When remembering the 2012 and 2013 Heat championship basketball squad, The name Mario Chalmers is hardly mentioned and given credit for the contribution he made to Miami’s title runs.
When Pat Riley selected Chalmers in Round 2, Pick 34 of the 2008 NBA Draft, he knew exactly what he had to offer. Rio recorded 12.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on 46.8% three-point shooting and 51.6% from the field. He is greatly remembered for his game-saving 3-point shot in the 2008 NCAA Championship to force overtime for his Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas would end up winning the title.
Chalmers worked his way up in Miami’s rotation, eventually becoming the starting point guard during the infamous big-three era. Although Wade, James, and Bosh continue to get the well-known praise they deserve, many forget about the 4th best player on the team, Mario Chalmers.
To be frankly honest, LeBron James could have possibly still have been searching for his first NBA championship if it weren’t for Chalmers clutching up in Game 4 of the 2012 Finals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In an opportunity to increase the series lead to 3-1 or have it evened at 2 a-piece, Chalmers finished with 25 points on 9/15 shooting. With LeBron James on the bench, Rio hit a game-winning layup to increase the Heat lead to 101-96 with 44.6 seconds remaining and go on to capture the contested fourth-quarter battle.
Game 2 of the 2013 Finals is another example, leading the Heat with a team-high 19 points to even up the series at 1-1 in a 103-84 victory.
You can trash on Rio for the mistakes he made or for getting yelled at in timeouts from LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, but you could never disregard his value to the Heat’s success. From defending Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook in a 7 game Finals series, to not backing away from a big shot, Chalmers was greatly under-appreciated during the big-three era.
Was he a top 10 point guard? No. Nonetheless, Chalmers played his role as a knockdown 3-point shooter and solid defender. He complemented LeBron and Wade and respected them to be Miami’s primary ball-handler.
“That kid is not afraid of any moment,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You can’t teach that.” When it’s all said and done for Rio’s career, whether he makes a return to the NBA or continues to play overseas, he should always be remembered as a winner.