On Monday, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh took their talents to the BankUnited Center for Miami Heat Media Day.
It was the first formal press conference with South Florida’s big three since July when they were introduced after the huge signings.
The event was supposed to take place at American Airlines Arena, the home of the Heat, but a Shakira concert Monday night forced them to move the venue.
“I would say there was no other competition,” BankUnited Center general manager Patrick McGrew said. “I used to work at American Airlines Arena so I made a quick phone call and said I’m going to help you out of a bond and that’s when the dialogue started. They came down here and did a site visit. Came down again for a second site visit and at the end of the day they said we might have even been better equipped to handle an event like this than their own building.”
Last year Miami Heat Media Day issued approximately 50 credentials; this year there was five times that amount because of the signings of two-time reigning NBA MVP James and five time all-star Bosh.
“The approach I first took was to have the men’s and women’s teams be associated with the Heat,” McGrew said. “Number two, it’s the very first media day with the big three. This will be bigger than next year’s [Media Day] will be. It’s also good for this university because you can’t buy this kind of publicity.”
Heat third-year head coach Erik Spoelstra said his goal this offseason was to get his players in world class condition. James, Bosh and fellow Heat teammates recently scrimmaged multiple times against the University of Miami men’s basketball team at the 29,000-square foot Fieldhouse adjacent to the BankUnited Center.
It was a valuable experience for not only the student athletes, but for the Heat players as well.
“We were trying to get in shape back then,” Bosh said. “The guys here at The U can really play. For us it was a good opportunity to go up and down [the court]. As Lebron said earlier, you can’t get in basketball shape until you play games. Pick up is a big part of the summer. Not only can we play to get in shape but just to help those guys out.”
James feels like he can help bring basketball to prominence in South Florida, which has been more known for producing its plethora of football and baseball talent.
“You hope they can get better recruiting and throughout the summer, if we have an opportunity, we’ll come back and play,” James said.
UM men’s head coach Frank Haith agrees.
“Anytime you have guys that played in the NBA and talked about their experiences it’s just tremendous for our players,” Haith said.
Heat shooting guard Mike Miller, who took a significant pay cut to sign with the Heat this summer, raved about the UM program that Haith has built.
“It’s very nice,” Miller said. “We had a chance to play in the practice facility this summer. It’s a big time set up for these guys. They are headed in the right direction. There is a lot of talent. They can shoot the ball and have bigs that can play. Coach [Haith] will do it the right way, he’s a great coach.”
Despite the fact that Bosh attended ACC foe Georgia Tech, he hopes the Hurricane team cherished the scrimmages and continues to improve.
“Them being able to see us, there is no telling how it will touch their lives [and]really show them how we work,” Bosh said. “We didn’t just show up and play. We did drills, we worked, we stretched. They kind of saw what we go through in our routine. To show them that it’s not a game, we show up and work and take this very seriously.”
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.