With 450 Air Force guests looking on, new-look Heat hold 1st full scrimmage of preseason camp

By Tim Reynolds, AP
Friday, October 1, 2010

Heat hosting 450 Air Force guests for scrimmage

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — The Miami Heat are hosting 450 guests from the U.S. Air Force for their first full scrimmage of training camp.

A practice unlike perhaps any other in team history, 225 airmen and others will be brought into the relatively small gym at Hurlburt Field for the first half, then replaced by 225 more onlookers for the second 20-minute period. Many of those who received passes to see LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Heat play were lined up long before the scrimmage began.

The national anthem will even play to begin the event, something that doesn’t happen before just any regular workout.

The Heat have trained at the Air Force installation on Florida’s Panhandle since Tuesday morning. They return to Miami on Sunday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AP) — It’ll be the smallest crowd for a Miami Heat game all season. Still, Dwyane Wade expects his team to put on a show.

The Heat will have their first scrimmage of training camp Friday night, playing before airmen at Hurlburt Field, the U.S. Air Force installation they’re calling home for a week of intense workouts.

Team rosters will change often and play will get stopped as coach Erik Spoelstra sees fit, but it’ll at least be game-like.

“I will be so happy,” forward Udonis Haslem said, adding a few extra o’s to ’so’ for emphasis. “I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot of guys here and everybody’s picking up the offense and the defensive assignments well. But it’s like one-play-in, one-play-out, hard to get a real sweat going and get yourself going. We’ll have an opportunity to go up and down the court.”

The scrimmage will be the next-to-last workout Miami has in Florida’s Panhandle before returning home Sunday morning. The first preseason game is Tuesday against Detroit.

“It’s mental at this point,” two-time NBA MVP LeBron James said after Friday’s first practice. “Everyone, the coaching staff knows, we all know, right now it’s break-your-legs-down and try to work them back up throughout the preseason. We know that. But as professionals and as veterans, we know we can still get work done even if our legs are hurting and sore. That’s reality.”

Most of the work Miami has done during camp has centered on defense, and that will be how Spoelstra evaluates the quality of Friday’s scrimmage as well. The Heat have had some sessions to start installing the offense, mostly motion sets, but the emphasis is clearly on the other end of the floor.

“It’ll be an open scrimmage,” Spoelstra said. “I know the guys will be looking forward just to getting out, getting out up-and-down where I don’t have a whistle to stop it.”

He’s right.

“It won’t be a game-feel now, of course not,” James said. “But it will be an opportunity for us to get better.”

Not everyone on the Heat roster is likely to be available. Guard Eddie House missed time Friday with a sore left shoulder and guard Kenny Hasbrouck was kneed inadvertently in the right leg by Haslem during a drill. Despite a limp and some soreness, Hasbrouck said he would try to play in the scrimmage.

Air Force personnel say having the Heat around has served as a big boost for morale, especially during a week in which Hurlburt Field remembered the life of Senior Airman Daniel Sanchez, who died Sept. 16 after being injured serving in Afghanistan.

The Heat have had morale boosts as well, simply being around the military members and their families. And the scrimmage — a break from the monotony of practice — will serve as another lift to spirits.

“I don’t mind the drilling part of it, especially here right now, because I know we’re getting better,” Wade said. “It’s what you come into the season, the beginning of the year, training camp, understanding that you need to drill. I’ve been here seven, going on eight years and I still need to drill the things we’re doing.”

The fans won’t care much either way.

Only a handful of personnel have gotten the opportunity to see the Heat on the court at Hurlburt Field during this camp. And while there’s not enough space to get every interested party into the scrimmage, Miami is inviting some in Friday to watch a probable championship contender get some work done.

Wade knows this scrimmage will have a different feel than, say, one would have during a private camp in Miami.

“It’ll be good to get out in front of the troops and play and get a crowd in here,” Wade said. “I believe guys will be juiced up just for that, so it should be fun. … It’ll be good, especially for our troops, who have done an unbelievable job of opening their arms for us here.”

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