game, finishing 2-of-3 from the floor, including a pretty big three-pointer with three seconds left and the score knotted at 97.