Ronny Turiaf has a unique ability to give back while looking forward.
The Miami Heat recently concluded a grueling eight-game, 11-day stretch and the players finally had a day off earlier this week. Turiaf spent part of it talking about his latest project, joining teammate Dwyane Wade, NBA players Jeremy Lin and Chris Paul and others to help promote and raise funds for Prevent Child Abuse America’s 40th anniversary.
“I want to be remembered for more than basketball,” said Turiaf, who started his Heart to Heart Foundation in 2009 to provide medical care and health services to children in need. “I just feel like everyone can play a role in a healthy child’s development and I’m happy to use basketball as a platform to help others.”
Turiaf is experiencing one of the more interesting seasons of his six-year NBA career. The former Gonzaga standout was with the Washington Wizards, but a broken hand limited him to just four games. He was dealt to Denver in a three-team trade, but the Nuggets released him. Turiaf signed with Miami roughly a month ago after receiving recruiting calls from Wade and LeBron James.
“His energy fits what we do defensively,” James said at the time. “His passion, he fits our DNA. We’re happy to have him on board.”
With stints as a Los Angeles Laker and New York Knick, Turiaf has played in major media markets, but Miami became the league’s most scrutinized team after signing James in July 2010. On ESPN.com’s NBA page, alongside links for scores, standings and rankings, there’s a Heat Index icon. Click on it and there’s nothing but Miami-related copy.
“I just focus on playing the game and not so much worrying about what’s being said around me,” said Turiaf, sidelined recently with a hamstring injury. “Everybody wants to know what our three superstars (Wade, James and Chris Bosh) are doing, it comes with the territory. Everybody should want to play on that big of stage.”
Turiaf certainly does, for one. He was with the Lakers in 2008 when they lost in the finals to Boston. He has also spent time on struggling teams with Golden State and Washington.
Turiaf has played with some of the league’s biggest stars, including Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and current teammates James and Wade. Turiaf said playing with James and Wade makes his job easier, because they occupy so much attention from opponents.
“They all have similarities – the desire to win games, they have the ‘it’ factor, they play with a tremendous amount of energy and they play at a high level,” he said. “I’ve learned from each of them.”
The Heat, who lost to Dallas in last year’s finals, are battling Chicago for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
“The key is to get everybody healthy and play hard for 48 minutes,” Turiaf said. “We need to minimize our mistakes. It’s about trying to play our best basketball. We’re starting to build some nice momentum and hopefully we can go into the playoffs with a full head of steam.”