Upon learning of the Lakers free agent coup over the offseason, forward Metta World Peace predicted his team would challenge the Bulls record of 72 wins in a season. Not happening, says Dwyane Wade not by the Lakers and not by the Heat.
Anything is possible, Wade said. Would it be very hard? Yes, it would be very hard. The game today, with how many good teams are in this league, thats almost or as close to impossible as you can get.
Wade, a Chicago native, was 14 years old when Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman set the NBAs regular-season record for wins. LeBron James was a youngster in Akron, Ohio, and said he watched Bulls games on WGN.
What the Bulls did that year is special, Wade said. Think about that losing 10 games. They lost something like four at the All-Star break. Thats crazy.
The Bulls actually lost five games before the All-Star break and five games after. For Wade, aiming for the Bulls regular-season gold standard isnt even a realistic goal for the Heat.
I dont think we should have that goal around here, Wade said. You cant have that mentality.
You just have to go play the game and certain nights, teams are just going to get the best of you. Our job is just to be the best team we can be during the regular season and continue to get better.
Wade compared the 1996 Bulls to a young Mike Tyson, saying Chicago won many of its games simply by intimidating opponents before they even stepped on the court.
You talk to the older guys who played back then and they can kind of tell you that they won it off strictly intimidation, Wade said. They were like the Mike Tyson of basketball. He was young and he just walked in the ring and your were scared.
GETTING A LOOK
Point guard Garrett Temple, one of the Heats preseason invitees, has impressed coach Erick Spoelstra during training camp. The Heat already carries two point guards in Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, and James handles the ball on offense much of the time, but Temple has proved himself enough to receive a serious look over the final days of training camp.
Hes got a savviness about him, Spoelstra said. I feel very comfortable when hes running our offense.
Entering his third season in the league, Temple has bounced around between several teams but has shown an ability in the Heats training camp to quickly absorb the teams offensive and defensive goals.
Hes a highly intelligent player, Spoelstra said. He understands how we want to play for only being here for three weeks.
South Florida native and Pistons starting point guard Brandon Knight is in his second year in the league and Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said the next step for the Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest grad and University of Kentucky star is to find a balance this season between distributing and scoring.
Knight averaged 12.8 points and 3.8 assists per game as a rookie while shooting a more-than-respectable 38 percent from three-point range. Among rookies last season, Knight was second in the league in scoring behind only Kyrie Irving of Cleveland (18.5 ppg).
The next step you see from him is what hes doing in the preseason, getting other guys involved, Frank said. And yet the challenge is that gray area in that the point guard position has been redefined. You have guys who are high assist guys but who also have a scorers mentality. So, its finding that balance, which takes time.