Miami Heat’s Michael Beasley close to making return from injury

12/23/2013 12:01 AM

12/23/2013 12:02 AM

Cleared for contact after being sidelined for 2 1/2 weeks with a strained hamstring, Michael Beasley participated in the Heat’s practice Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra would like Beasley to play against the Hawks on Monday before flying to Los Angeles, but the team’s training staff will evaluate Beasley one final time Monday before signing off on the small forward. Beasley last played Dec. 5. He has missed seven consecutive games.

“You never know what the right plan is, but we all were on board with the plan that our training staff and medical staff had for Michael,” Spoelstra said. “He was anxious to come back over a week ago, but there are a series of tests and progressions to make sure his hamstring was getting stronger and healthy.”

If not treated properly, hamstring injuries can linger throughout an entire season and lead to other injuries. To avoid complications, the Heat’s training staff has been overly cautious with Beasley’s health.

“He has been going more full speed on the court, not full contact, the last five or six days and [Sunday] was his first full-contact practice, and I was encouraged,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll have to see how he feels and responds [Monday].”

Beasley’s participation Sunday was a good indicator that he will be available against the Hawks. It was one of Heat’s more physical practices since the preseason.

Just in case the team’s holiday party on Saturday night somehow softened up the defending back-to-back champions, Spoelstra put his team through a Sunday workout he called “a training-camp, gladiator practice.”

“I think they understood [Saturday] night because we had the day off,” Spoelstra said. “By the end of the night, I think the guys understood that we were going to get after it [Sunday].”

Holiday surprises

Heat president Pat Riley’s annual holiday party turned into an impromptu engagement party when Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade’s longtime girlfriend, arrived with a diamond ring on her finger. Wade proposed to Union before the party at his home and then announced the engagement on Twitter and Instagram.

Wade said his children helped him pop the question.

“We asked her to marry all of us, not just me,” Wade said. “It was a package deal.”

Wade and Union have dated since 2007.

“She was ready,” Wade said. “She had the ‘yes’ in her back pocket.”

At the holiday party, Wade then surprised his teammates with green custom-made sports coats commemorating their 2013 championship. The blazers featured the players’ jersey numbers on the sleeves and white Heat logos on the front pockets.

Wade said his inspirations for the unique mementos were the Masters golf tournament and Rasheed Wallace. Wallace famously had pro wrestling-style replica championship belts made for his Pistons teammates for winning the 2004 NBA Finals. Wade liked Wallace’s idea but wanted something a little classier.

Said Wade: “You know me, I’m always trying to do something different and out of the norm, and I started thinking about what have previous champions done … and then it came to be me, because of fashion and because of the Masters and how amazing it is when they win the green jacket and all the previous winners come back and take pictures with the green jackets and how prestigious it is … so I got with my stylist and created this Masters kind of feel.”

This and that

• Ray Allen was held out of practice.
• Heat players wore sleeved practice jerseys in preparation of their Christmas Day game against the Lakers.

“The guys really wanted to get a full practice with those jerseys,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t know if it was needed — that’s what they’re workout shirts look like anyway — but mentally now they don’t have an excuse.”

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