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Miami Charity Game Surpasses Hype

With the NBA lockout providing plenty of uncertainty for the fans, Miami fans stood in the rain to watch the South Florida All-Star Classic at the U.S. Century Bank Arena at Florida International University. They got their money’s worth Saturday night.

Michael Laughlin, Sun Sentinel / October 8, 2011In a competitive exhibition game that featured defense, Team Wade defeated Team LeBron in overtime, 141-140. Carmelo Anthony nailed a 3-pointer for Team Wade with 2.9 seconds left to go in regulation to tie the game, and Dwyane Wade made a couple free-throws to ice the game with seconds remaining in the extra period. LeBron James swished a half-court shot as time expired.

For much of the last few minutes of the game, Wade defended James, who is four inches taller than him. The game had the feel of a regular season game, with players arguing with officials, Chris Bosh delivering a spin and a power dunk and Wade blocking an attempt from James in the first quarter. Perhaps no one should be surprised that the game more than lived up to the hype when considering that Wade went through his normal pre-game routine and James saying that he has worked hard all summer long and will always be ready for the season to start.

In addition to Wade and Anthony, Team Wade also featured Chris Paul, Amar’e Stoudemire, former Heat players Dorell Wright and Caron Butler, Heat restricted free agent Mario Chalmers, John Wall and James Harden. Joining James' team were teammate Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Johnny Flynn, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, former Heat player Damon Jones, Tristan Thompson and Jamal Crawford.

This charity game generated $100,000 for the Mary Court’s foundation in honor of FIU coach Isaiah Thomas’ mother. Half of that sum will go to FIU’s scholarship fund.

Udonis Haslem coached Team LeBron, playfully jawing with Team Wade coach Kevin Hart throughout the game. James Jones did not play, but attended the game and received applause upon introduction. Eddy Curry, a free agent who Pat Riley may sign once the lockout ends, was on the initial roster but did not arrive in Miami. ESPN’s Heat Index writer Mike Wallace speculated that perhaps Riley told Curry to lay low so he can sign him without competition.

With the NBA almost certain to cancel the first two weeks of the regular season Monday, South Florida fans don’t know when they’ll see top-level basketball talent again. But with them chanting "Let’s Go Heat" after the buzzer sounded, they made their voices heard.