The Miami Heat will open training camp at Florida Atlantic University Tuesday morning and play its first preseason game Sunday night at home against the Atlanta Hawks.
So the focus will turn to basketball fast and furiously.
But before we get to that, here are some off-the-court highlights from what was a pretty interesting summer for most of the players and coaches:
▪ If you follow Hassan Whiteside on Snapchat you know he went on vacation to Paris and London this summer, talked smack to the sculptures and art inside The Louvre and ate dinner inside the Eiffel Tower. He also bought a six bedroom house for his mother back home in North Carolina and hosted several teammates including rookie Bam Adebayo and newcomer Kelly Olynyk at his mansion.
So of all that what did Hassan enjoy the most? “I met Patrick,” Whiteside deadpanned Monday at Heat media day.
Patrick is the starfish he met on the beach. It goes by the same name of a character in Spongebob (see the video below).
All joking aside, having dinner inside the Eiffel Tower really blew him away “just because you see it in all the movies,” Whiteside said.
▪ Unlike Whiteside who has lots of friends that live under water (and that he speaks to), Tyler Johnson had a different experience with a sea creature this summer. Aside from putting his Pinecrest mansion up for sale, Johnson said he took a trip with his family to Hawaii.
“I tried to go snorkeling, but I really couldn’t make it out that far because there was an eel out there,” Johnson said. “They have a little reef you’re supposed to swim through. We started to swim through the tunnel and I saw an eel and I had to turn around and go.
“It’s not that [the ocean and I are] not friends. I’ll jump in every now and then. But Shark Week will take it out of you. They put it right in the middle of the summer too. They need to put it on in the winter.”
▪ Rookie Bam Adebayo, who grew up in the backwoods in a small town in North Carolina, moved down to South Florida with his mother. They each have their own condos – in the same building near AmericanAirlines Arena.
“I’m on the 48th floor,” Adebayo said. “She’s on the fifth floor. Whenever I want the homecooked meal I just go downstairs.”
Adebayo, who drove a beatup Ford Explorer in high school and college, bought himself a brand new, supercharged all-black Range Rover with leather interior. He rarely uses it though and usually walks to the arena, he says.
▪ On a rainy day, though, Adebayo might want to drive and pickup newcomer Kelly Olynyk along the way.
Olynyk, who lives quite a simple life even after signing a four-year, incentive-based $50 million deal with the Heat this summer, sold the Toyota Tundra he had in Boston and is car-less in South Florida.
“I mean I needed it in Boston. It snowed. I don’t need it here in Miami,” Olynyk said. “I’m staying at a hotel right now close to the arena. So I walk everyday.”
When he goes to visit his favorite sushi restaurants, Olynyk said, he usually just takes an Uber.
If you’re wondering, no, Olynyk hasn’t tried Cuban coffee yet.
“I don't even know what it is,” he said. “I don’t drink coffee. That stuff would probably rock my world.”
▪ Dion Waiters, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal and threw a huge bash in his hometown of Philadelphia with several of his Heat teammates and NBA friends in attendance, said his summer highlight was finding out he’s about to become a father for the second time.
“I’m about to have a daughter next month,” Waiters said. “I just know I’m going to be overprotective. It is what it is. That was the highlight of the summer though.”
▪ Udonis Haslem, back for his 15th season with the Heat, went to China with Dwyane Wade yet again to promote Li Ning shoes. He also partied with family and friends in Greece.
But the highlight, Haslem said, was hanging with his three boys. Last Saturday, Haslem’s son, a 6-5, 290-pound freshman offensive lineman at Toledo, played against the hometown Hurricanes, Haslem’s favorite team.
“This summer was really dedicated to my kids,” Haslem said. “I took my son [Kedonis] to college. That was the most fun, just getting him acclimated to that college lifestyle. My 10-year-old had two travel team tournaments. I went with him to those. My six-year-old had basketball. I was able to go to those.”
▪ Wayne Ellington said he spent time with his first-born child, Tray, who was born in late March.
“That was fun for me just watching him grow every day,” Ellington said. “He’s starting to develop this personality right now. That’s really been the highlight of my summer, spending time with him and trying to take him places and enjoy him.”
Is Ellington a pro at changing diapers yet? “I wouldn’t say a pro,” he said. “but I’m experienced.”
▪ Josh Richardson doesn’t have kids, but he spent a lot of time back home in Oklahoma taking care of his five-year-old nephew Ethan and three-year-old niece Zoey.
The key to peace and quiet? “Ice cream,” Richardson said.
“Whenever I come home they’re like ‘Uncle Josh let’s go get ice cream.’ That’s like our thing right there. There’s a lot of things you can do to entertain them – put on Lion King, certain movies. The little one is learning how to count. I try to do things to keep it fun.”
Changing his hairstyle is one of them. He’s gone from a tight, neat look to braids this season.
“I got bored with my hair,” Richardson said. “I didn’t want to cut it. So I did something different. I was inspired by Justise [Winslow] in summer league last year. My Dad told me just to enjoy it [the hair] while I got it. He’s not bald. So it’s weird he said that.”
▪ Winslow said his summer highlight was going to Singapore in August where he helped run a NBA-sponsored basketball training camp for boys and girls.
“It was a little bit of a culture shock, but a good one,” Winslow said. “The food was amazing, the Merlion statues, a lot of stuff. It was different. But I really enjoyed it. It opened up my eyes to a lot of things. Now I’m more willing to get out of my comfort zone and do those things.”
▪ Erik Spoelstra spent time in South Africa and coached Team World in the Basketball Without Borders game in August.
“That was a great experience,” Spoelstra said Monday. “I like to do some kind of trip every summer and obviously people that know me, I go to the Philippines a lot and barnstorm and run clinics over there. And I love doing that. But I had the opportunity to coach [former Heat forward] Luol Deng. He talked about how he was brought up and how he was a refugee and what it was like coming from Africa and then going to London. But he talked so much and so positively about his experiences in Africa and how he gives back and everything that I wanted to be a part of it.
“So the league asked me if I wanted to do it this year and I said, ‘Sign me up, I don’t care when it is during the summer. My wife will go over there, we'll offer our service in every way we can.’ It was a transformational trip. The NBA does a tremendous job. It was a week of clinics and camps for youth kids, but also outreach.
“We built some houses in villages that really needed support and really need a lot of attention that we were able to bring just by being there, and I was able to reconnect with Lu over there. I had told him, when he talked about it, I said, ‘Hey, one of these days I want to go over there with you.’ So I was able to check that box and it was a great time. The game was fun. The game wasn’t played like an All-Star Game, it was pretty competitive, so it was a good time.”
▪ By now everyone knows Goran Dragic led Slovenia to the EuroBasket gold medal and it was an emotional run. But here’s why he returned from Slovenia with a full-grown beard.
“Before the European championship, before I went to Finland, my grandpa passed away,” Dragic said. “He was 82 years old. Of course I went to the funeral. After that, our custom is you don’t shave for 40 days. So I still have one week left. I always played for my grandpa. We won a title. So, I don’t if I’ll ever shave again.”
Dragic said his wife, kids and parents will be joining him in South Florida within the next two weeks.
“Everybody is well. Everybody is healthy. That’s the most important thing,” Dragic said. “I don't have no worries this year. I have a home that’s set. I mean [Sunday] night I came back from Europe and I went to sleep in my bed. It’s perfect.”
▪ We should have known gym rats James Johnson and Rodney McGruder didn’t go on any extraordinary trips.
McGruder at least had an excuse.
“My birthday my family came down and we hung out. That was fun,” he said. “We went out on a boat and just enjoyed our time together. That was the most fun thing. I had surgery on my nose so I couldn’t fly. I had a deviated septum. So I couldn’t really travel or anything like that.”
Don’t worry, McGruder says he’s fine.
“I feel great,” McGruder said. “I’m sleeping better. That’s what I appreciate.”
▪ Beyond going to Philly to hang with Waiters and his teammates, Johnson claims he didn’t go on any vacations this summer.
“Got better,” Johnson replied when asked what he did this summer for fun after a signing a four-year, $60 million deal. “I didn’t really have an off-season. I worked hard, tried to work with three different trainers, come back here and work with our own. I sticked with my Pop, worked with him. That’s pretty much it.”
Not a single break?
“I was here in Miami,” Johnson answered. “I worked out with [trainer Stanley] Remy. I met up with [Heat shooting coach] Rob Fodor. I got with the Miami Hoop School, [Andrew Moran] and them. I was just all over just trying to get better. It’s a big sacrifice but all props go to my wife and my kids. They have to sacrifice with me throughout all this.”