If there was ever a time to reflect on all that you’re grateful, it’s the holidays. And there is no one happier in the city than the Miami Heat’s DJ Irie. And it's not just because he got his job back now that the lockout is over.
With the Miami Heat’s season kicking off on Dec. 25, Irie will be back spinning each and every home game starting a few days before New Years Eve when they play the Boston Celtics at the American Airlines Arena. But before getting back to work, he took time to focus on his charity, the Irie Foundation.
Last week, along with Stoli & Premier Beverages, he invited Miami’s A-list to his Winter Wonderland celebration at a private mansion on Miami Beach. Not only did he bring out socialites and celebrities alike, he raised a lot of money for some of Miami’s most unprivileged schools.
So after the party was said and done, he took time to chat with us about Lebron, the lockout and why he thinks we have the 2012 Championship in the bag.
Tell me about your charity, the Irie Foundation.
For about 10 years, I have been working closely with Alonzo Mourning and his foundation, the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Make-A-Wish, you name it. And I saw first hand all the work they do, and its all astounding, but what really struck me was when I worked with Teach for America. I was a teacher for a day at Edison Junior High. When I went down there, met the students and got to understand what they were going through, I knew there was a lot of need. Especially when it came to education. And it all kind of started from there. We haven’t even been up and running for a year, but I am really proud of what we have done so far.
A lot of the Heat players are Miami transplants, but create their charities here in the 305.
It’s our home, no matter where you are from. This community has supported me and helped do what I do and be who I am, so its great to be able to give back. I know the entire Heat family feels that way.
Speaking of the Miami Heat, are you excited for the season to get started Dec.25?
I am so happy! First and foremost, outside of the heat, I am huge fan of the game. To be able to have basketball back is really exciting for me. And it goes to another level being able to be back with the Heat, seeing our guys back on the court and starting that quest for a championship. I’m elated.
What did you think of the lockout in general? You’re an NBA employee – you must have felt affected.
It was tough. I am someone who really appreciates the game, but I understand that the business side has to be met as well. I really didn’t take sides, but was just hoping and praying for a resolution. You never want to be part of a team that is divided between owners and players. Its safe to say I was very glad to see that a happy medium was met.
Do you see a Championship in 2012?
I am huge Heat – always have been. I think we have an amazing team. Well, I think we had and have the best team in the NBA. I think we can go all the way. I feel so amazing about it.
So, what went wrong last year?
Look at someone like Lebron James. He had been with Cleveland, in that system and with that coach for seven years; that’s a long time to be in that leadership position. And then the next season, you join a completely new team, new organization and kind of have to readjust your playing style. It was the same thing for Bosh and even Wade. For Wade, it was a whole new team as well. It was a big change and there were some kinks they had to work out.
So, this is the year for the Miami Heat?
I'll say this: I don’t think there is a better team poised to win a Championship than the Miami Heat.