PALOS HILLS, Ill. – The road to the NBA Finals begins in several places for a number of different players. For Max Strus, it started at Stagg High School, where his brother Marty is now the head coach of the Chargers. 

“The biggest knock on why he didn’t get all of these huge offers out of high school was just his size, and those are all fair. He wasn’t the prototypical size,” Marty Strus said. “But his athletic ability overcame a ton of that.”

Max made leaps and bounds on the court, with his brother, Marty, taking notice.

“I was doing my own thing in college and when I came back, all of a sudden, he’s flying through the air and dunking. ‘Where did that come from?'” he said.

Strus’ journey to Miami was a long one. Beginning as a 5-foot-9-inch sophomore to a 6-foot-6-inch senior, he took his talents to Lewis University, then to DePaul University for two seasons before going undrafted and signing two-way deals with the Celtics and Bulls.

He would eventually land in South Beach. 

“It’s just a match made in heaven, Max and the Heat,” Marty said. “No nonsense, hard work, toughness. Just all about winning and doing it the right way.”

Now Strus is preparing to play on basketball’s biggest stage, the NBA Finals, showcasing a culmination of his hard work, talent, and ability to overcome any obstacle, including a torn ACL in 2019.

“He just never stopped believing and never stopped working hard and I think he just continually reevaluated what’s possible as he’s gone along,” Marty said.

As Strus gains even more national recognition playing in his first NBA Finals, his family is most proud of his work off the court and how he has represented his loved ones and his community.

“I’m way more proud of him for how he carries himself through all this stuff,” Marty said. “He came back here last year and ran his camp at Stagg for a week. Raised a ton of money for the Andrew Weishar Foundation. A lot of people run a camp to put their name on it and make money for themselves. He did all this for them. He routinely checks in with some of those people that are benefitting from that. You just see it here, working here. Today, was a “red out” for the Heat. Everyone wore red. If he weren’t a good person, there wouldn’t be what there is now.”

So, the cheering continues for Strus and the Miami Heat as they chase a world championship with the Strus family attending as many games as they can.