After sitting out most of last season rehabbing from shoulder surgery, Justise Winslow is ready to make a mark. Armed with lofty goals (making an all-defensive team) and 10-15 pounds lighter, Winslow is ready to work his way back into the starting lineup and become a force.
I had the opportunity to speak with Justise on Monday and we spoke about topics ranging from his new partnership with MET-Rx to his favorite road arena. Justise was candid in his responses, shedding light on the mysterious Heat culture and how it differed from Duke as well as his preparation he’s taken for the new season.
Can you tell me about your partnership with MET-Rx?
“I’ve kind of had an extended offseason you could say (because of his shoulder injury) since January so early on I was wondering what I could do to take my game to the next level and take care of my body. I thought it was a great opportunity to partner with MET-Rx. A goal of mine was to lose weight. So having one of their “Big 100” bars around is great.
“I wanted to lose weight and become lighter and more explosive, so working with MET-Rx really helped. Having the products around was very beneficial, but I ended up being down 10-15 pounds. Just getting into the best shape possible was a big priority for me to taking my game to the next level. Just having their products around has been great, not having to go out looking for protein. MET-Rx has been a big part of that for me, helping me lose the weight and become more explosive and just getting in the best shape I can.”
The partnership with MET-Rx is nutrition focused so with that, what is your diet and how has it changed since you entered the league?
“A lot of that I learned during the recovery process, when I hurt my shoulder. You just start to understand the attention to details and the attention to every rep, during the rehab process. I taught myself an incredible amount of self discipline, whether it’s a focus on each rep, showing up on time with the right attitude. I kinda brought that and conditioned that into other parts. It’s a lot of self discipline and it is tough.”
“If I have candy, in the back of my head I know I’m going to burn it off in a couple of minutes in practice. But really it’s been an extreme amount of self discipline that I’m thankful to have learned from the rehab process. It is tough though, I’m not going to say I don’t cheat or have a snack here or there, but that’s part of it. Eating greener has helped, I still have some red meats, meats, and fish in my diet, but I try to stay away from the fries, Cheetos and Doritos. So a lot more fruit. A leaner diet.”
Comment on the Heat Culture, how is it different from Duke?
“The Heat culture is built on a lot of things that I embodied before I got there so from that standpoint it was a perfect fit. The Heat culture is really about being the most prepared team, the hardest working team, the most physical team and the most in shape team. So those are things from a young age that were already instilled in me…from different coaches in AAU, high school coaches, working out with older guys…when I got to the Heat it was almost a perfect fit from that culture mentally.
“Growing up in my household my mom had to do a lot, so it’s what she instilled in her kids, to be hardworking, sacrificing…really seeing the bigger picture. Doing things you don’t want to do. So I took that to Duke and improved on my mindset and mentality. I think top to bottom the main priority is winning. The coaching staff, front office and trainers understand that that’s the goal. We’re just trying to put the pieces together and make the puzzle complete. Sometimes that’s going to be minutes, sometimes it’s shots, but when you get to a point where it’s almost there and try to be the last man standing, it (the culture) brings you to another level.”
You’re one of most prolific defenders in the league, what is the mindset you bring to defense and who are your favorite players to defend?
“Well for me I have to get back to that, obviously a lot of improvement has taken place offensively for me, but defense is where I hang my hat. That’s where I take pride when I’m on the court. My goal is to make one of the All-Defensive teams, either first or second team. But it’s something I take personally, I don’t want to allow my man to score on me. Just bringing that mentality into every game.
“I like guarding guys like DeMar DeRozan and Paul George — they’re always fun matchups, I know I’m going to have my hands full. So I’m locked in and ready for the challenge. That’s the challenge, and being prepared, with the scouting report and game plan and then going out there and giving it your all and sticking to your principles throughout the game.”
How do Coach K’s, and Coach Spo’s coaching styles differ?
“Both are very intense individuals that love them some defense. So just this year we started off the training camp with two straight practices dedicated to defense, the same as my time with Duke. They love physicality, defense and hard work.
“They both hammer home their points in different ways, Coach K a little bit more of a screamer and yeller and obviously that doesn’t fly as much in the league. Spo’s a little bit smoother in that regard, they’re both super intense in the way they communicate, but that’s the same for all coaches. All coaches understand their players and how to hammer home their point. Both are very intense, pure genuine coaches who are trying to help the team.”
Do you have a mentor on the Heat?
“Just a lot of guys, I try to take a lot where I can. So yeah, a guy like JJ (James Johnson), our lockers are right next to each other. We play similar positions so I can pick his brain about things. Udonis is of course a leader, and if you have any problems, he’s seen it all.
“I won’t limit myself to only one player, but I’ll say JJ has done a phenomenal job just being that guy I can really lean on. I just try to pick up on any minor details, anything.”
What’s your favorite Heat jersey?
“Our new Nike jerseys, and I don’t think they’ve been released yet, but our Miami Vice ones. You can imagine what they would look like, it’s Miami Vice so there are some pretty cool colors on there, so that’s different and I’m excited to wear those. Then like a lot of our other jerseys…I like the white, man I like that home feeling especially in the playoffs, the fans pack it out, the white hot theme, just wearing those. I feel “bad” in the white. The black really has a road warrior mentality, but yeah those white and Miami Vice uniforms”
How do you mentally prepare for the season, are you excited, nervous?
“I’m excited, but at the same time using different techniques to prepare, writing, watching film, meditating just finding ways to stay relaxed. I don’t want to overthink the start of the season. I want to go in there excited and ready, but at the same time relaxed and be able to play my game.
“I’m not doing anything crazy. I’m enjoying this last little bit of free time with my friends and getting ready for the season to go.”
How do you spend your off time?
“I kind of like to keep my brain engaged, so watching cool documentaries, learning different things about film and the visual arts. I like to kind of stay active, not necessarily running around in the park, but walking around with my buddies, playing with my dog and embracing this great culture that Miami has to offer.
“I try to stay off my feet, but still get around, walk around go shopping a bit, but once the season gets underway I’ll be off my feet more and watching a bit more Netflix.”
Who has the better food scene, Miami or Houston?
“I gotta go with Houston, that’s home for me. 18 years there and little over two here in Miami now. It’s that Houston flavour, they’ve got everything, they’ve got that BBQ, they’ve got Tex-Mex, they’ve got Indian, Japanese. Miami’s great, but I gotta go with Houston.”
What is your favorite sport to watch outside of basketball?
“Obviously growing up in Texas, football. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in football right now. I like soccer too…I actually watched the US Open too, and playoff baseball, Astros are going hard right now so I’ve definitely been keeping up with them.”
What is your favorite road arena?
“There’s nothing like the Garden (MSG) man, a lot of places try to duplicate it with the lighting and stuff, but yeah there’s nothing like the Garden.”