Basketball / Sports

Heat's Mario Chalmers ready for fresh start

MIAMI -- No one was harder on himself throughout last postseason than Mario Chalmers.

Every interview, he talked about how he was disappointed in his play. His shooting. His defense. He was down on his entire game.

A month later, Chalmers is back to his confident self. He has lots of reason to smile, mostly because the Heat re-signed him after many felt he was no longer wanted.

So how he played in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs is a thing of the past.

"I'm past the Finals," Chalmers said, speaking at his basketball camp at Miami-Dade Boys & Girls Club. "Over and done with."

Chalmers has moved on from his nightmarish performance in the Finals. He averaged just 4.4 points and shot 33 percent in the Heat's 4-1 series loss, ending the Big Three era. The low point came when Chalmers was benched in Game 5, with coach Erik Spoelstra going without a point guard in the starting lineup.

Chalmers is hoping the two-year contract provides opportunity for redemption. He took the bulk of the criticism, making most forget about his 25-point performance that helped the Heat defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 Finals.

"You just take a couple of days to think about it and then you get over it," Chalmers said.

The poor play made for a stressful month after the season. There was question if the Heat would bring him back. With no longer being wanted a possibility, he mulled offers from the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls.

In the end, Miami is where he wanted to remain.

"I had conversations with other teams," Chalmers said. "Everybody was waiting to see what LeBron (James) was going to do ... In my heart, I wanted to stay, but at the same time if I felt like if I had a better position somewhere else I was going to take it."

Chalmers said he was shocked to see James return to Cleveland after four seasons in Miami. The two have spoken since, with Chalmers wishing well his former teammate. He was among the closest players to James.

"We were surprised," Chalmers said. "I never thought anybody would want to leave Miami for Cleveland, but you grow up and you move on. That's what happened, and there's no love lost."

His relationship with James was mostly known for being on the receiving end of constant yelling during games. Now, he said he is looking forward to playing against him with his new teammates.

"I talked to him a couple times," Chalmers said. "I'm not mad at him at all ... He had to do what was best for him and his family."

The focus for Chalmers now is maintaining the starting spot. He is expected to receive strong competition from backup Norris Cole, who made strides last year. It didn't help his confidence when the Heat acquired rookie Shabazz Napier in a draft-day trade.

"It won't affect me at all," Chalmers said. "We've always had three point guards on the roster ... I'm going in preparing for the mindset that I'm starting the whole year."

After four straight appearances in the Finals, Chalmers sees no reason why the streak should end. The Heat acquired forwards Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger to offset the loss of James. They also retained Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, providing a solid foundation.

"We still got D-Wade and C.B.," Chalmers said. "We still got people on the team that can help us get back to where we were ... We've got a lot of good pieces that can help fill that spot LeBron left. We got a team that's going to work together."

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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