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Sioux Falls Skyforce President Mike Heineman on the Team’s Affiliation with the Miami Heat After Year One

Sioux Falls Skyforce President Mike Heineman joined Friday’s edition of Overtime with Jeff Thurn. 

Heineman and the Skyforce have a single affiliation partnership with the Miami Heat of the NBA. Last year, Sioux Falls was 31-19, and fell short in the NBA Developmental League playoffs against Fort Wayne in the semifinals.

Heineman’s brother, Robb, is the President of Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer. Thurn asks Mike Heineman what kind of impact the World Cup will have on the MLS?

“Well, what’s big about this year’s team is there is so many MLS guys who have assigned roles on the team. You look at (Clint) Dempsey, and (Michael) Bradley, and two guys from our team, (Graham) Zusi, and (Matt) Besler. It has much more of an MLS feel than past seasons when guys played over in Europe and you never heard of them until they played in the World Cup. The fact that so many of these guys that are actually playing in the States, it helps our league and hopefully these guys are playing roles on the team. It should only help.”

The Miami Heat selected P.J. Hairston from the Texas Legends, and later traded him to Charlotte. The New York Knicks picked Thanasis Antetokounmpo of Delaware 87ers from the NBADL as well. Heineman discusses if more players should go en route of playing in the NBADL versus one-year of college basketball: 

“Yeah, I hope we start getting some guys outside of guys who have just got into trouble and left college. P.J. got into a little trouble at North Carolina and had to use our league continue his career. It would be nice if we could get the stars coming out of high school and skipping college and then come into our league. And it’s going to take the one big guy to do it. Who knows when that will come. It might be this year, next year, or three years down the road. Obviously, I might be a little biased, but I think it is a better path to playing against men all year long, and you may get exposed a little bit, whereas in college, you can hide a little bit. But I think it is a better path for these guys. It is going to prepare them more for the NBA and they are going to be playing against men all year long. It’s a professional game, a totally different game than college. The travel, and everything that comes with being a professional, you get with that being in our league instead of college where you pampered pretty good, and it’s not really the real world. Now, you get pampered in the NBA, too, but you are a professional, you are man and are responsible for what you have to do just as it is in our league.”

Will LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh be back for the Miami Heat next year? 

“I think they are all back. I hope they are all back. Obviously, we value the Heat relationship a lot and we want what is best for them and ultimately, that’s what they want. I think they will be back. I think they still have what it takes to win a championship with adding a couple of pieces, which it looks like they are trying to do. So, my gut feeling tells me they will be back.”

How well do you think the Skyforce’s affiliation with the Heat went in its first year? 

“I would give it a pretty high score. They came in and did what they said were going to do. That was to make us competitive and we were and we had the second-best record in the league and to the semifinals. More than anything else, they brought a very high-level of professionalism with our team this year. Just a great group of guys, all the way from Pat Riley, who was very involved with what we were doing. Andy Ellsburg, the general manager, was very involved with what were doing. That’s what they were. We didn’t hear the greatest stories of teams that were in hybrid and we were a little worried about it, but they kept their word, and valued what we were doing here in Sioux Falls and want it to make it right and do it the right way. I think they did.”

The NBADL draft is not until November 1.

To hear more of Heineman’s interview with Thurn, listen below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Catch Thurn daily on Overtime from 3 to 6 p.m. on ESPN 99.1.

For comments, or story ideas, email Sam at, and follow him on Twitter @samtastad.

Skyforce group shot
(Dave Eggen/NBAE/Getty Images)

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