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Ball Don't Lie

Ronny Turiaf reminds us that this is all just fun, that he is great

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

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Ronny Turiaf cheers. Of course he does. (Getty Images)

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Barring injury, Ronny Turiaf probably won't play a lot in the NBA Finals.

He's seen 118 total minutes of action in 11 appearances off the bench for the Miami Heat this postseason, with the lion's share of it coming in a second-round win over the Indiana Pacers in which Erik Spoelstra needed big bodies to match up with a strong, gifted Indy frontline headed by Roy Hibbert and David West, especially after starting center and All-Star Chris Bosh went down with an abdominal injury in Game 1. Since Bosh came back late in the Heat's Eastern Conference finals win over the Boston Celtics, though, Turiaf's mostly stayed sidelined. With Miami favoring a starter-heavy lineup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony all ahead of him on the depth chart, it seems likely that Turiaf's biggest contribution will be cheering his teammates from the sideline.

While he'd certainly rather be playing, that's still pretty OK by Turiaf, for two reasons. For one thing, he's really good at that. (Like, really good at it.)

Mostly, though, as he told "Zorgon" from Thunder blog Welcome to Loud City, it's because he never forgets that he nearly missed out on the chance to do even that much:

[...] You're known as one of the league's most energetic bench players. You sit on your bench and really cheer for your team. Are you normally that excited, or do you just do it to kinda support your team?

RT: Uh, I'm always excited. I'm either excited or not excited. So whenever I play ... I escaped death one time. And basketball was almost taken away from me, so to be able to live my life and be able to play basketball is definitely fun. I enjoy my time out there, and sometimes I can't control myself.

In case you don't remember how Turiaf's NBA career started, the Los Angeles Lakers selected him out of Gonzaga in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft and signed him to a two-year rookie contract. But one month after the draft, a routine physical revealed a heart problem — a portion of his aorta was enlarged — that required open-heart surgery, resulting in the Lakers voiding Turiaf's contract and briefly casting his professional future in doubt. Thankfully, he recovered quickly, was pronounced fit to play, and made his debut with L.A. in January 2006.

Since then, he has carved out a seven-year career as an energetic reserve defender, rebounder and shot-blocker with the Lakers, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Washington Wizards and, now, Miami. It's not a bad life, and he knows it. He appreciates it. And so, he celebrates it. He has fun, which is why he's one of the league's more uniformly beloved figures, a brilliant bit of Cheshire Cat-smiling curiosity that makes it worth your while to keep one eye on the bench when LeBron James or Dwyane Wade get out on the break.

As we wade through off-day and afternoon-of stories about who needs to be more aggressive, who's coming up small in the big moments and who needs to Step Up Their Game to avoid eternal shame, let's instead take a moment to consider Turiaf's comments. Let's view his uncontrollable excitement at getting to do something he loves as an example worth emulating, and remember that all of this is ostensibly delicious, delicious candy we get to greedily gobble.

Let's remind ourselves to have more fun than should be allowed by law over the next two weeks. It seems like way more fun than all that yelling, doesn't it?

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