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Norris Cole’s first NBA championship gives Clevelanders reason to be proud

CSU standout goes from NBA rookie to NBA champion within a year.

By Eric Bonzar

July 12, 2012


On June 21, the Miami Heat, in dominating fashion, beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to secure their second NBA championship in franchise history.

Much to the dismay of Clevelanders, the city’s prodigal son, Lebron James, managed to capture his ever-elusive first championship, and gather the momentum to back his claim of garnering, “not one, not two, not three…” but an endless collection of Larry O’Brien trophies to enshrine his legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game.

But like most stories, James’ and the Heat’s accomplishment– as detested as it is by beloved CAVS fans and Clevelanders– has a silver lining to it.

In a city that begged for a hometown hero to hoist a championship within the confines of the Quicken Loans Arena, only to see their hopes and dreams smolder away into the Miami heat, they failed to realize they truly had their Cleveland son in Miami in a point guard named Norris Cole.

Cole, a graduate of Dunbar High School in Dayton Ohio, where he led the team in scoring as a senior and led the school to its second straight state title, signed with Cleveland State in 2007 to play college basketball–a path that Cleveland’s self proclaimed “chosen one” chose to forgo.

During his four years with the Vikings, Cole compiled an impressive resume there also.
Cole became the only player in the nation to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a game his senior year, joining Clinton Ransey and Clinton Smith as the only Associated Press All-Americans in Viking basketball history, and became the first player in league history to be named Horizon League Player of the Year and Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.

Coach Gary Waters said that it’s that commitment to defensive that has helped make Cole successful so early in his career and with the Miami Heat, and also made him a key factor in their win over the Thunder.

“They (Miami) really don’t have anyone with that ability, that’s why they got beat the year before in the Dallas series,” said Waters.

Waters also said that the way Cole carries himself off the court is what makes him a true champion.

“The right person, deservingly so, received it,” said Waters. “Forget about basketball. The type of person he is, how hard he works, his value structure, his integrity, all those things helped build him into where he’s at today.”

And according to Waters, Norris Cole is reason enough to be proud of the Heat’s accomplishment this season, no matter what Clevelanders may think of James.

“When you get a kid who goes into those types of situations with an ego and issues, he may not be able to handle what happens in those championship series,” said Waters. “Norris has been able to handle all that, and that speaks volumes for himself.”
“And that’s what you look for in a player.”