Miami Heat start new chapter
MIAMI (AP) – A fifth Eastern Conference championship banner already sways from the rafters of the arena that the Miami Heat call home, the list of Southeast Division titles has been updated and Gabrielle Union watched from courtside for the first time as Mrs Dwyane Wade.
Of course, those weren’t the only changes.
The new chapter of Heat basketball – the post-LeBron James era – went on public display for the first time last night, with nary a mention of the player who wore No. 6 in Miami for the last four seasons.
The Heat held their annual open scrimmage for fans, simulating a game and combining the programme with a tribute to breast cancer survivors.
“We are very excited about this upcoming season,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the crowd just before tipoff. “We had a terrific training camp this past week. These guys are working extremely hard. Let’s kick off a great season tonight. Heat Nation ain’t going anywhere.”
Miami’s preseason opener is Saturday in Louisville against New Orleans. The Heat will play Cleveland in Brazil on October 11, which will be a circuslike exhibition because it will pit James against Miami, even if only in an exhibition setting.
So while much has changed for a Heat franchise that will try for a fifth straight East title this season, plenty has remained constant.
Wade and Mario Chalmers hugged about three dozen breast cancer survivors who were brought to the floor at half-time, then were joined by Norris Cole, Chris Andersen and many other players and coaches.
Those women were saluted loud and long, as were a pair of Heat additions – former rivals Luol Deng and Danny Granger, both of whom addressed the crowd during stoppages in the first half.