Two former Miami Heat players with long NBA tenures had the opportunity to take off in a race around the world.
Forwards Shawn Marion and Cedric Ceballos were one of 11 teams to compete in the 30th season of CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” which debuts at 8 p.m. Wednesday and has a first-place prize of $1 million for the winning duo to share.
While the two never played together during their professional basketball tenures, Marion said in the show’s promotional video that the two share similar experiences from their time in the NBA that will help them stay on the same page during the race.
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“Once you have that basketball fraternity, you’re kind of bonded for life,” he said.
The two hope their skill sets will complement each other throughout the race, which spans 10 countries, 21 cities and more than 29,000 miles of traveling for those who complete it.
“Shawn is quick, very witty. He has an ability to adapt to a lot of situations,” Ceballos said. “He can be a fool, and he can also be super intelligent.”
Marion said: “Ced is going to be our calm and steady guy. He’s going to make sure we have it right. … He’s going to stay even-keeled, even pace, and keep it calm and steady.”
Both Marion and Ceballos are used to extensive travel from their days in the NBA.
Marion, 39, played with the Phoenix Suns (1999-2008), Heat (2008-2009), Toronto Raptors (2009), Dallas Mavericks (2009-2014) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2015) over his 15-year career. He won an NBA championship in 2011, when his Mavericks defeated the Heat in the NBA Finals, and was a four-time NBA All-Star.
Ceballos’ basketball career went for 21 years. It started in the NBA, including stints with the Suns (1990-1994; 1997-1998), Los Angeles Lakers (1994-1997), Mavericks (1998-2000), Detroit Pistons (2000) and Heat (2000-2001). After that, he spent time overseas in Israel and Russia in addition to various minor-league outposts, and with the Harlem Globetrotters in 2002. Ceballos, 48, was an NBA All-Star in 1995 and won the slam dunk contest in 1992.
In his Amazing Race bio, Ceballos said “airport food” scares him the most about traveling.
“I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I was like, why not? Why not go for it?” Marion told the Chicago Tribune. “This is one of the shows that you really got to want to do. People love watching it, but to do it? It was more challenging than people think.”
Marion and Ceballos, given the nickname “Team Slam Dunk,” aren’t the only celebrities in this season of “The Amazing Race.” Other big names who embarked on the 10-country, 21-city race included IndyCar drivers Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi, freestyle skiers Kristi Leskinen and Jen Hudak, and competitive eaters Joey Chestnut and Tim Janus.
A pair of lifeguards from Miami Springs — Lucas Bocanegra and Brittany Austin, dubbed “Team Ocean Rescue” — also ran the race.
The race begins in New York, where the teams will take off to Iceland for the first leg of the race. Additional stops along the race include Belgium, Bahrain, France and Zimbabwe, among others. Teams will be eliminated one by one during various legs, which include mental and physical challenges along the way in addition to navigating themselves across the world.
Ceballos and Marion also said they appreciate that their former teammates and supporters from the NBA will be watching.
“They want us to prove that we can do other things besides playing basketball,” Ceballos said. “They’re going to be ragging us, too. … There’s going to be a lot of pressure.”