The Miami Heat head into Indianapolis for their 28th game of the season against the Indiana Pacers. It’s the first of three matchups for the franchises this season, and it’s also Heat guard Victor Oladipo’s first run at Gainbridge Fieldhouse since being traded from the Pacers in 2021.
The 10-year veteran had a breakthrough in Indiana when he joined in 2017, where he earned All-NBA and All-Defensive Team honors and the Most Improved Player Award.
Victor Oladipo back in Indy pic.twitter.com/F4v9CX5A0M— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) December 12, 2022
Injuries stopped that momentum and put a pause on Oladipo achieving a higher level of stardom, but Oladipo remains hopeful of returning to his All-Star form.
“The way you build your character and who you are as a person is how you handle those moments. And I’ve always been an optimist,” Oladipo said. “Even though what happened to me was catastrophic, it doesn’t mean that I can’t still be happy, and I can’t still come back from it and be my best self.”
Oladipo hasn’t returned to the production he would have hoped for. When he was traded from Indiana to the Houston Rockets, he played a total of 20 games before being shipped again in March of 2021 to the Heat, where thus far, in three seasons, he’s only played 16 games.
Oladipo averaged 20.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.9 steals in his four years as the Pacers superstar. He became a fan favorite in Indiana during his first year with the team as he led them to the fifth seed of the East while going toe-to-toe in a seven-game playoff series with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
🔊 Sound up! Welcome back, @VicOladipo 👏 pic.twitter.com/95yPHz2A3G— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 7, 2022
Oladipo’s run with the Pacers was a glimpse of true blossom and an emphasis on why he was selected second overall in his draft. Nothing can take away his moment Monday night, and Oladipo hopes the air in the building refreshes his game as the elite two-way player he once was.
“It definitely brings some nostalgia, you know, just walking into the building,” Oladipo said. “But I’m focused on the good energy. And I let the bad energy go a long time ago, in terms of my injury and everything.”