MIAMI – Okaro White nervously approached the scorers’ table late in the first quarter of Miami’s victory over Dallas on Thursday.
The whistle blew and he started walking onto the court for the first time in a regular season NBA game.
Then, his mind went blank.
“I didn’t know who I was going to sub in for,” he said. “Tyler (Johnson) was like, ‘Who you got?’ I said, ‘Tyler, I don’t know, man.’”
White then asked Johnson who had just committed a foul and was told it was Goran Dragic.
“I said, ‘I got Goran.’ GD started walking to the sidelines. I was (thinking), all right, cool.”
White’s debut was unspectacular, yet satisfying. The 6-foot-8 forward from Florida State took one shot in 8:32 of playing time, a three pointer from the right corner, and it hit the rim. He did collect his first NBA rebound and first foul, and committed one turnover.
“I was thinking it was going in,” White said of the shot. “In the preseason the first three threes I took went in. (Rodney McGruder) used to joke with me, ‘every time you come in the game you hit a three.’ So I thought it was good.”
White, who was promoted from Sioux Falls this week when the Heat was granted a 16th roster spot under the league’s hardship rule, was surprised coach Erik Spoelstra kept him on the floor for most of the second quarter.
“Once I got in there and they were shooting free throws I looked at the clock and there were (34) seconds so I immediately thought I came in so Goran doesn’t catch a foul (at the end of the quarter),” he said. “I came to the huddle at the end of the quarter and he didn’t sub me.”
White, 24, is on a 10-day contract that started Tuesday. The Heat can then sign him to a second 10-day contract before they then would have to sign him for the remainder of the season. White, though, could stay with the Heat only if they released another player. Otherwise they would send him back down to Sioux Falls. He then could be signed by any other team.