Posted on: October 25, 2010 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2010 7:13 pm

Heat Stroke: If Heat lose to C's, drinks for free

Bar offers to pay tab if Heat lose. Put cart miles and miles before the confetti-covered horse. Posted by Matt Moore

Making your way with the Heat today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries, like Joel Anthony's shot. Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go...

Where the bartender pays your way... as long as the Heat win the day. You want to be where you can see Wade's hamstring looks the same. You want to go where you don't have to pay your way.

Okay, I'm done. So there's this bar in South Beach. And tomorrow, if the Heat lose to the Celtics? They'll pay your tab, up to $25 . So if the team that's been together four months, without their designated shooter, with two players having had injuries in preseason, lose to the defending Eastern Conference champions featuring four Hall of Famers and an all-world defense, you get your beers for free. Note to owners: Do not let hobos find out about this deal. It's a great promotional tactic, but if the Heat win, are they going to keep this up until the Heat lose? Have we mentioned they're in Boston tomorrow night? Because they're in Boston tomorrow night.

Well, as long as we're not getting ahead of ourselves, Miami.

Posted on: October 22, 2010 11:15 am

Heat Stroke:LeBron empathizes with fans, kind of

LeBron James empathizes with fans' anger, then wipes out any good will acquired by insinuating they should "get over it," then denies on Twitter. Good times.
Posted by Matt Moore

It had to happen sometime. Eventually, LeBron James was going to have to address Cleveland's fans and their visceral reaction to his departure for Southern skies. He was going to have to comment on them and how they feel about him now. Which is to say, he was going to have to comment on the fact that they hate his guts beyond belief. So he did. It did not go well. Here's what James told the ESPN Heat Index's Brian Windhorst about the fans in Cleveland:

"If I was a fan and I was on the outside looking in, I could be upset a little bit if one of my favorite players left," James said. "Or if I felt like he betrayed us or whatever the case may be. But you have to get over it . (Note: Emphasis ours. -Ed.) "
So that definitely comes across as telling Cleveland fans to get over him abandoning them for another team on national television, adding insult to injury, and crushing both their best-contending team and a significant portion of their economy (estimates of up to $250 million per year). Which, you know, probably won't go over well. James, though, was quick to jump on Twitter and backtrack from that sentiment immediately.

So he was just talking about what he would do? I'm confused. Because that quote looks really hard to get around the fact that it sounds like he's talking about Cleveland fans. James went on to explain the gap between the people rooting for laundry, and those that have to wear it.
"Sports are very emotional and fans are very emotional," James said. "At times they really believe you may be related to them you and you sleep in their house. When you do something wrong and you leave their house they can become very emotional. I've understood that over the years. But at the same time, you have to understand you have to do what is best yourself."
James is sounding pretty hurt by all this hatred lately. As I've said before, anger is not really his bag . But for all those that think he didn't care about Cleveland or its fans at all, they should rethink that sentiment. He did make connections there. It was hard for him to leave. He saw an opportunity, and he took it. Maybe it wasn't the "right" thing to do but it was what he felt was right for him, and it's his job, his career, his life. Those of us who are only criticizing him out of our own misguided sense of morality probably should "get over it."

But Cleveland? Nah. They have earned the right to stay mad for as long as they want. That's their right as fans.
Posted on: October 19, 2010 2:36 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 2:43 pm

LeBron opens up "Hater Day" on Twitter

Heat Triad superstar opens up "Hater Day" on Twitter, laughing at opponents. We all want to know where the anger is, despite never having evidence it's there at all. Posted by Matt Moore

No, seriously, LeBron James is not bothered by your hatred of him. Today on Twitter, James (@KingJames ) took to his plethora of haters, declaring today "Hater Day." He ain't mad at you, though, haters:

This is what's called, playing to the crowd. In the overused-to-a-sickening-degree professional wrestling analogy, this is saying something derogatory about the city you're currently performing in. It's a definite thumb-bite to the plebian crowds throwing tomatoes. And it's also telling.

There's this narrative trying to be built for James where he finally gets angry at everyone hating on him, all the doubters, all the critics, and responds with anger on the floor leading to a dominant stretch. James has bought into this whole thing, talking about "making a list" and being focused on proving people wrong. But this latest gag on Twitter seems more indicative of James' personality. That is, he just doesn't take much seriously. He doesn't have to.

He's a 25 year-old player making $14.5 million dollars this season, $109.8 million total during this contract . He has two sons, now plays in South Beach, parties with Jay-Z, gets financial advice from Warren Buffet, runs clubs like he owns them in Vegas , His life may not be perfect. But it's pretty close. And besides that, James simply isn't disturbed by these things. There's been no evidence of him getting angry with players or personnel. He may sulk, he may disapprove, but anger? It has never been part of the persona he's let us see. If he's capable of genuine anger at any above-normal level, it's never been exhibited. (This in comparison with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett who are essentially two red tea kettles blowing steam on the court constantly.)

Instead James has always reflected a happy go-lucky playful nature. He dances with teammates. He raps on-court (and in the locker room, loudly). He chuckles in interviews and smiles for the camera. This man is not a brooder. Even after a Finals loss and subsequent ejections in the playoffs, including the Conference Finals, James has never lashed out, never kicked an object out of anger, even. Think about that. Dirk Nowitzki has him beat in the "public display of frustration" angle. When the Cavs were ousted by Boston, James hugged KG then took off his jersey for the last time as a Cavalier. This is not a man fueled by rage and hatred, but by one looking to expand his empire and brand.

What's odd is that this is a criticism. If you or I acted like we want start to in our workplaces? We'd get sent home or to anger management classes. We'd question how seriously we take things and try and gain some perspective on what's important in life. But for athletes, we demand more. We demand a thirst for blood, for vengeance. And James has not fulfilled that, not in his play, and not with his actions. We want our player to seethe at the nasty things said to them on Twitter, or ignore them as being above it. Not to indulge in playful banter with them. James is not who we want him to be, and that's really been and continues to be his biggest crime.

Laughing off his haters while he retweets their misdirected, misguided, over-the-top anger towards a man they don't know at all? That's par for the course, and part of the reason his trip to Cleveland on December 2nd is far more dangerous than the media, league, or Heat understand. There's only one thing that makes a brokenhearted, jersey-burning crowd even more angry. When the "traitor" laughs in their face. And that's what will happen. It's just how James is.

Somehow I think "Hater Day" is going to wind up being "Hater Year."

Follow CBSSports NBA on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and subscribe to our RSS feed .

Posted on: October 19, 2010 12:57 pm

Heat Stroke:TNT doesn't travel...except for Heat

Popular studio show goes on the road to cover LeBron as media frenzy continues. Posted by Matt Moore

"Inside the NBA " is arguably the best... no, sorry, it is the best NBA studio show on television. And it's not even close and we all know it. The combination of personality, style, analysis, and discussion that the show puts together is unmatched and it is quite literally must-see TV for any huge NBA fan. And it's almost always held in the comfy confines of the TNT studios, except for All-Star weekend and the Conference Finals.

But then, this is no ordinary season.

TNT has announced that it's taking its show on the road for... you guessed it, two Heat games this year. The crew will be in Boston for the season opener October 26th (only a week you guys!) as Miami faces the Celtics, and they'll travel to Cleveland on December 2nd for the near-riot when LeBron James returns to Cleveland. You can expect a lot of Charles Barkley bad-mouthing LeBron during both of these shows while Kenny Smith probably takes a more eloquent approach at criticism and Ernie laughs slightly uncomfortably.

Of course, for all the talk of how the Miami Triad team-up was bad for the sport, or in poor consideration, or whatever, the fact remains that TNT will still be there, making money off of the public attention garners even as he's hated, as this team continues to crossover into unforseen depths of media focus. It's a cash cow, even if some are slashing at the udders while they milk.
Posted on: October 12, 2010 3:07 pm

Brent Barry lays it out regarding "The Decision"

Former NBA guard and NBATV analyst says he's getting tired of hearing everyone's thoughts on the subject they all say they're sick of.
Posted by Matt Moore

You're probably tired of all the talk of LeBron, already. You were probably worn out on the free agent bonanza well before "The Decision" (but you still tuned in!). But imagine if you were involved in the NBA, worked on NBATV and were a former player. Imagine having to be asked about it every single day for the past three months, while everyone decides to talk about how they too felt that it was gross and not cool at all. Now you've got an idea of what Brent Barry has put up with this summer.

In an interview with NBA blog The No Look Pass, Barry lays out an exactingly well-reasoned approach to the question of talking about "The Decision" and what's worse, LeBron's production or everyone wanting to chime in on the subject:

"I'm actually getting tired of hearing of what everybody thought about it. But I'll give you my two cents' worth. Obviously, the production of it was a little bit too much. I'm still wondering if I'm more upset about the production of the decision part or the post-production in Miami and the show they put in the arena that was a little bit tough to swallow, too. But I don't fault LeBron for doing what it is that he did and wanting to go someplace else and having the opportunity to play with great players. What you kind of play for is to try to win championships and nobody wins them alone. Every year at the end of the season, we talk about great teams and how players step up as role players. Usually the teams in the past 10-15 years it's always been a collection of three or four star players. That's certainly what they have in Miami and they're going to have that for many years to come. We'll see how quickly they can assemble themselves and if they can actually do it in their first year."

Barry's on target here, in a number of ways. For how obnoxious "The Decision" was, hearing everyone constantly reference it and how much it bothered them has become infinitely more annoying. It's like NBA hipsters have taken over the land and are constantly complaining that your parents keep serving them beef. Go somewhere else for dinner, you filthy ruffian! It's also nice to hear Barry, never considered the alpha dog, not taking the easy bait and going after James for "tarnishing his legacy" or whatever ridiculous nonsense is being spouted about a guy who basically just took a different job offer.

Cleveland fans have every right to feel as torn and upset as they want, to constantly revile LeBron for ditching them on national television and damaging their team, their economy, and their self-esteem. But Barry's right in that nothing James is doing is beyond reason or comprehension, and with the season starting, maybe the rest of us should just accept it without admiration and get on to watching the game.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 4:16 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2010 4:21 pm

Heat are all business as team develops

Heat locker room far from playful, players speak of "sacrifice" often as preseason ramps up towards regular season start.
Posted by Matt Moore

It's preseason. Which means that anything that occurs needs to be taken with a grain of salt the size of softball. But there was an overriding feeling you could take from the Heat locker room last Friday, their second preseason game in Kansas City against the Oklahoma City Thunder. If what we're seeing in preseason is any indication, things will not be the same as they were in Cleveland.

Oh, James will still be there. He'll still be torching defenses that are literally powerless to stop him, whipping passes to teammates who now might actually catch and finish off of them. And the egocentricity will still be there. Of that you can be sure. In Kansas City, James' locker room was closest to the door at the furthest edge, not atypical for an NBA starter. Dwyane Wade, out with a hamstring injury, occupied the other end of the bracket. But it was James, only speaking to reporters for a precious few minutes (it is just a preseason game in KC, after all) who loomed. His gear spread out, occasionally shouting rap lyrics as he listened to those gold Dre headphones.

The biggest difference between this Heat locker room and what we saw in Cleveland, though, may be in attitude. The Cavs were consistently discussed as being very loose, very easy going, always joking. The bench famously danced to their opponents' misfortune . Many found it disrespectful, some found it unprofessional. It's possible that the Heat could turn into the same happy go-lucky bunch when they get to know one another better, when there aren't kids scrapping for a final roster spot on a team that could net them a championship their first year in. But there was a very clear sense of the tone of the Heat both in the locker room and on the floor, best summed up by Udonis Haslem before the game.

"From Day 1," Haslem said, "when everyone started to make sacrifices to be a part of this, we understood what it's all about. It's all about business, and everyone coming together for a common goal, to try and win a championship."

That much was clear, even in a preseason game in a non-NBA city. The players aren't robots, it's not a taciturn feel to them when they're on the floor or in the back. Dwyane Wade hung Udonis Haslem's shirt and jeans from a ceiling fan after the game for crying out loud (another indication it is still very much Wade's locker room, despite LeBron's looming presence). Business is probably the most outstanding theme from the sense you take away from this team. Despite the distractions, despite the egos, despite "The Decision," this team focused on executing business. It may have been all fun and games over the summer or in previous years, but the backlash has forged in this team a determination mentally that's been apparent in their brief time on the court. Chris Bosh, after the Heat victory in which he scored 23 points, primarily from the attention drawn by LeBron, also spoke to the level of intensity that's already present with the Heat.

"It is all business," Bosh said. "Everything we do is professional. We handle everything in a professional manner. We practice extremely hard. We work hard in the weight room, in the training room, to prepare us the right way to play. That's the nature of the Heat organization. I think everyone has accepted it and we have that in the back of our minds every time, that we have a lot of expectations on us. And in order to fulfill those expectations we're going to have to work hard and be professional and make sure we get something done and make progress every day."

Bosh said he got over the excitement of playing with Wade and James in training camp. "Once it was business as usual" it was "natural." You have to wonder that in the middle of all the rumored "glorification" of the free agents, if this was the real secret of Pat Riley's success, explaining that his approach is to be professional and reach your goals. Instead of discussions about earning a billion dollars, or playing in this or that city, Riley's approach paid off and so far, it seems to have taken hold. The word sacrifice is spoken often by the Heat, from role players all the way up to the superstars. It's odd to hear it from them after a summer of so many people calling them selfish for leaving their respective teams. But they're very much dedicated to at least talking about it. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said that all three of the Triad superstars came in knowing the sacrifice they were going to have to make. Whether that will translate to the floor and locker room is another question that can only be answered by the grind of the regular season, but it can't be denied that the idea is on their mind. And for now, the team itself hasn't allowed many outside influences to start creeping in.

Two people I talked to close to the situation said that as of yet, James' entourage haven't become integrated with the Heat's organization. They are present, but not overt as some feared they would be. Then again, this is October 11th, not February or April, and things are very much different now than how they will be then. The challenge for the Heat will be to keep themselves invested in that business approach, in the intensity Haslem spoke of, while not grinding themselves into nothing. Maybe simply pulling pranks on teammates like Wade's tilt-a-whirl of Haslem's jeans will keep the team loose enough while it focuses on taking its energy out on the critics who doubt them.

One way or another, this season is setting itself up to reveal a lot not only about LeBron James and his legacy, but about this group of professionals the Heat have surrounded the Triad with. One thing's for sure, with all the hype, talent, attention, criticism and expectations they'll face this year, and despite what they may tell reporters, it won't be business as usual.

Posted on: October 9, 2010 2:31 am
Edited on: October 9, 2010 2:40 am

Udonis Haslem: Heat office linebacker

Heat forward ready to the dirty work on the Heat, just as he always has, despite the critics.
Posted by Matt Moore.

Udonis Haslem has a championship ring. He's a seven year veteran of the NBA, has a great per-minute average (11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds per 36 ) and is the consummate worker. But when people talk about the Heat, the biggest criticisms are of whether they'll be able to defend the post or rebound. This despite Haslem's 16.9 rebounding rate (percentage of all available rebounds collected) which was good enough for eleventh among qualifying power forwards.

In the post? According to Synergy Sports , he held opponents to a 39.2 FG% in the post, good for tenth among players with his number of possessions. That's really good, if you're not great with numbers. Haslem is a tremendous rebounder and low-post defender. And yet the critics remain. Haslem, for one, isn't frustrated by it.

"I'm used to it you know because I always fly under the radar. It's unfortunate because some of those people making those calls are supposed to be experts, but if they were experts, they would know what you know. But my job is not to impress those guys, it's to make this team better. As long as the guys in this organization and the guys I step on the floor with know my importance, that's all that matters."
It's Haslem's understated way that's allowed him to prosper with the Heat his entire career. Despite not having exceptional size or athleticism, Haslem is a productive member of the team, a vital component. As Chris Bosh put it after the Heat's win:

"He just has a great knack for the ball, I don't know how he does it. He does a good job of putting a body on his man and going and get it. Just looking at him lets me know how I need to improve on my rebounding. Just the fact that he knows how to play and that support off the bench, he pushes everybody else, and it's helping us a lot."
That's certainly true. Haslem poured in 17 points, 9 rebounds, and a plus/minus of 15 in 21 minutes Friday, flummoxing the young Thunder frontcourt as he showed off that "knack" time and time again. He worked with Chris Bosh, switching off on the toughest defensive assignments, and was constantly in position. It's this strength of Haslem, the in-between plays, the little things, that make him what could be the X-Factor for the Heat this season, the player that pushes them through when starpower is constrained.

A perfect example was Friday against an amped Thunder team that lead for most of the first quarter. Then Haslem entered and all of a sudden the rim was no longer built with a welcome mat, the rotations were tighter, the defensive communication, much better. After the game, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra described Haslem not as the kind of pure-energy element, but as the basketball version of football's defensive leaders.

"(Udonis) has obviously a toughness and intensity to the way he plays, but a real intelligence defensively. He helps guys out, can make the proper rotations, he makes a lot of things look easy. But it takes a real savvy veteran player to be able to anchor that. I look at him as a linebacker, really making good plays and anchoring the defense."
There will continue to be questions about Haslem, due to his lack of length and the way the Celtics were able to so thoroughly flummox him last season in the playoffs. But that was on a team with limited offensive weapons, something the Heat no longer suffer with. Bosh will knock down the mid-range jumpers, James will do what he does, Miller will stretch the defense from the perimeter, and oh, yeah, there's that Wade guy.

Haslem doesn't think he'll just be called upon for cleanup. He says he understands he'll have to hit from all over the floor and to be ready offensively when called upon.

"There will be shots all over with this team. I have to be comfortable shooting the ball from everywhere. Top of the key, elbow, baseline, whatever the defense gives us. "

But for every bucket he pulls in, the real questions will surround the defense, and if it's getting the job done. Haslem says the key for the good defense the Heat have shown in the first games of preseason will be maintaining the intensity they've had so far.

"You've got to bring that intensity every night. You know, it's easy come out with intensity with the home crowd, and in training camp against each other every day. When we finally get a chance to go against other people, it's easy to have that intensity in those moments."
The NBA is a grind, especially the regular season. The reason so many good teams fall by the wayside during the regular season is because they can't bring it night after night after night, something that Haslem says the Heat are focused on.

"It's going to be tough, but the bottom line is we have to have that mental toughness to go out and play hard every night. Every night's not going to be a good night, our body's not going to feel bad every night. Some nights you're going to be mentally tired. But we have to go out and get after it every night."

There's a lot of newness to the Heat. Players are still figuring things out, trying to understand what goes on night in and night out with one another on the floor. But even with the newer players that have joined the team, Haslem seems to think the changes won't be that severe.

"All these guys are veterans, so we've played together at one time or another. We have great respect for what everyone brings to the table."
It's becoming more clear as this Heat team begins to take shape that as much as the Big 3 will pave the way for the Heat's prosperity, it may be players like Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem that help see them through struggles. Doing the dirty work, making the tough smart plays.

Just like a linebacker.

Posted on: October 6, 2010 1:51 am
Edited on: October 6, 2010 9:41 am

Heat Stroke: Heat-Knicks to go 3D

ESPN plans to broadcast Heat game on ESPN 3D, take overhyped team into overhyped technology scope.
Posted by Matt Moore

Just in case you haven't had enough of the Miami Heat in two dimensions, you'll be able to get them in the third for the first time. The New York Times reports that ESPN will broadcast the first 3D NBA game on December 17th , between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. The network will air the game on their newest venture, ESPN 3D, not to be confused with ESPN 3, their online component, or ESPN 8: The Ocho . From the Times :
Steve Hellmuth, the N.B.A.’s executive vice president for operations and technology, acknowledged that these experiments produced mixed results. He said producers were still determining how best to shoot games in a way that maximized the advantages of the medium. For basketball, Hellmuth said, this would probably mean fewer of the high, wide shots common in standard broadcasts, and more shots from the “low-slash position,” captured from a camera at the corner of the baseline
Oh, so the game will actually have its own look and feel. Neat. We're pretty excited about this. In fact, we've already put together a list of things we're excited to see in 3D for the first time in this game:
  • Carlos Arroyo's strange, carney hands. We think they'll look like tentacles, only not quite Rondo-esque.
  • Dwyane Wade's various sleeves, braces, and wraps. It'll feel like we're so close we can actually smell the hospital.
  • Amar'e Stoudemire's dunks, which we're pretty sure in 3D could actually give viewers PTSD.
  • Mike Miller's hands. After all, maybe in 3D we'll see what's wrong with them that he keeps passing instead of shooting.
  • Mike D'Antoni's mustache. It'll get us ready to eventually see it in the fourth dimension where it belongs, amid the cosmos.
  • Chris Bosh's defense. Maybe it'll seem more real that way.
  • LeBron James' ego. We're hoping the third dimension actually brings it into the physical dimension and it looks like a shadow player playing behind him.
  • Gallinari, because really, what's better than a 3D rooster?
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com