Just a few days after the oversized 2012 NBA championship banner went up to the AmericanAirlines Arena rafters, the Heat unveiled a smaller one.
The Heat honored LeBron James’ run to Olympic gold by releasing a new banner before Saturday night’s game against the Nuggets. James won gold in 2008 as well, but this is his first such banner in Miami as his 2012 gold was his first as a member of the Heat.
Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning (2000, Sydney) have similar Olympic banners as does Dwyane Wade (2008, Beijing). Wade and Hardaway took part in the pregame ceremony at center court.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he wasn’t surprised James was able to continue to dominate as he did earlier in the summer when the Heat won its second NBA title.
James became the second player to win NBA Finals MVP and an Olympic gold in the same summer. Michael Jordan was first.
“The great ones have that kind of mentality,” Spoelstra said, “where it’s on to the next challenge, can’t get enough of the competition and taking down the next hurdle. That’s what LeBron is all about. That’s what he’s been about his whole career. It just finally took an NBA championship for people to view him as such. It also is a road that has been traveled before. Michael Jordan did that in 1992.”
Chris Bosh won a gold medal in 2008 while he was a member of the Raptors. Bosh would have been a part of this summer’s team, but he had to miss it after sustaining an abdominal injury during the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Pacers.
“I need my legs, I needed my groin,” Bosh said with a laugh when asked if he regretted not going to the Olympics. “I went through a lot of mixed emotions this summer. Yes, I was having a good time.
“But watching the Olympics, I wanted to be out there. It looked like so much fun; they played a fun style of basketball. And I’d never been to London. There were a lot of things going through my mind. But as tough as it was, it’s good to be healthy.”
Odds and ends
• Miami played its first back-to-back games of the season, and Spoelstra said he would manage players such as Wade and Ray Allen as the game went on. “I don’t have any restrictions,” Spoelstra said. “I’ll view their body language.”
Wade had knee surgery in the offseason but said before the game that, “Hopefully, I get loose and can explode off it. And it keeps getting better.”
Allen left Friday’s game against the Knicks for treatment of what Spoelstra called a “contusion right above the knee.” Allen played more than 26 minutes Friday and played Saturday, replacing Wade midway through the first quarter.
• Spoelstra was clear on what Miami needed to improve on after Friday’s 20-point loss in New York: defense.
“We have to own it and do a much better job,” Spoelstra said. “We don’t want to be confused about what our identity is. We can’t try to simply outscore teams.”