Wednesday, September 12, 2012

After a Long Journey, Miami Heat Center Mickell Gladness Hopes to Stick in South Beach

Miami Heat center Mickell Gladness didn't have the easiest road to South Beach-but now he's found his way back.

After graduating from Alabama A&M with a career 396 blocks, Gladness saw the 2008 NBA draft come and go without a mention of his name. A defensive gem seemed to have fallen through the cracks, but that didn't deter him from pursuing his career as pro basketball player. 

The former Bulldog took his talents overseas to the Netherlands, where he joined the Matrixx Magix Nijmegen for one season. After playing one year in Europe, Gladness  split his next three years between the Rio Grand Vally Vipors and the Dakota Wizards in the NBA's D-League.

Last season Gladness caught the eye of the Miami Heat and finally broke into the league he had been working towards for so many years. 

Gladness appeared in only 8 games last season for the Heat before becoming a free agent after his 10-day contract expired. He soon caught on with Golden State and finished out the season with the Warriors averaging 3.0 points and 2.6 rebounds.

With a new season set to begin, the former Warrior has caught on with a familiar team in Miami. The Heat have signed Gladness to a non-guaranteed training camp contract, and while their roster stands at 15 now, they can bring up to 20 players to training camp, which begins September 29.

Until then, the Heat center says he is just happy to be back with Miami.

"Right now I'm in the place I want to be," Gladness told Talkin Hoopz. "I've dreamed about playing here, and excelling here."

Excelling in South Beach with such a crowded roster may be a tough thing to do, but the lack of size and depth in Miami play in Mickell's favor.

Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman primarily serve as the Heat's centers, with Chris Bosh rumored to get some spot starts at the position. If Gladness can create some seperation from Jarvis Varnado, who signed a similar non-guaranteed contract, then the big man from Alabama could make the final roster. Bosh as a regular starting center will not happen, he can't swing with opposing centers on a night to night basis and still be expected to contribute significantly on the offensive end.

Gladness has all the tools to make it in the NBA, and with training camp opening at the end of the month, he'll get the opportunity to show out and prove he deserves to play along side Lebron James and D-Wade.

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