Miami’s Mario Chalmers is in an interesting spot as a restricted free agent point guard who played last season for a team that has little need for a traditional point guard. Chalmers is a ball-handler by trade, but if he stays with the Heat, he’ll be playing heavy minutes alongside two of the league’s greatest ball-handlers. Then again, he’d also have a chance at a championship ring every year.
Chalmers spoke to SI.com last week about his career so far, free agency, losing the NBA Finals and the exhibition he has planned in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, on Dec. 1. Players tentatively set to play include Carlos Boozer (a fellow Alaskan), Eric Gordon, James Harden, DeAndre Jordan, John Wall, Spencer Hawes and a bunch of NBA guys who, like Chalmers, attended Kansas.
SI.com: You’re a point guard. In Miami, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade basically play that position. Does that matter to you, as you contemplate free agency?
Chalmers: Yeah, it matters, because that’s my position. At the same time, I’ll do whatever it takes for my team to win.
SI.com: But in Miami, if you play with those guys, you’re going to be a spot-up shooter on a lot of possessions. Does that impact the way you’ve trained in the offseason? Are you working on cutting, shooting and things like that instead of ball-handling and the pick-and-roll?
Chalmers: It’s not only spot-up shooting, but that’s kind of how it goes sometimes [in Miami]. But I’m more than just a spot-up shooter. I can get to the rim and find my teammates.
SI.com: You could do more of that if you come of the bench or play more while LeBron and Wade sit, though, right? Were you upset that Erik Spoelstra didn’t start you until Game 6 of the Finals?
Chalmers: Actually, no. I like coming off the bench. I had a good rhythm coming off the bench. I didn’t want to start, and I told coach I felt comfortable coming off the bench. But now I want to start. Next year, I want to be a starter.
SI.com: The opportunity would seem to be there in Miami, right?
Chalmers: I feel like it has always been there. Stuff has just happened.
SI.com: I suppose if you stay, those ball-handling skills will always come in handy, if only for those possessions when the ball ends up in your hands with three seconds on the shot clock.
Chalmers: That’s one scenario. But I’m still a young guy in the NBA. Maybe all my years won’t be in Miami, you know? Maybe I’ll go someplace where I have to do different things.
SI.com: Did you have fun last season?
Chalmers: I had a lot of fun. Just playing with two or three of the best players in the NBA — it’s a lot of fun playing with those guys.
SI.com: All the hate you guys faced didn’t get to you? Wade said the other day that perhaps you guys focused too much on slaying the haters.
Chalmers: I embraced the role of being a villain. I’d rather have that role than the nice-guy role. It’s something I really enjoyed.
Chalmers: I like to shut the crowd up. I like t0 break the crowd’s heart with a big shot.
SI.com: Any place you like doing that in particular?
Chalmers: We didn’t win there last year, but usually, it’s Memphis, because of the NCAA tournament. [Editor's note: As you probably remember, Chalmers, then at Kansas, hit a game-tying three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation in the NCAA title game against Memphis; the Jayhawks would win in overtime.] They’re angry. I usually get it the most there. I’ve had someone on Twitter when we’re there say, “If I see you on my street, you’ll be in trouble.”
SI.com: There are crazy people out there. That’s kind of scary.
Chalmers: That’s hilarious to me.
SI.com: By the way, I was going to win my office pool had Memphis won that game. Do you get people coming up to you all the time, saying you won them their office pool — or lost it for them?
Chalmers: Sorry about that. I do hear that from people — mostly people that say I helped them win a lot of money.
Chalmers: I make myself hit three half-court shots at the end of my workout routine. A lot of people do it for fun, but I take it seriously. The secret is to just shoot it regular. Don’t try to put too much force into it.
SI.com: Did your jaw hit the floor when Jason Terry left you wide open for that three toward the end of Game 2 in the Finals? I would have gotten so excited, I’d have surely bricked that shot.
Chalmers: With superstars like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade around you, you are going to get those kind of moments. I wasn’t surprised by it. The same thing kind of happened in New York when we played the Knicks after they first got Melo. I missed that one. So I definitely wanted to make the other one [in the Finals].
SI.com: You developed a really nice pick-and-roll chemistry with Chris Bosh. Is that something the two of you worked on a ton, or is it just the combination of you and Bosh — a really good pick-and-roll guy who can hit jumpers and go to the rim off that play?
Chalmers: It’s something Coach had us work on. It’s how the rotation sort of goes in practice. Chris is a good guy, and he’s a great player. You give him the ball, and he can do anything, depending on how the defense plays us.
SI.com: Do you watch a lot of film to prep to defend opposing point guards?
Chalmers: Yeah, I watch a lot. You’re not going to stop everybody in the NBA, but you’ve got to make it tough for them.
SI.com: Does Spoelstra make you watch the film, or does he just hand you DVDs and maybe suggest it?
Chalmers: He doesn’t give it to you, actually. He suggests you ask the film guys. But I’m sure he’s checking to see if we really do.
SI.com: Spoelstra loves advanced stats. He’s a numbers guy. Does he share a ton of them with you, or does he sort of leave individual players alone unless they ask for the numbers? Some players say they don’t want to know too much, because they might start over-thinking on the court.
Chalmers: That’s a perfect way to describe coach Spo — he’s a numbers guy. One thing I learned is I have one of the best plus/minuses on the team. That’s real good.
SI.com: Could you basically learn anything you wanted to know about yourself from him? Could you ask, say, what your shooting percentage is after one dribble on the left wing?
Chalmers: He could probably tell me that off the top of his head.
SI.com: Have you learned anything about your game from those numbers you didn’t really know before?
Chalmers: I learned I have a sweet spot from the corner. I used to hate shooting from the corner, but now it’s where I have one of my highest percentages.
SI.com: Why did you hate it before?
Chalmers: In high school and college, I always had the ball in my hands. I was hardly ever in the corner.
SI.com: What happened to LeBron in the Finals? Were you guys internally as confused about that as the rest of us?
Chalmers: I’d rather not talk about that.