Work Never Stops for McGruder

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
by Joe Beguiristain

When you accomplish something you’ve always set your mind to, you can do one of two things: get complacent or work even harder. If you’ve ever watched Rodney McGruder on the court or listened to him speak, you might have an inclination as to which option he chose.

After earning himself a spot on the HEAT’s roster in October, McGruder went on to start 65 games for Miami, which was the fifth-most for a rookie in franchise history. From spot-up threes and quick cuts to the basket to strong on-ball defense, the swingman showed a lot of promise on both ends of the floor.

Even so, the work is still far from over.

“There’s not one thing that I’m not working on,” McGruder said. “I have great coaches that have been working with me this summer and just helping me out a lot and really expanding my knowledge on things and the reasoning behind things.”

That approach from the coaching staff to each and every player on the roster has manifested itself into one of the strongest player development programs in the NBA. Other than McGruder, guys like Tyler Johnson and Hassan Whiteside have also risen through the ranks with the assistance of the coaches. While Eric Glass, Chris Quinn and Rob Fodor are the ones who work out McGruder, the 25-year-old really admires Erik Spoelstra’s and Dan Craig’s coaching style.

“Those are two guys that once I coach, I want to model myself after because they’re just so positive, but they still get their point across being positive,” McGruder said. “Like they’re not screaming and cursing you out, but they still get their point across from being positive and they’re phenomenal coaches.”

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that McGruder is big on positive energy. For a guy who went undrafted, played overseas in Hungary and was waived from two NBA teams before being a part of the HEAT’s system and culture, it would have been easy for McGruder to move on to “Plan B”. That’s not how he goes about his business, though.

“I figured one way or another it was going to work,” McGruder said. “I just had faith and really I prayed about it. Shoot, this past season, my prayers were answered. I couldn’t be more thankful or fortunate to be with a great organization like the HEAT, man, an organization that really cares for you. It’s hard to put into words how appreciative and thankful I am to be here.”

Because of his unique journey, McGruder is in a perfect position to not only inspire the youth, but also give some advice to up-and-comers who will be participating in Summer League on July 1.

“I would just say don’t put limits on yourself or don’t let anyone else put limits on yourself either. Just whatever you want in life, go after it. Believe in yourself and have faith in the man above. That’s what I believe got me here.”