Did J. Cole Help the Miami Heat Reach the NBA Finals?

On Monday night (May 29), the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals 103-84. This victory pushed the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals for the second time since 2020. But, they likely could not have done it without an unlikely hero.

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The leading scorer for the Heat on Monday was Caleb Martin, who had 26 points and made 11 of his 16 shot attempts. Martin, who is a fourth-year player in the league, was not drafted by Miami or any team at all coming out of college but has cemented himself as a valuable piece of a Heat team looking for their first championship since 2013. However, Martin joining the Heat in the first place in 2021 likely would not have happened without the help of iconic rapper J. Cole.

Cole, who recently played professional basketball himself in Rwanda, had first noticed Martin when he played for the Charlotte Hornets from 2019-21. Growing up in North Carolina and being a vocal Hornets fan, Cole became a fan of Martin and let him train at his personal gym after the young player got released from the Hornets.

Before Game 3 of this week’s best-of-7 series versus Boston, Martin spoke to TNT commentator Ernie Johnson about this time of his life and Cole’s assistance.

“I had been cool with Cole for a minute, and I was just working out in his gym pretty much the entire time when I got waived from Charlotte,” he said. “He’d seen me every day and he just kept asking me every day why I haven’t been signed, why I’m not with a team. I just kept telling him, ‘I haven’t gotten a chance yet.'”

This interaction prompted Cole to reach out to his friend Caron Butler, a former NBA player and current assistant coach for the Heat.

“He just went straight to his contacts and hit up Caron,” Martin continued. “They put me in position to come up here and get a scrimmage and run with the team… I just came in, played well, and the rest is history.”

Now, Martin is under contract with the Heat until 2025, making more than $6 million per year. Martin and the Heat begin their NBA Finals series versus the Denver Nuggets on Thursday (June 1). Check out the 27-year-old’s interview with TNT below.

Photo by Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

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