Opening Night: Game Time! Blog
Posted Nov 1 2006 12:45AM
We're ringing in the 2006-07 season from Miami
Frightening Final Thoughts
Posted by Rob Peterson on Nov. 1, 2006, 12:40 a.m. ET
I have no idea if this is a portent for the Heat's season, but as Jeff Dengate and I were walking back to our hotel, we noticed a black cat scampering across the street and up the stairs of the Triple A.
Jeff and I paused.
"I'm not superstitious," I said, "but ..."
"I am," Jeff said.
"And it's Halloween," I noted, looking up at the hazy half-moon hanging in the humidity.
"Let's walk over there," I said, pointing to a parallel path.
After that little exchange and change of direction, I couldn't help but think of the Heat, and how they may have been better off going the other way tonight.
Yes, they had the nice ring ceremony and the fans were hyped, but with 14 minutes gone in their season, the Heat were down by 10, never to get closer again.
As I noted before, whether this performance is a window to Miami's soul this season is yet to be determined. But in losing by 42 points, the Heat shattered the Lakers' old record of largest margin of defeat by a defending champ. The Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors by 15 on opening night in 1982.
And of course you know who was holding the clipboard for the Lakers that night, don't you?
A couple of side notes as I scope the PHX-LAL game on TNT:
The Lakers look hyped, right now. Maybe Kobe can take his time getting back in the groove.
How good is it to have the TNT crew back? You don't need to answer that. It's rhetorical.
Finally, and I move to have every team in the NBA do this, but darken the house lights during the game as the Lakers have done at STAPLES. I don't know if it's an opening night thing or if it's planned for the whole season, but the floor's a stage for the world's greatest athletes.
Darken the house lights and put the spotlight on the floor, where it should be.
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 10:47 p.m. ET
Remember the smile on Pat Riley's face during the ring ceremony?
He had a frown as big as the Heat's final 42-point defecit when the buzzer sounded.
What can we take from this can from this one game?
Well, if you're the Heat, it's one of 82 and there are 81 remaining in your title defense. Chalk it up to... Well, whatever you want to chalk it up to. Just make sure it's chalk so you can wipe the slate clean and start anew.
Just remember, 13 of the last 15 champs have won on Opening Night.
Which leaves us the Bulls, who thoroughly and completely trounced the defending champs. I usually don't use adverbs, but the Bulls were that good. I had no choice.
They can take away that for one night at least they made like their Monster of the Midway counterparts and crushed the opposition with extreme prejudice.
As the final buzzer sounded, the cheers had turned to boos and the Beatles "A Hard Day's Night" played on the PA.
Too true, for the Heat. For the Bulls, they could take this kind of performance "Eight Days a Week."
Fan of the Night
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 10:37 p.m. ET
With the Heat down 30, one of the few courtside fans remaining implored the home team: "Come on! We have five minutes to win this."
Did you know fan is short for fanatic?
And, yes, I do the same with my teams...
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 10:30 p.m. ET
Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha are getting significant burn tonight. Both have been extremely active, with Thomas hitting the deck like a pro wrestler.
Thomas has been short on many of his intermediate range jumpers, but has been active.
Sefolosha has been active too. And he can shoot. He just shook and baked Chris Quinn at the top of the key and drained an 18-footer in Quinn's mug.
I don't know if you can expect this type of relaxed, but energetic play from them this season, but it can only help the Bulls if they develop quickly.
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 10:21 p.m. ET
You watch Scott Skiles prowl the sidelines like every possession means the world, and when they go into a timeout after giving up a fastbreak hoop, you can see it's true.
Skiles' went into the timeout with pursed lips and red cheeks muttering to himself a compound word about a diety and a structure beavers build followed by the word "it".
Of course he should be upset.
The Bulls are only up 23.
Last Dancers Blog
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 10:17 p.m. ET
Quick story about the Heat Dancers.
Remember how I refered to them as the most popular dance team in the NBA?
Well, they won NBA.com's Dance Team Bracket last year.
Before the contest started, I called my dad, who's been in the league as a video coordinator for 18 years, and has been on the road with his teams the past eight seasons. Like a player, he's been to every arena in the L more than at least eight times.
"Hey, Dad, we're going to have a Dance Team Bracket this..."
"I didn't even get to finish my sentence..."
"If it's a dance contest involving NBA teams, the Heat win hands down."
I wonder how many times he voted.
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 10:10 p.m. ET
During a timeout, the Heat had their DJ MC a giveaway. Often during those giveaways, they have a couple of Heat dancers, the most popular in the NBA, grooving on the DJ dias with him.
Tonight, the dancers were wearing... Jackets?
Windbreakers, it looked like.
(Um, yes I looked...)
I guess even the dancers need to get into midseason form.
The New Bulls
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 10:08 p.m. ET
Here's something you didn't hear much of last year... After Chris Duhon nailed his second shot in as many trips down the floor late in the third, one of the Heat fans said: "Man, these guys can shoot."
And then another fan noted, "They can play defense too..."
"It's time to go."
I turned around, and the whole row was gone.
The Sounds of Silence
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 10:01 p.m. ET
The palpable energy that had this arena bursting at it's seams during the ring ceremony has dissapated...
With the Heat down 25, the faithful have had little to cheer, save the ceremony itself.
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 9:52 p.m. ET
Is as bling worthy as the rings... It has diamonds in it too...
"It has 10 carats," Sager joked. "I'm walking like this..." And then he proceeds to double over as if his bright, shiny orange tie is a sartorial albatross.
Of TOs and Ts
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 9:35 p.m. ET
So, what do we have here? Ring night jitters from the champs? Excellent execution and superior play from the team with championship hopes?
You can get those answers and more after the game when NBA.com's own Jeff Dengate attempts to answer that question.
In the meantime, the zero tolerance policy is in full effect. There have been three technical fouls in the first half ... and Rasheed Wallace isn't even here.
(By the way, it's sooo silent here at the Triple A, they heard the rimshot to that joke in the 500 section. And I think someone coughed.)
Then again, you'd be silent too if your squad trailed by 29 a mere 24 minutes after they received solid 24-karat gold rings.
And then there's the turnovers. The Heat have 11, with Wade, four, and Gary Payton, three, accounting for seven of them. And people, it's not the ball. Wade's a tick over his career 3.69 turnovers per game average.
Whatever it is, the Heat better get it right, because from baseline to baseline, it's turning out to be a night to forget.
White Hot ... Bulls
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 9:20 p.m. ET
MIAMI -- Don't mess with the hoops gods. That's what I always say (when I need a lead to a blog entry...)
Tonight, the Heat have donned their road red for their 2006-07 home debut. Here at the Triple A, the fans have been implored to wear their white T-shirts in support of their guys, who usually wear white at home.
But guess who's wearing white tonight? The Bulls.
Guess who's winning by twenty-freakin'-eight points? The Bulls.
Guess who has 30 points? The team wearing red, Miami.
So, the Bulls lead by nearly as many as the Heat have.
Remember the back of the house? Well, we're now officially behind the woodshed, people.
Don't mess with the basketball gods ... or, for god's sake, the marketing department.
Oh, Wait ...
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 8:58 p.m. ET
MIAMI -- ... there's a game?
Oh, right, the gaaaaaaaaame. Looks like the Bulls are on an early roll with a 34-19 lead.
Luol Deng's wearing out the Heat defense with 10 points in 10 minutes.
That'll do. Unfortunately for me, I have Chris Duhon for my Pick One Challenge selection tonight.
And that Tyrus Thomas putback dunk? Ooooooooooooh-wee! First stinkface dunk of the season.
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 8:30 p.m. ET
MIAMI -- A quick summary of the ring ceremony: Fans and the Heat continues the White Hot Heat theme as nearly everyone save those working (me) and the Heat in their warmups, everyone was adorned in white.
I saw bunny ears, togas, a huge man in a fur outfit, like a post-Apocolyptic Huggy Bear, in white.
Anyway, I've been to plenty of opening nights, (I used to work with the Bucks), but as you can imagine, no ring ceremonies, as there hasn't been a ring ceremony there since '71.
(One of these days! Dammit, one ... of ... these ... days!)
Ahem, anyway. The Miami Heat's rings, in an elongated word: sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. Pat Riley designed them and he knows a little something about rings, that's for sure. (They're nearly as big as my sandwich.) Check out this piece we did with him in 2003 when he only had a paltry six. (Goodness, six rings!) Now, he has seven and the latest came in a little silver box.
What it must feel like to slip on of them on, encrusted with diamonds, gold and platinum. It's like wearing a jewelery store on your hand.
This year's edition has 15 Strong on one side and the Ring of Faith on the other.
Ring of Fire?
No, Ring of Faith. You know, 15 Strong, faith in each other...
Anyway, you should have seen the smile on Riles' face. Although this was ring No. 7 and he looked as if it were his first. I couldn't tell who was more excited, Riles or Zo.
Udonis Haslem got a lot of love, and then came Wade.
You gotta gotta remember, the Heat faithful hadn't seen D-Wade since the parade and in uniform since Game 5. The MVP chant started immediately.
Then, Shaq picked up his fourth ring, Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" played, fireworks went off and streamers streamed from the rafters.
Yes, it was a fine ring ceremony. I'm looking forward to being at next year's.
Wherever it may be.
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 8:19 p.m. ET
MIAMI -- Before we get to the ceremony, which was a fine show by the way, Alonzo Mourning, or you may know him as Zo, at the end of the ceremony, thanked the fans, thanked his teamates, and "with your support," he told the fans, "we're going to do it again."
Mmm... repeat guarantees. No pressure or anything.
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 7:42 p.m. ET
MIAMI -- First time for everything...
One of the auxiliary hoops in, as the kids call it, "the back of the house," (which is not, I repeat not, the same as being taken behind the woodshed) synched to the game clock. So, you had a folded hoop, with the shot clock at 24 and the time ticking away.
Been in NBA arenas for 18 years. I've never seen that before.
Fuel for (I) Love (This Game)
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 7:30 p.m. ET
MIAMI -- After talking to the Commissioner and blogging, among other things here at the Triple A (American Airlines Arena for those who want specifics), we needed to eat.
So, we went to the deli, and I kid you not, got a sandwich the size of homeplate. I swear, it was nearly 17-inches across and Tasmanian Devil-like, with whole chickens and turkeys and maybe a game bird or two.
Anyway, we're in the media workroom, and lo and behold, look who's here! Commissioner Stern. The byte-stained wretches have surrounded him and are listening to his statement. He's now regailing some of the media about the success of Rutgers football, the Commissioner's alma mater. We're gonna head to the court and get some Miami flavor into this thing.
Welcome to Miami!
Posted by Rob Peterson on October 31, 2006, 6:45 p.m. ET
MIAMI -- Hold on a second. Didn't it ...
Weren't we just ...
Yes, I knew it ... we were just here in Miami for the 2006 NBA Finals. It's like we never left. It's still warm, humid, except when were here last, the Heat weren't champs. They led 3-2, but they had to close out in Dallas. Which they did. Which is why we're here.
We've already chatted with Commissioner Stern. And now, we've got our eyes on the prize -- the Heat's championship rings to be exact. The ceremony should start 'round 7:40 and we're going to try to get a good look at the ring-a-ding bling.
Until then, we'll be back shortly.