Saturday the Heat completed their final practice of training camp up in Fort Walton. From all the reports that we heard up there, Heat fans have a lot to be excited about. The concerns of having a bunch of new players not ‘gelling' seems to be moot, though we'll get a better idea of things when they actually take the court against another team.
That will come on Tuesday night when the e HHeat host the Pistons at the AAA. I think I've been to one preseason game there and I'm sure it compared to preseason games everywhere. Half-full arenas, crowd leaves early, nobody really into the game...the usual. That wont be the case on Tuesday though. It's going to be a packed house all the way up to the 400 level.
Before we get into the preseason and starting thinking about ‘real' games, I want to highlight what went on at the end of training camp. One thing that I thought was funny was how at the beginning of camp there were 75 members of the press and yesterday that number was down to 9.
Eddie House sat out practice on Friday to rest a bit after having a couple procedures during the offseason, but he returned to join the final session on Saturday. He had a bone spur removed from his left shoulder and repaired a small tear in his labrum.
He went through all of last season dealing with the pain and putting off the surgeries, but now it's just a matter of getting back to 100%, which he isn't far of from. I really anxious to see how he is received by Heat fans during home games; he was a big time fan favorite during his first tenure with Miami and I'm curious to see if that carries over.
Along with House, Kenny Hasbrouck and Mario Chalmers were also on the injury side of things on Friday. Kenny was dealing with a hurt thigh and was limited in practice while Rio tweaked his hurt left ankle and sat out the 2nd portion of practice. House and Chalmers both returned to practice on Saturday while Hasbrouck was the only player to sit out.
If you remember, last season around this time the Heat coaching staff wasn't too pleased with the shape and conditioning of their team. That is far from the case this year. All the players are in great shape even rookie Dexter Pittman has pleased Miami coaches with his dedication to drop weight.
In high school he weighed close to 400 pounds but dropped over 60 of them during his four seasons at the University of Texas. He didn't stop there and is now down to 290, but the Heat would like him to weigh 270 when the regular season rolls around.
Along with all the work and exercise the rookie center is putting in, Pittman has turned to Udonis Haslem for help with his diet. Haslem weighed over 300 pounds after he finished college in 2002 and was cut during the 02-03 preseason by the Atlanta Hawks. He then signed with a team in France and lost over 70 pounds before returning to the US and earning a spot in the summer league. He was then signed by the Heat and the rest is history.
The overall feeling from the team regarding their week of training camp up in Fort Walton is a very good one. It helped the new teammates to bond and get to know each other, but the cool thing is that they were in an environment where giving 100% and working together is essential.
LeBron may have said it best:
"It's probably one of the best training camps I've had. It might be the best."
The Heat will return to practice on Monday at the AAA in preparation for their first preseason game Tuesday night against Detroit. Tip-off is set for 7:30 and the game will be broadcast locally on Sun Sports, which means that even those of you who live outside of South Florida can still very likely find an online feed.
Also, immediately following the game Sun Sports will have their season premiere of Inside the Heat. The Emmy-award winning show will kick off their 2010-11 campaign with ‘Championship DNA'. It chronicles the off-season and how the team came to be. For a sneak peek of the show, click here.