When the Miami Heat announced they were bringing back Mario Chalmers, the fan reaction was of unbridled excitement. The two-time NBA champion, who helped the Heat win the title in 2012 and 2013, was equally pumped for his prodigal return
Chalmers signed a 10-day contract under the league’s hardship rules when the Heat’s roster was heavily depleted due to either COVID-19 or injuries. Despite not clocking any minutes on the court before his contract expired on January 9, the 35-year-old guard was nothing but grateful while saying his goodbye.
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Chalmers captioned a picture of him exiting the locker room hallway, “It’s the little things that you appreciate more the 2nd time around… Thank you.”
The NBA veteran was held out of his first three games with the Heat due to the coach’s decision, and then he was ruled ineligible to play after Duncan Robinson and Max Strus were cleared from protocols.
Chalmers knew from the get-go that his second chance in Miami was only temporary, but hoped this opportunity would open another door for him to return to the NBA full time.
“I really don’t know what to expect,” Chalmers told The Undefeated. “I hope I get another 10-day contract. I hope I get to sign for the rest of the year. The biggest thing is to keep playing. Expectations? I really don’t have none. Let’s see what happens.
“I just appreciate them giving me the opportunity to come back and getting the love from the fans. Even though I haven’t gotten a home game, I still have got a lot of love from Heat fans saying, ‘Welcome back.’”
Chalmers Said the Heat’s Call Came at the ‘Perfect Time’
Before rejoining the Heat, the former second-round pick from the 2008 NBA Draft, hadn’t played in an official NBA game since the 2017-2018 season, where he averaged 7.7 points in 66 appearances while playing with the Memphis Grizzlies.
While Chalmers remained unsigned during the 2016-2017 season, the Grizzlies eventually resigned him in July 2017. Over the next three years, Chalmers then bounced Europe, playing in Italy and Greece, before signing with Índios de Mayagüez in Puerto Rico in September 2021.
Itching to return to the NBA, and seeing how many franchises would be in desperate need of players due to yet another resurgence of COVID-19, Chalmers stayed in shape and signed with the Denver Nuggets G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold on December 18.
While in Vance County, North Carolina to attend his aunt’s funeral, his father, Ronnie, who’s Chalmers agent, received a call from the Heat.
“The call came at a time where the family finally needed something to uplift them,” Chalmers said. “It was perfect timing. My aunt meant a lot to me. She had a smile that lit up a room. That was my dad’s sister. They were really close. I was close to her. He took it hard, so it was good for him to get this call and see his son get a chance to get back to the NBA.”
Spoelstra & Chalmers Always Remained in Contact
Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra and Heat president Pat Riley make a point to remain on good terms with their former players, and Chalmers was no exception.
“He is a major part of the banners that are up there,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of the titles won during the Big 3 era. “We were together from the beginning of his career. A lot of development was spent with Rio in the summer, working with our staff, preparing himself to be one of the mainstays of those championship years. I really enjoyed seeing his growth and progress as a professional and as a human being.”
Spoelstra said after re-signing Chalmers on December 31, 2021, “I don’t know where this is going to go. We all have to keep an open mind to this. This is like nothing else we’ve been a part of before. But if you have an opportunity to do something like this, even for a short period of time, I think it’s worth it and I’m grateful for the relationship.”