Dion Waiters is aware of social-media criticism regarding his weight, and he has a response: ‘I’m in the best shape of my life’

Miami Heat’s Dion Waiters (11) drives as Charlotte Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, in Miami. The Heat won 105-100. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

BOSTON — Don’t call Dion Waiters fat.

Why? Well, because he’s not.

The Heat’s team photo in Mexico City on Dec. 8 left Waiters looking overweight, and social media ran with it. Waiters heard all of the jokes and all of the criticism about his body, and he has an explanation for his appearance in that picture.

Dion Waiters in the Heat’s team photo in Mexico City.

“You know they’re going off that picture that I took in Mexico where I had two layers,” Waiters said after Tuesday’s practice. “I had this on with a warmup and a t-shirt underneath.”

Waiters insists he’s in the best shape of his life at 219 pounds and 6 percent body fat. When the guard originally signed with the Heat in July 2016, he stood at 234 pounds and 10 percent body fat.

This weight loss process began last year, as Waiters posted a shirtless before-and-after picture on social media shortly after the 2016-17 season came to an end. The post included a photo of a heavier Waiters when he signed with the Heat in the 2016 offseason alongside a photo of a trimmed down Waiters at the end of last season.

“I think Pat Riley would have said something to me by now,” Waiters said when asked if he’s gained weight since last season. “… Where’s the strength and conditioning coach? I’ve got 6 percent body fat. I’m 219. Last year I was 225, 223, playing the way I was playing. I’m lighter. You know if I was [fatter] there would be a bunch of red flags everywhere right? I ain’t got to post no pictures on Instagram to prove it to nobody. I’m in the best shape of my life.”

And Waiters, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract in July to stay in Miami, kept defending himself.

On the left is a photo of Dion Waiters when he was signed with the Heat this past offseason. On the right is a photo of Waiters at the end of the 2016-17 season. (Photo from Dion Waiters’ Instagram)

“I heard it,” he said of the recent social media rumblings regarding his weight. “But when you let them see that, it just tells them they’re winning. I don’t need to prove nothing to them. It would have come from the higher ups. Pat Riley, he would have been addressing it. Man, I’m 6 percent body fat, 219 [pounds]. The lightest I’ve been. Man, I feel great. That picture, sometimes the camera can play tricks with you.”

Waiters actually might have lost even more weight over the last few days, as he’s been dealing with a stomach issue he believes came from a Sunday spaghetti dinner in an Atlanta restaurant. He played through the illness in Monday’s loss to the Hawks — even going back to the Heat locker room to throw up at the end of the first quarter — and finished with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

“I felt like I was dying, man,” Waiters said. “I think it was food poisoning. That’s my favorite food, too. I don’t know. Either I ate too much or I don’t know.”

“I threw up like eight times and I didn’t even eat anything the whole day leading up to the game. I couldn’t get up. I just felt so woozy. Man, dog, I ain’t feel like that in a long time.”

Although Waiters doesn’t feel 100 percent yet, he expects to push through the discomfort again Wednesday against the Celtics with backcourt partner Goran Dragic’s status in doubt due to a sore left elbow.

“I have to, especially if Goran is not going to play,” Waiters said. “We’ve got to just keep this thing going.

[Tough stretch of games is almost over, favorable part of the schedule is near. Will Heat be healthy enough to take advantage?]

[The Heat are asking a lot from Josh Richardson, and he’s been delivering lately]

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