Denzel Washington pauses to inspire Heat during Hawks series, ‘Keep raising the standard’ – The Mercury News

It turns out, the Miami Heat’s blowout victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night might not have been the highlight of their weekend trip to Atlanta.

Instead, it well could have been a poignant and powerful moment with two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington at their team hotel ahead of that Sunday romp.

There, gathered in a semicircle around the 67-year-old actor, director and producer, the Heat found themselves in rapt absorption as Washington offered impromptu words of inspiration.

“Keep raising the standard about how you carry yourself, as you all do,” he said to his engrossed audience of players and team staffers. “Keep teaching, keep leading, keep following. You know, learn from the best. That’s what I’ve done. Try to, and pass it on.

“Last thing I’ll say, which I’ve said a lot of times, you’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. I’ll say it again, you’ll never a U-Haul behind a hearse. The Egyptians tried it. All they got was robbed.”

With several offerings “amen” to that comment. Washington continued.

“Even money aside, you can’t take it with you,” he told them. “But you can, you can leave it with us — influence, your power, your wisdom, your ability to touch people.

“Because everybody’s watching you all. Everybody got a favorite guy.”

The Mount Vernon, NY, native then shared a moment about his own sports passion.

“I spoke to the Dodgers the other day. I even went in with a Yankees hat on. I don’t care,” he said. “Elston Howard was a black player in the 60s and I wanted to be him. I tried to walk like him, you know. You know, and stuff. You know, what you all did. I tried to walk like him and stuff. I ended up playing catcher.

“So you know that they’re watching you, and they’re following you. And especially for young boys, listen to your elders and lead quietly.”

He paused, then added, “and win.”

And then, as he shook hands with those gathered and asked where they stood in the series against Atlanta, he referenced the unique look of Hawks All-Star guard Trae Young.

“And tell that little boy to get a haircut,” he said with a smile amid laughter. “What kind of haircut he working with?”

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