Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Just Another Day of Work (Not!)

Only one word truly describes how today played out as the Heat's beat writer for the Miami Herald. Wade-Face

Crazy. Well, maybe I could find another that would fit just as well. Amazing.

Somewhere between agonizing and exhilarating was where I could be found from the moment I got my first call of the day Wednesday morning with a tip that something big was going down in Miami.

Turns out, the Heat not only got a major commitment from Dwyane Wade, there was also the accompanying news that he will partner with Chris Bosh in Miami for the next five or six seasons.

That's two of the top three free agents on the greatest market in NBA history who ended up with the Heat. There's still one big fish out there - LeBron James, who will announce his decision at 9 p.m. Thursday.

But Wednesday might have been one of the most thrilling days in four seasons on the Heat beat. Let's recap.

6:47 a.m. - First text from a league source buzzes the cell phone, indicating that some big news could be coming down for the Heat, with a potential double commitment from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The process of trying to confirm this info begins, as does the day for our 11-month-old light sleeper in the room.

7:15 a.m. - First calls go out to Heat execs, agents and player sources to see if the tip indeed is legit. Understandably, it's hard to reach folks at that time on the east coast, let alone anywhere else in the country.

7:32 a.m. - Turn on the TV, ESPN. See/hear Chris Broussard on the Mike and Mike Show, breaking down the exact same info - reporting it as fact: That D-Wade and Chris Bosh were a done deal in Miami. Thinking to myself, this could or couldn't be legit. After all, I kept thinking about how my man Broussard reported as fact that Wade, Bosh and LeBron were having their pow wow in Miami two weekends ago. Only, I was in Chicago with D-Wade at the time, and LeBron, it was later determined, was in New York.

7:47a.m. - Tweet that ESPN is reporting Bosh and Wade a done deal in Miami, still unable to secure reliable sources just yet as I wait on return phone calls.

7:50 a.m. - Start to file a story for the Herald's web site that lays out the details of the Bosh-Wade pairing in Miami. Details are breaking nationally, but, in an effort to make sure facts are straight, still not quite ready to confirm the story through independent sources.

8:03 a.m. - Politely turn down the first of dozens of interview requests from radio stations from South Florida to San Antonio to Chicago to New York. The adrenaline rush begins at this point. Ask the wife if she could handle dropping off our youngster, because it's going to be a hectic day. She says Yes. I've got the next drop-off and pick-up Thursday.

8:30 a.m. - Time to get dressed, showered and headed over to Nova Southeastern University, figuring I'd better make a run at Dwyane Wade while he's at his youth basketball camp.

9:40 a.m. - Get to Wade's camp, bypass reporters waiting on ground floor and proceed upstairs to gym area where Wade is meeting with relatives and friends. Politely asked to leave, since other reporters have already been told to go downstairs.

9:52 a.m. - Run into two Wade family sources who confirm that he's coming back - and that Bosh is joining him. They believe Bosh might be headed to Miami later Wednesday for a potential press conference. Details still sketchy.

10:01 a.m. - After conversation, posts Twitter update with the independent confirmation needed to give legs to our local story. The Heat has its men. At least two of them. Call Herald editor Jorge Rojas and dictate what I've got. Reach out to two teams that have been courting Bosh to see if they've heard the same thing. Positive response from one, negative from the other.

10:30 a.m. - The wait for Wade begins. First camp session nearing an end. Figuring Wade will talk to assembled reporters soon. Figured Wrong.

11:30 a.m. - Figuring Wade probably has plotted a back-way escape from the gym and wouldn't dare walk through the massive lobby to get to his vehicle. So the search for rear exits begins. Locate Wade's white luxury vehicle in the Arena's loading dock area, right beside ESPN trucks.

11:48 a.m. - Something's fishy. Then rumors start to fly that ESPN will be broadcasting an announcement from Wade's camp at 12:30. Assured by league sources that it's all legit and that the only hangup on Bosh's end is whether Toronto is going to accept Miami's sign-and-trade offer so dude can get his extra $30 million on a six-year contract, instead of $96 million over five years.

11:59 a.m. - Female campus staffers and food service employees taking booty-pose photos next to Wade's super-clean white Maybach. Even Wade's whip proves to be the ultimate chick magnate, I guess.

12:05 p.m. - Campus security escorts media members waiting in the gym lobby out of the facility, with ESPN officials moving in to set up for the exclusive interview with Wade. Media members then asked to leave the campus completely. Meanwhile, I'm around back in the loading dock stairway, staking out Wade's car and trying to blend in with either students or lawn maintenance crew.

12:15 p.m. - Get call from Cleveland source close to LeBron, asking is Miami ready for the LeBron circus to come to Miami now that Bosh and Wade are committed. Also hear that Bron might be making plans to fly to South Florida on Wednesday night for dinner with Wade. Tweet that it could be "blockbuster info" or complete "B.S." You know how Twitter is. It's about as reliable as the outer layers of Bron's inner circle.

Bosh screaming 12:23 p.m. - Get call from Chris Bosh's rep, saying he'd be willing to offer me first local interview after ESPN deal is through. Since I'm getting Bosh, might as well let Wade's crew know I'm out there waiting by his car, so I can talk to him too.

12:30 p.m. - Wade and Bosh interviewed by ESPN, with Wade in gym and Bosh on location in Dallas. Can't tell what's going on because I'm still laying out. But I do hear the ESPN techs being as giddy as freshmen at a college frat party.

12:35 p.m. - Damn. Cell phone's dying. See a Nova student standing nearby and ask if I can use his phone. Tell him I've got Chris Bosh calling in a few minutes and my battery is going out. Turns out, the student is an intern with a local TV station, posing as a student to get past security. Wearing a Heat T-shirt and a backpack, my new partner, Jeff Feibelman, gladly offers his iPhone for the mission. "You mean The Chris Bosh is really going to call my phone?" asks Fiebelman, a lifelong Heat fan. "Come on man, stop kidding."

"Dude," I said. "Just give me your number before we miss the call, before my phone completely dies."

12:37 p.m. - In middle of conversation with Herald photographer, my cell dies. Luckily, moments earlier, I had given Bosh's peeps the number to Jeff's phone. Now, I'm Starsky. He's Hutch.

12:45 p.m. - Bosh calls for exclusive with Miami Herald. Thanks Toronto for developing him into a star player. Talks about decision-making process en route to Miami, says Spoelstra will remain coach and that Pat is determined to go after LeBron now that Bosh and Wade are in tow.

12:58 p.m. - Transcribe Bosh interview on laptop, posts Twitter updates with major quotes from Bosh.

1:20 p.m. - Thank Jeff for his tour of duty, hand the kid back his phone, and head into gym to search for Wade. Jeff has one request. "Can you give me a shoutout in your story?" Not quite. But we'll figure something out. So here you go, Jeff. I owe this kid a lunch somewhere. I've been blessed and lucky.

2:00 p.m. - Catch Wade coming out of luxury suite, where his family and inner circle are now in full force waiting in the hospitality area. Wade steps out to get away for a moment and collects his thoughts. "Glad this part of it is over," Wade said.

2:30 p.m. - Thankfully, there's a Starbucks in this joint. I'm running on fumes. After six updates to the day's online version of the story and countless tweets along the way, it's been an amazing day. The Heat got their men. I did my part to bring you the Herald's version of the biggest story of the day in the NBA. A total team approach.

2:52 p.m. - Check in with a couple of Wade's key peeps on the way out. Thank them for the updates throughout this crazy free agency process.

3:02 p.m. - Head to the parking deck. Thank God Almighty there's no ticket for a parking violation after rushing in there five hours earlier to make sure I wouldn't miss Wade.

3:04 p.m. - With no cell phone service and my computer battery drained, flip on the iPod and hear Ice Cube's 'Today Was A Good Day' lyrics. Fitting. Hit the ignition, and catch the end of The Sports Brothers show on 790 The Ticket on the drive home. That's fam there.

(Updated) 7:33 p.m. - Just got the request from Stephen A. Smith to come on his show Thursday morning. Glad to do it. I might owe that brother an apology for doubting his call on this potential Wade-Bosh-Bron trilogy. And I might not end up being the only one to do so.

In many ways, an amazing day was just coming to an end. Then again, in this 24-hour news cycle, it was just beginning, considering the updates needed to the final version of the story before the day was done.

Like I said, just another day on the Heat beat.

Peace Out.

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

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Day Of Heat, Haiti and Healing

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti - First and foremost, I'd like to thank the Heat and Project Medishare for allowing a select group of IMG00027 newspaper and television reporters to take part in a remarkable day of service, sacrifice and stunning scenes from Haiti.

There's no way to compare catastrophic tragedy and measure the impact of natural disasters. But what I witnessed in Port Au Prince on Saturday - six months after the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti - reminded me a lot of the heartache, suffering and sadness that followed Hurricane Katrina.

I've now had a ground zero experience with both, and it is something I won't forget for the rest of my life.

There was a lot of good Saturday that emerged amid the rubble of a nation still staggering from the earthquake. There was hope amid the hopelessness. The Heat donated $25,000 through its charitable fund to Project Medishare's effort to build/renovate a hospital that would move patients from tents to a structured facility.

Among the highlights from the trip ...

--Before the flight to Port Au Prince departed from Miami, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra addressed his role within the organization for the first time since team president Pat Riley left the door open for a possible return to coaching last month.

Spoelstra said he was given assurances from both Riley and Heat owner Micky Arison that he would be back next season as the Heat's coach.

"I didn't take the way everybody else took it," Spoelstra said of Riley's suggestion that he might be open to Spoelstra-Yellow returning to the bench if a prominent free agent made it a condition of signing with the Heat. "I can see how it's portrayed out there in the media. But I didn't really take it personally. Nothing's changed."

Spoelstra said part of working for "a Hall of Fame presence" in Riley is having to deal with the conjecture.

"He and Micky have given me assurances, but it's not needed," Spoelstra said. "And I've told them that."

--Project Medishare co-founder Dr. Barth Green posted up with Alonzo Mourning in the G concourse as medical supplies and staffers were being gathered for the trip Saturday. With Mourning by his side, Green discussed how the non-profit organization would use donations such as the $25,000 the Heat generated from funds raised during the team's annual family festival.

"This week, we're moving to a hospital we spent the last several weeks fixing up," Green said. "We've got state-of-the-art operating rooms. We're moving all of the supplies and will have the only ICU facility in the region. We're increasing the capacity and will be operating a 90-bed critical care hospital."

Green went on to lay out the broader plan for Project Medishare, which is to ultimately train Haitian medical staffers to run the hospitals and clinics once the buildings are restructured.

--Once Vision flight 401 touched ground at Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport, new Heat Community and Corporate Liaison Tim Hardaway was in a full sweat preparing for a day of hospital visits and touring of the region's hardest-hit areas.

"This is something that's not only needed for the people of Haiti, but also for people who might take for granted some of the things they have in life," Hardaway said. "The Heat organization and a lot of people in South Florida have a close connection with the people over here. Hopefully we can help affect peoples lives down here in a positive way, even if it's just for a day."

--In addition to Spoelstra, Mourning and Hardaway, Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay made the trip. IMG00020 Gay, a close friend of Dwyane Wade, contributed to the $1 million Wade and Mourning raised through pledges earlier this year for Haiti relief.

Gay said he wanted to do more than support the cause financially. "I wanted to come down here and see what it was all going to," Gay said. "Some of the things I'll do today, I'll keep with me the rest of my life."

On another note, Gay will be a restricted free agent on July 1. He got a close-up look at how the Heat operates on a community level and even took a couple of the tampering jokes in stride. One of the funnier moments from the trip came when Gay had to quickly duck out before a publicity photo was snapped in which Mourning, Spoelstra and Hardaway presented the Heat's $25,000 check to Project Medishare.

--On a final note from the day-long mission, Mourning left lasting impressions on just about every Zo Photo child he touched and every adult patient who clamored to touch him. As great a basketball player as Mourning was during what should be a Hall-of-Fame career, he's already eclipsed the marks he made on the court with his philanthropic deeds off the hardwood. He's putting muscle behind his money.

The demands on this man's time have to be overwhelming, but he still shows up whenever he's called to Haiti. This was his fourth trip to the country - and he was one of the first public figures on the ground days after the earthquake hit on Jan. 12.

"There's always more you can do," Mourning said as the delegation boarded the flight back to Miami after six hours of the ground in Haiti. "For me, for all of you, for a lot of people involved with this, the work is far from finished."

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 87, Nets 84

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It had the potential for disaster. Jermaine O'Neal left in the first two minutes ofNets-Heat-HarrisMain the game with a back strain. Dwyane Wade followed five minutes later with a strained calf. And Rafer Alston also left the game for an extended stretch with a bruised hand.

"We had every possible excuse," coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward.

It had all of the makings of a horrible night for the Heat. But Michael Beasley and Quentin Richardson rescued Miami and rallied the team to an 87-84 victory over the lowly Nets on Wednesday at IZOD Center.

Under normal circumstances, this night would have been all about discussing how Beasley stepped into the starring role and came up with major buckets on the way to a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds in perhaps his best performance of the season. But his best play of the game came on that rejection of Kris Humphries' layup with 30 seconds left in the game.

Beasley was huge. But the story beyond the story is about the status of Wade, who left the arena in a walking boot and saying he "felt something pop" in his lower left leg after grabbing a first-quarter rebound.

Wade feared the worst initially. And the Nets doctors told him he could be out far longer than he really wants to be, although the Heat did not offer a time frame, other than to say he's day-to-day. Wade is almost certainly done for the rest of this four-game trip, which wraps up Friday in Memphis and Saturday in Dallas.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade's night ended very early after he came down awkwardly seven minutes into the game. Wade went up for a rebound, came down without contact, dribbled twice and grimaced in severe pain. He left the game moments later and headed directly to the locker room. Wade had eight points on 2 of 4 shooting from the field. He made 4 of 5 free throws and got three rebounds and an assist in 7 minutes, 26 seconds. Wade's eight-point effort ended an impressive streak of double-figure scoring games. He had set career and franchise records by scoring double figures in 148 consecutive games. The only player who had a longer streak was LeBron James. Wade is expected to miss his first games of the season.

TURNING POINT: The Heat was down 80-74 with three minutes left, but rallied to outscore the Nets 13-2 Nets-Heat-Main over the next two minutes. Beasley started the run with a driving layup and sweet jumper off the glass. Quentin Richardson delivered a dagger of a three-pointer after that, and it was on.

WINNING EDGE: The Nets were held to 37 percent shooting overall, and a 1-of-15 clip from three-point range. They became the fourth straight opponent the Heat has held to under 40 percent shooting from the field. The Heat's last two opponents are a combined 2 of 27 from three-point range.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: What in the world would make Nets officials think it's a good idea to toss burritos into the crowd as if they were T-shirts? That's exactly what happened in the first quarter of Wednesday's game, coincidentally, moments after Wade left the game with a calf injury. The Nets are bad enough this season to watch on an empty stomach, let alone one filled with black beans, guacamole and cheese. Other than that, you had to wonder what was going on when O'Neal left the game two minutes after tip-off with a mysterious back injury. The first think that came to mind was that it might have been an Amare-induced injury. You know, something that tends to happen when trades go down while a game is in progress. It went on around the league Wednesday, with Bulls guard John Salmons left at the team hotel instead of playing at New York, and Knicks guard Nate Robinson suddenly stricken with the flu as New York and Boston worked to finalize a trade. But then, J.O. came back.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: With Wade out and O'Neal limited, this was the ultimate breakout-game opportunityBEASLEY_MICHAEL for Michael Beasley. He stepped up and delivered a brilliant all-around game. Beasley was 10 of 17 from the field and had 23 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He had a monster rejection that prevented a go-ahead layup with 30 seconds left in the game. Beasley was beaming with confidence after the game, going as far as to say that the Heat's win "shut a lot of people up" who have doubted Wade's supporting cast. These were the Nets after all. But there was no need to ruin the kid's post-game buzz. Still, it was a major, breakthrough-type performance for Beasley. Richardson also came up big, with 16 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.

NEXT UP: Heat at Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m. Friday - FedEx Forum

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Carlos, Comebacks & SuperCoolBeas

Clearing out the mind and notebook as the flight to Wednesday’s Heat-Thunder preseason game reaches cruising altitude. Consider it the misdirection exhibition tour.


After the game in Tulsa against Oklahoma City, the Heat heads to Kansas City to play New Orleans. Go figure. Still trying to figure out how last preseason offered a trip to Paris and London and this year counters with Tulsa and Kansas City. Again, go figure.


THE ARROYO-AL TREATMENT: There was a slice of it after Tuesday’s practice, when new Heat Carlos Arroyo guard Carlos Arroyo had what amounted to his own personal media day The Puerto Rico native and former FIU standout signed with the Heat on Monday.


TV, radio and newspaper reporters from Spanish media outlets engulfed Arroyo after Tuesday’s practice. Considering the market, there was a genuine excitement and interest. Arroyo is believed to be the first native Spanish-speaking player in Heat history. And who said his signing with the Heat wouldn’t have an impact on and off the court?


“It’s been great,” Arroyo said of the reaction. “It’s an honor to be here and to be home.”


BEASLEY’S WIN-WIN-WIN SITUATION: Count forward Michael Beasley among Heat players Beasley Interview who believe Arroyo is just the sort of addition second-year starting point guard Mario Chalmers needed. With a savvy, proven veteran to contend with in practice every day, Chalmers gets a taste of what Beasley goes through with Udonis Haslem.


“Some of the guys who have been in here – not to downgrade guys, but – (Chalmers) has been a landslide better than them,” Beasley said of a group that has consisted of Chris Quinn, Marcus Banks, Shaun Livingston, Luther Head and current camp hopeful John Lucas. “Carlos can do it all. (Chalmers) not only has somebody to go head to head against, but somebody to look up to and to learn from.”


WADE AND SEE: Dwyane Wade acknowledged Tuesday that his current rib strain is near the same spot as the injury he sustained during the 2004-05 season that lingered into the playoffs. But Wade said this recent ailment pales in comparison to the anguish he felt four years ago.


“If it was that bad, I wouldn’t even be out here,” Wade said after practice. “I wouldn’t even be trying to play.” Wade worked out extensively the past two days, with a focus on conditioning. He essentially wore a “yellow jersey” in scrimmage sessions, meaning he was completely off limits for contact. Wade said he would consider wearing protective padding around his rib cage if he plays this week. From the sounds of Tuesday’s practice, Wade, at best, might appear in one game and skip the other.


SPARRING SESSION: Jermaine O’Neal said he expects to play the back-to-back set against the Thunder and Hornets after he missed the previous two games with a bruised foot. O'NEAL_JERMAINE


There is absolutely nothing he could face in those games more demanding and brutal than the low-post sparring sessions he’s had after practice against assistant coach Keith Askins. Make that Askins and two huge, thick “bash pads” Askins basically used as weapons to pound on O’Neal as he practiced low-post scoring moves. O’Neal managed to hold his own at times, but Askins did little to hurt his reputation as “Kick Ass-kins.”


“It’s a different kind of conditioning in here,” O’Neal said. “I look forward to getting back on the court and getting my timing and everything back.”


FUNNY EXCHANGE: Beasley, if nothing else, is still providing the comic relief. Before Sunday’s game against San Antonio, Beasley and Yakhouba Diawara had a hilarious exchange. Beasley picked on Diawara because of his deep French accent. Diawara, a Pepperdine grad, shot back: “I’m an educated man. Put Pepperdine against wherever you went, college dropout. Did you even stay long enough to major?”


Beasley, who spent one season at Kansas State before leaving to become the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, didn’t hesitate. “Yeah, I had a major. My major was Bucketology. You don’t know about that. I mastered in getting buckets.”


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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer of Elightenment

Yes, the wait for Lamar Odom on the free-agent front continues for the Miami Heat.

No, not everyone in the organization is sitting around waiting on pins and needles for that decision. SPO-Coach

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is half a world away in the Philippines, in the midst of a near two-week trip to his mother's homeland to conduct clinics and basketball camps with the country's youth. Spoelstra, 38, returned to the Philippines for the first time in 35 years.

Had a chance to catch up with the soon-to-be second-year Heat coach during a conference call Thursday morning. It was 10 a.m. on this end, but it was 10 p.m. where Spoelstra was speaking from a dinner meeting with various dignitaries and basketball officials.

The conference call was set up under one condition by the Heat: That Spoelstra wouldn't have to address the free-agency frenzy that has engulfed the team amid its wait for the Odom situation to be resolved.

Instead, Spoelstra talked at length about how enlightening this trip has been for him, given the chance he's had to reconnect with one side of his roots some 6,000 miles away. Spoelstra is the first coach in NBA history to be of Filipino heritage. Spo hasn't reached Manny Pacquiao level when it comes to the natives. But he's gaining ground. Especially after this trip, where he's been on the go teaching and inspiring both young and old from 7 a.m. until nearly midnight each day.

"I have a great deal of pride about my heritage," Spoelstra said. "I've been able to reconnect with family, some I haven't seen since I was three years old. To be able to come here - 6,000 miles away is a special feeling."

Spoelstra made the trip with Heat assistant coaches Dave Fizdale and Chad Kammerer. They've crossed the country to speak to government officials and instruct youth, college and pro basketball players. Spoelstra has chronicled the trip in blog entries posted on the Heat's web site. One of the things that surprised Spoelstra the most was the knowledge of the NBA at every age over there.

"They know about the (Heat's) free agent possibilities and trades," Spoelstra said. "So we started asking them questions. Who has the most titles among NBA players? One kid raised his hand and said, 'Bill Russell.' Another said, 'He has 11.' We were blown away by that."

Spoelstra and the staff are scheduled to return to Miami on Aug. 3 to oversee another set of intensive offseason workouts for the Heat's younger players. The team already completed one session earlier this month. 

"The guys are coming back the first week of August ready to work," Spoelstra said.

Maybe there will be a Lamar resolution, with Odom in tow by then. 

Then again, at this rate, maybe not. 

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @



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