PHOENIX — In preparation for a Tuesday night game at U.S. Airways Center, the Miami Heat on Monday took in what appeared to be a loose practice on the Suns’ practice court. Afterward, the conversation wasn’t about practice, but rather a dunking exhibition put on by LeBron James for media members and his teammates.
James put on a show for about 20 minutes as just about everybody in the gym, including players, shot video. It was a rare sight to see, apparently.
“It’s rare, very rare,” James said on the relaxed atmosphere after practice. “We had a great practice and I felt good.”
Windmills, off the backboard dunks, off the overhang. You name it and James probably tried it. Near the end of the session, former Suns forwardjoined James for what seemed like some sort of “h-o-r-s-e” contest.
“We got some work to do, me and (Beasley),” James said, referring to their dunking on the day.
With music blaring that could be heard from outside the gym upon entering it, you would think the Heat spent the majority of the day just dunking.
Dwyane Wade quickly shot down that idea, challenging the perception of Miami being a media sensation, a show in South Beach because of the players’ names. The Heat are two-time reigning champions, and two-time reigning champions can throw an impromptu dunk contest once they get their work done.
“Coach challenged us, and I thought we responded by having a great intensity in practice today and we were very focused,” Wade said. “Once he seen we worked hard, he called it in and after that guys got to let their hair down a little bit.
“We came in and work,” he added, “that is the one thing about this team, no matter what you want to call us, ‘Hollywood as hell,’ no matter what you say about the Heat, but we work.”
And “work” is something the Heat realize they will have to put in to get a win against the Suns on Tuesday night.
“They are a bunch of high-motor guys and if you don’t match their energy and effort, they can put 140 up on you and we understand that,” James said.
While the Heat are focused on keeping up with the Suns, Jeff Hornacek is curious to see how far his team has come since their 107-92 loss to Miami in November.
“They beat us down there. We were in the game for awhile, but they took over on us,” Hornacek said. “We made some mistakes, both sides of the ball, but we are a little bit better now, learned some things over the time, so hopefully we give them a good game.”
James, the defending two-time league MVP, scored 35 points against the Suns the last time they met and is averaging 26.1 points per game. The Heat and James are both coming off poor efforts in a loss to Utah on Saturday night, which could make stopping the “Big 3″ even more difficult for the Suns.
“We will figure that out, how to go against it, but the focus is on James, Wade, Bosh — those three guys, there is always something you’ve got to do to slow them down or neutralize them,” Hornacek said.
It will take an entire team to stop James defensively due to the fact that no one man can guard him one-on-one. Those are not my words either, that came straight from the “King” himself.
“No one man can guard me one-on-one,” James said. “It will be a team defensive game plan on and and try to guard me as a team and not as an individual.”