PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- Conspiracy theories and circumstantial evidence are popping up almost daily now in the constant and ongoing crusade to figure out what it’s going to take to keep LeBron James in Miami after this season.
An annual training camp here in the Bahamas at Atlantis Paradise Island Resort probably wouldn’t be a deterrent in keeping the world’s greatest basketball player in South Florida.
James said Friday that he “wouldn’t mind” another training camp in the Bahamas, and he’s probably not alone in that opinion.
James and the Heat wrapped up their four-day, five-practice exercise with one final session Friday morning before taking a short flight back to Miami.
The Heat will take the day off Saturday and then conduct a scrimmage open to the public at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday. The scrimmage, free of charge, is sold out.
“I thought our first four days back into the season were very productive,” James said. “We got better, and we worked at it. It was great to see guys excited to be back and about the game of basketball. We got after it.”
The Heat has an endorsement deal with the Bahamas, and the team did its part to attract attention to these beautiful islands and its wonderful people, but from the perspective of players and coaches, the trip was valuable time spent building team chemistry.
When the players weren’t sweating on makeshift courts in an enormous ballroom, they were lounging together by the pool or palling around together in the resort’s casino. Unlike the trip to China last year, families and friends of players and coaches weren’t invited to the Bahamas.
“To come down here, just us, it gives us a great time to bond and have some camaraderie both on and off the floor,” James said. “We worked our tails off for five practices and to be able to have down times in the afternoons to just chill around the pool, we had a lot of laughs.”
Dwyane Wade called it the best training camp of his 11-year career despite most of the practice time being dedicated to defensive fundamentals. The Heat’s defense performed below its normal standards to begin the 2012-13 season and time was spent in the Bahamas to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
“We knew we didn’t start of the season defensively like we wanted to, but when you know you have a problem and you face it — it is very correctable and we knew that,” James said. “One thing we talked about was defending finishing, finishing with a rebound and getting out.”
Ray Allen is one of six players from the 1996 draft class preparing for his 18th season. The other players are Steve Nash, Derek Fisher, Jermaine O’Neal, Marcus Camby and Kobe Bryant.
“We’re trying to outdo each other,” Allen said. “I’m not going to be the first one to go.”
O’Neal signed with Golden State in the offseason. Camby joined Dwight Howard in Houston this summer. Bryant and Nash are with the Lakers.
“You look at all those guys and you figure mentally that you stayed in it over time,” Allen said. “We didn’t take good care of our bodies when we first came into the NBA. We learned.”
Allen said having “veterans who taught you how to take care of your body” was important. He also credited his wife, Shannon, for keeping him in line.
“For some of us, it’s our wives who made sure we stayed on track and kept the [healthy] eating and keeping our body together. I think it’s the people around us that keep us up and keep us challenged.”