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Drive to succeed - New additions embrace Heat will to win

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Recently signed players, along with Tyler Johnson, display their commitment to learn the Heat system.


On a hot August day, and almost three months before the tip-off of the NBA season, several newly minted additions to the roster work on earning their spots in the Miami Heat rotation. Tyler Johnson joins in to bring his game to the next level after missing most of last season. The bonding process begins.

Working together for the first time as a team, Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson, and Dion Waiters spent the day, from morning to dusk, learning more about each other and the staff. Earlier, Rodney McGruder, Okaro White and Stefan Jankovic were pictured at the facility putting in their time studying the system.

Afterwards what happens outside of the gym counts as much, if not more, than what goes on inside. The staff learns about the men behind the numbers: who they were, who they are, and where they want to go. The players get a feeling of how the coaches operate and the nuances of the Heat's choreography. They develop the trust factor between them that's so important during games when the success, or failure, of each one depends on the other.

They came from the streets of Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the suburbs of Philly, Washington, D.C., Tampa, Florida, and the vastness that is North Dakota, to unite in Miami and carry on a winning culture. For most, the journey to the postseason begins here and now in the incubator of a downtown gym.

Both Ellington and Waiters suffered personal losses from shootings in Philadelphia: Wayne lost his father and Dion, his younger brother. Now they are teammates in South Florida, sharing another common goal in basketball. Their roots, which began in the Philadelphia area, eventually have them joining forces far away from home in a sweaty practice court.

Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are a magnet for trade rumors, because that's what he does. Meanwhile, sweating in the gym, Derrick Williams is trying to live up to his reputation as someone "with the strength of a power forward and the ball-handling and shooting skills of a guard," which he had in college.

Miami may already have the talent it needs as its players spend countless hours mastering their craft. Rich Medina recalls spending his time in the hip-hop culture lifestyle to help mold a community and pay his bills through the mastery of his craft.

He uses a term, pressure creates diamonds, which describes what the Heat's basketball culture tries to achieve in downtown Miami and on the road.

These seven men have already displayed their willingness to put in the time and effort way ahead of training camp. Should Chris Bosh be able to take the court in October, the Heat would become serious contenders in the East. Once the rest of the squad arrives, the familiarity from the August sessions will carry over into October to form a well-oiled machine.