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J-Will Assists on Shaq's Slam

A week that began with Sports Illustrated releasing a story in which Shaquille O'Neal slammed the Heat's Jason_williams professionalism and work ethic during the 2006 championship run ended with the point guard of that title team offering his own less-than-nostalgic assist.

The Heat has often come out on the short end when former Miami point guard Jason Williams is asked to compare his current Orlando Magic squad to the Heat's 2005-06 team that won a championship.

I had a chance to catch up with J-Will as he tries to grab another championship ring, this time with the Sunshine State's other NBA team. The feature story will run in Sunday's edition of the Miami Herald to advance the Orlando-Boston series.

As the Magic prepared for Game 1, J-Will explained what the main difference is between the teams. And his reasoning didn't differ too much from O'Neal, who questioned out loud in the S.I. article this week how the 2006 Heat ever won that title with its partying ways off the court.

"I didn't even know that was going to be a shot at the title," Williams said. "But I'll take it. D-Wade carried a lot of that slack."

With the Heat down 0-2 against Dallas in the Finals, it was Wade who stepped up and rescued Miami on the way to four straight victories by averaging nearly 40 points a game. Wade was named Finals MVP, and could be the only player remaining from that championship run when the 2010-11 season opens.

Williams believes his current Magic team is far deeper and much more focused than Miami's champion.

But it remains to be seen if the Magic has enough heart and the necessary finisher to complete the job.

"We weren't as focused when we won the championship in 2006," Williams said. "I can say that. I was there. I saw it. I was at the shootarounds, all the practices and stuff. Don't get me wrong. We got the job done. But here, with every little thing, we're so focused."

The irony of it is J-Will and Shaq were two of the bigger problems on that team when it came to attitude, J-Will&Pat work ethic and meeting Riley's demands for defense and conditioning. They were also big reasons why the Heat won. And Miami hasn't seen their level of production at center and point guard since they departed. But I remember hearing something about the two of them getting tossed out of practices, including an infamous session when Shaq supposedly refused to leave and charged after Riley before Alonzo Mourning stepped between them.

That's one of the many legends that came out of that season. Maybe it happened. Maybe it didn't. But there was always something going down with that team during the championship season and title defense that followed - and fizzled.

On one hand, there's so much talk out of AmericanAirlines Arena about the Heat culture, loyalty, honor and class. And then, on the other hand, some who were supposed to be part of all those things look back and toss molotov cocktails at that championship run.

It's almost as if that season needs to be featured as the next ESPN 30 for 30 documentary and directed by ChrisPerkinsEnterprises.

The more you learn from that magical 2006 season, the more it goes into one of two files. There are those who are forever fond of the memories. And others who seem to get too much pleasure out of essentially farting on the foundation of that success.

Williams is appreciative of winning a championship with Miami. He admits that. And he's a straight shooter about it. But he's even more thrilled with the opportunity he has to get another title as a Magic reserve.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)




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