Armed with confidence, Heat’s Alondes Williams proving to be a Man-Man for all seasons

MIAMI – As far as nicknames, it is not necessarily unique, instead an affectionate term used in the Midwest for spirited children with an abundance of energy.

That is how Miami Heat guard Alondes Williams came to be known as Man-Man.

And in case there is any doubt about the nickname sticking, it can be found on the back of each arm, each with the lettering of “M-A-N.”

“It was just a thing my mom just always called me when I was growing up,” said Williams, a native of Milwaukee. “It’s a Midwest thing. I’d always just been an active kid and jumping around all the time, so a lot of people have been called that in the Midwest.”

The energy remains in place, as evidenced by Williams’ franchise-record 55-point game this season with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, as well as a 45-point game two weeks ago for Sioux Falls.

On a two-way contract, Williams will be ineligible for the postseason with the Heat, but is expected to return to Sioux Falls for the G League playoffs, where the Skyforce are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and open their postseason play Friday.

In Sioux Falls, the mandate largely is to shoot on demand, as a go-to scorer for Skyforce coach Kasib Powell, the former Heat forward.

“Somebody with his speed and explosiveness, somebody who can put pressure on the rim, for Sioux Falls and Kasib, that’s an important thing,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, with his team facing the New York Knicks on Tuesday night at Kaseya Center. “At times we really did need his scoring (in Sioux Falls). And that is a great quality to have, to be able to put the ball in the basket.

“You don’t want to underestimate that. And he’s checking off the important boxes for us. And if he’s also having to score and that leads to winning, I think that’s a good thing.”

With the Heat, the path to an enduring run is more about fit, in Williams’ case as a two-way player.

That, Spoelstra said, remains a work in progress.

“I don’t want to put a ceiling or a cap on a player,” Spoelstra said. “That’s not the role we’ve designed for him here. It’s really to be a two-way, impactful defender, but also a playmaker, somebody who can create for others.”

For now, that balancing act continues, as the 6-foot-4 guard shuttles between Miami and Sioux Falls, appreciative of the opportunity, after spending last season with the Brooklyn Nets’ G League affiliate.

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Williams, 24, is confident he can become what Spoelstra wants while remaining what the Skyforce need.

“I’m just always going to play my game,” he said, “no matter what. I don’t really change.”

And then there is the nickname, which hasn’t changed, a Midwest moniker shared with no less than Kendrick Lamar, among others.

“I would say I was like 4 years old when I was first called by that,” Williams said.

Heat forward Jamal Cain, who has spent time alongside Williams in Sioux Falls, said Man-Man is the norm, with Alondes rarely used by teammates.

“From the first day I met him, his name was Man-Man. I kind of grew up in that same type of environment, of where the young guys get called Man-Man,” said Cain, a native of Pontiac, Mich., who also is on a two-way contract. “I had some friends and cousins named Man-Man. To me, it was those kids that ran around a lot, were very active. I was a Man-Man child, that’s for sure.”

The tattoos on the back of each arm, Williams said, were added last year.

Heat forward Cole Swider said it became evident from his first minutes with the Skyforce that Williams could flat out score, very much an active Man-Man.

“I would say all the players say Man-Man,” said Swider, who also is on a two-way contract. “I didn’t know what it was at first, but I figured it was a childhood nickname that he went by.

“He takes it seriously. It’s cool that he has the tats on.”