Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't Kid (Or Play) Yourselves

The expectations are different now.

It's why, after five losses in its past seven games, the Heat is feeling this sort of hurt.

It's why the doors to the practice facility didn't swing open to the media until 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Mind you, practice started at noon and was initially expected to end an hour later. Wadesponew_2

It's why an old-school, Pat Riley-type two-and-a-half hour practice (with a film session mixed in for good measure) was necessary the night after a 17-point home loss to Denver and a day before the final game prior to the All-Star break.

This team is no longer being held by the standards that sank during last season's disastrous 15-67 campaign. Last time I checked, Luke Jackson, Blake Ahearn, Stephane Lasme, Bobby Jones and Kasib Powell weren't walking through that door.

You get to six games above .500 and a win or so away from being in fourth place in the conference standings, and expectations change. Yes, this season was supposed to be step 1 in a two-year rebuilding job leading into the blockbuster summer of 2010.

But as we saw with the Dolphins, sometimes things get fast-tracked. It's why Riley is itching to make a move for the present, when every bone in his body looks ahead to 2010. While it's unfair to expect this team to be a title contender, as is, it's not out of the question to expect a run to the second round of the playoffs now. And once you get there, who knows?

Who saw the Arizona Cardinals coming on their way to the Super Bowl?

Who saw either Tampa Bay or Philadelphia navigating their way to the World Series?

Who knew that convention speech Barack Obama gave four years ago would open his door to the White House?

And last but not least, who saw Lil' Wayne rapping his way from second-string status with Cash Money Records to Grammy-winning performer? And that may be the biggest upset of them all.

Sure, .500 may be as good as it gets for the Heat this season. But you'll never convince Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade of that. There had to be accountability for Tuesday's blowout loss at home to Denver. And that's why the balls kept bouncing on the practice court until that message was drilled home.

Remember, this is the same team that defended its turf against the Magic, Lakers and Cavaliers.

And that's why expectations are different now.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Snapshots from Media Day (updated)

Update: Former Heat point guard Jason Williams, who was on Miami's 2006 championship team, part of last year's 15-67 debacle and signed with the L.A. Clippers this offseason, announced his retirement Friday.

On the eve of training camp, the Heat held Media Day which provided some news and valuable information and several colorful moments:

*Shawn Marion addressed his contract situation at length but said he would not talk about it again this season. He is "tired" of the business side and insisted he will not let entering the season in the final year of his deal be a distraction. When he arrived in Miami from Phoenix in the Shaquille O'Neal deal he was bothered that his name had surfaced in trade rumors, but said he went into this past offseason knowing his name would pop up since he had the option to opt out of the final year of his contract.

Marion said he recognizes he could be part of trade speculation this season but is trying to view it as a compliment. "I guess I am a wanted player."

Marion is sporting a mohawak. "I came out here for Zo and Wade's Summer Groove and I was like, I'm going to do something different. It's summer. I had my barber cut a little mohawk. I look with it, so why not?"

*The Heat and forward Kasib Powell reached a mutual agreement to release him from his qualifying offer.

*Forward Udonis Haslem, who has a sprained left big toe, said he hopes to be back on the court in about a week. He said he's making progress after having to wear a protective boot. Haslem invited the competition at starting forward, saying he wants to "fight" for the job and does not just want to be given it.

*Forward Dorell Wright said he is trying to be patient as he continues working his way back from knee surgery.

He said he is trying to follow his doctor's advice and that of close friend Dwyane Wade.

"He tells me all the time to take your time and make sure you're 100 percent before you go out there," Wright said of Wade's advice. "Otherwise you'll be in the same position."

Wright recognizes that missing part or all of training camp could be costly because he is vying for playing time on a crowded perimeter, but is not healthy enough to play right now.

*Point guard Chris Quinn said Dwyane Wade has asserted himself as the team leader, "Everyone knows he's our leader."

*Rookie forward Michael Beasley was engaging and funny, showing his more serious side at times, but also his fun-loving side.

Asked whether he likes all the attention since leaving Kansas State after his freshman year, he said: "No not all."

It's been difficult to handle?

“Maybe,” Beasley said.

Have you enjoyed the ride?

“I’ve enjoyed the ride maybe because I’ve got a new ride,” he said.

Wade said Beasley has no idea how good he is, does that resonate? with you "It makes me feel good. You just made my day that much better, thank you Dwyane and Mr. Reporter Guy."

At one point a seemingly half-joking Beasley loudly asked when Media Day would be over, telling a Heat PR representative he was hungry and wanted a cookie.

*Rookie point guard Mario Chalmers, an Alaska native, weighed in on Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin: "I really don't know her that well personally. I just know a couple things about what she has done around Alaska. I don't care for her too much."



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