For Love of the Game

February 7 2012, it’s a balmy Florida night but even as I stand amongst a throng of rowdy NBA fans, sweat beading and t-shirts sticking, I still manage to stay cool. I am not bothered by the humidity because I know that in less than one hour the Miami Heat will take to the hardwood of The America Airlines Arena to face the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.  This is the moment that true fans look forward to. The excitement in the air is electrifying as crowds gather around merchandise stores, bars and jostle to their seats. What will we witness tonight when Miami’s superstar Lebron James goes up against the team that introduced him to the NBA, the team that used to call him the chosen one, the team that would eventually come to despise him for leaving.

Half an hour to go and I have made it to my seat, Miami Heat shirt and drink bottle in hand. As I sit there sipping on my one litre Dr Pepper I’m running a highlight reel in my head. High Flying dunks, Alley – oops, long range three pointers. I had only seen these things on ESPN or NBA.com’s highlights. I stare in awe as both teams hit the court to warm up. Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving and three time NBA MVP Lebron James.  Lightening quick passing, huge dunks, shots I had never seen before and the game hadn’t even started. As a basketball player myself I come to realise how talented these people are as athletes.

The teams gather in the centre of the court as the national anthem of the United States of America comes over the speakers. I’m not even American but I’m so excited that I join in anyway. The anthem finishes and the players gather for their introductions.

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Cheering, whistling, screaming fill the arena as both teams huddle for one last time. I’m so occupied by what the players are doing that I don’t realise security have told me to sit down. The crowd is going ballistic as they head to centre court to shake hands with their opponents.  We all rise to our feet as the referee approaches with the game ball in hand. There is silence for a split second before the ref hurls the ball into the air and the crowd erupts!.

Game on

I love this game

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Heat Rising in Miami

One of the best  shooting guards in the game, a versatile all-star power forward and a four time NBA MVP .. throw in the greatest  three point shooter in history and it appears that the Miami Heat have ticked all the boxes right? .. Wrong!

In their journey to capture their second NBA championship in a row, the Heat exposed a weakness that many rivals will look to take advantage of next season and that is height !.  In the 2012-13 season we saw Miami’s big men struggle in the post against teams that were defensively strong and had the presence of a 7 foot centre. Look at the playoff series against the Indiana Pacers where All-star centre Roy Hibbert man handled the Heat and nearly sent them home early.

Enter Greg Oden.  The overall number one pick in the 2007 NBA draft and he is 7 feet tall. Although this may seem like the last box has been ticked and there is no stopping the Heat from here on out, there is the issue of whether or not Oden will be healthy and stay that way for the upcoming season.

greg-oden-heat-jersey

                                                           (Miami Heat,2013)

Since being drafted in 2007 Greg Oden has been plagued by injuries that have seen him sit out most of his NBA career. He was forced to miss his rookie season due to micro fracture surgery on his right knee and wouldn’t return to the hard tops of an NBA court until the 2008 season.  Having only played 82 games since he was drafted, Oden has technically played the equivalent of one NBA season out of the total five seasons he has been signed for.

The question that must be asked is have the Heat found the tall presence they were looking for?, or have they gambled on a player who is untested and still in the rookie period of his career.

The only thing that is certain is that the heat is rising in Miami in more ways than one.

http://watch.nba.com/nba/video/channels/nba_tv/2013/08/03/20130802-oden-signs-with-miami.nba

Miami Heat (2013, August 8). [Image]. Retrieved from http://nba.si.com/2013/08/07/greg-oden-miami-heat-welcome-joe-dumars-kobe-bryant/