Miami Heat 'Fast Five': Nostalgia, Battier's Final Run, Bird's Energy & More

Ethan Skolnick@@EthanJSkolnickNBA Senior WriterMarch 31, 2014

USA Today

Five quick-hitting Miami Heat items as March closes, with an opening to get the No. 1 seed:

1. Chris Bosh knows one thing for sure about the Heat's 25-year reunion of their 2012 championship, sometime in 2037.

"I'll be the most handsome, you know," Bosh said, smiling.


But what about the others? Who will players be most interested to see again?

The question came to mind when the Heat were on hand for the Detroit Pistons' 25-year reunion of their 1989 title, which they called "Bad Boys Unite." 

Mar 28, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores greats former players Isiah Thomas (right) and Joe Dumars president of basketball operations  (left)  during a half-time celebration for the 1989 NBA championship team at The Palace of A
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

"It's going to be funny to see each other 25 years from now," Udonis Haslem said. "Some of us are going to be fat. Some of us are going to be bald-headed. It's a great opportunity to get on each other's case, but also reminisce and think about what we accomplished." 

Bosh thinks it will be "awesome." 

"You'll do some 'remember whens,'" he said. "It's a great thing to see. Just to see those guys. I was always hoping I was going to be on a team like the Bad Boys, just compete for championships, and kind of do what they did. Everybody knows the Bad Boys. They put such a print on this game, and what they did. You got to be cool to have a nickname. You've got to do some working for it."

We'll see if "The Heatles" sticks.

"It kind of just happened," Bosh said of that nickname. "We're kind of building on our story still."

What was evident Friday was how many of the Pistons have stayed in touch through the years, either via basketball or business. Bosh believes this is more common for champions. 

"Oh yeah, absolutely, because just the battles that you went through," Bosh said. "Just the things that you faced together, and the bonds that developed, in those moments when you relied on each other through thick and thin. And to come out on top, it's an awesome thing."

Haslem still talks to several members of the Heat's 2006 championship, though only he, Dwyane Wade and Alonzo Mourning remain part of the organization. That includes James Posey and Shaquille O'Neal, and while he hasn't spoken to Antoine Walker or Gary Payton as often, he sends "much love." 


"That bond is always going to be there, no matter who comes in and who goes out," Haslem said. "You win a championship with a group of guys and that bond will never be broken." 

Even as bodies get broken down some over time. 

That's why Mario Chalmers will be anxious to see how Mike Miller is doing: "I don't know if Mike will be able to walk." 

James Jones knows he'll be living in Miami, so he'll see Haslem often. 

"LeBron, D-Wade, Chris, they'll always have a reference to them," Jones said. "I'll see Shane on TV. I'll be interested to see what Norris Cole looks like, because I know he'll be back in the Midwest somewhere, out of sight, out of mind. Plus, he's one of the shorter guys, so he'll blend into the community.

What about Chris Andersen?

Darren Abate

"We know what Bird will look like," Jones said. "Bird will look like an older version of what he currently looks like. Long beard, Duck Dynasty." 

And what about Ray Allen, who will be somewhere around 63?

Bosh laughed.

"He'll look exactly the same." 

2. Shane Battier has a wealth of options available to him after he stops taking charges and hoisting threes.

Professional poker player is not among them. 

Battier has always hedged slightly when speaking to reporters about retiring after this season, but his actions have left no doubt. Last Friday, after the Heat held shootaround at his alma mater Detroit Country Day School, Battier wore a device on his warm-up collar to record his visit to The Palace of Auburn Hills.

His final visit as an NBA player. 

Before the game, he finally came completely clean.

"I've always been retiring," Battier said. "I just didn't want to talk about it the whole year. I knew last summer. I said it would take an act of the basketball gods to bring me back next year. I don't think that act is coming."

He laughed.

Is he having fun this season?

He paused.

"Um, fun is not the right word," Battier said. "You know, it's been a different year, it's been a different year for me. In a lot of regards. It's been a transition for me in a lot of regards. It's just been a different year." 

So what from here?

"Enjoy the days," Battier said.

And chronicle them.

Battier has been keeping a diary, which may become a book.  

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 24:  Ray Allen #34 helps up LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 24, 2014 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

3. LeBron James undershot the number. 

Prior to Saturday's win in Milwaukee, James spoke of the constant flux of this Heat season.

"I think I've seen a stat, we had our 14th different lineup the other night," James said. 

Actually, that happened nearly a month ago. 

Miami has used 19 different starting lineups this season, even though James has played in all but three games. They will probably play a few more during this closing stretch, as Erik Spoelstra will be trying to manage several health situations (notably those of Wade and Greg Oden) going into the postseason, even with the No. 1 East seed still at stake. 

"It's gotten to the point now where I don't even think about it. If I'm in the lineup, then I've got to do my job," James said. 

Still, he has acknowledged the challenges of all of the uncertainty. At this point, Spoelstra is more focused on creating a stable second unit, and even that has been difficult—Ray Allen missed all three games of the recent trip due to the stomach flu. 

James said he couldn't remember any of his pro teams going through anything like this. "Not when we were a contending team," he said. "Now, obviously, my first two years, we contended, but we didn't have championship aspirations. But no, I can't really recall as many different lineup changes."

Certainly, it hasn't happened in Miami.

The past three seasons, the Heat have used 15, 18 and 14, though the 18 occurred in the 66-game lockout-shortened season. So that actually wasn't all that different. Then, Bosh's abdominal injury forced Spoelstra to use four different lineups in the first four games of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Indiana.

Miami still took the trophy.

9 Mar 2001:  Udonis Haslem #50 of the Florida Gators dribbles the ball during the South Eastern Conference Tournament Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The Gators defeated the Crimson Tide 6
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

4. Udonis Haslem and Ray Allen haven't played for the University of Florida or University of Connecticut for more than a decade and nearly two decades, respectively. Still, each will likely do plenty of trash talking in the Heat locker room prior to the Gators and Huskies meeting in the Final Four next weekend.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

5 Feb 1998:  Forward Shane Battier of the Duke Blue Devils in action during a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  North Carolina defeated Duke 97-73. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons  /Allsport
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

And while Shane Battier's Duke Blue Devils were done in by Mercer, he's taken interest in something that may ultimately be more important to the college game. 

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that college football players at Northwestern University are allowed to unionize. Battier is interested to see what direction this takes, but he's well aware of the complications that exist in trying to figure out how to compensate college athletes. 

One of those complications is separating revenue from non-revenue sports.

"That's issue No. 1," Battier said. "That was the No. 1 issue when I was there, and that's what I tried to address as President of the Student Basketball Council."

That was a congress, with every school sending a player from a team. Battier was the president for the first year. It went on for a second year, and then it dissolved. He wasn't intending to unionize or strike. He just wanted to bring awareness to the work and school issues that affect college basketball players, and to improve the system.

The major plank?  

"Men's basketball and men's football are different; they have to be separate," Battier said. "That was my main goal, was for them to admit that men's basketball and football and the issues that face both sports, internally and externally, are different. And therefore there should be a new rule book to deal with the issues that affect men's basketball and football. I think the rules are fine for rowing and for women's lacrosse and for men's tennis, non-revenue sports. But if you throw billions and billions of dollars that are generated by basketball and football specifically, it makes the whole situation a bad one." 

How did it go over?

"Crickets," Battier said. 

Part of the problem was that they didn't have a negotiating partner. 

Now, 13 years later, the issues are still out there. And the drumbeat is getting louder for more drastic changes.

"The NCAA better be careful," Battier said. "Because if they don't do anything, the courts will."

And in his view, more progressive thinkers will be emboldened to generate action.

5. Chris Andersen is the one Heat player whose energy has not appeared to ebb from time to time this season. 

How does he summon it? 

"I've always played like that," he said. "One speed. Open throttle. Open throttle. One speed." 

He stared down the reporter to make the point.

Rick Bowmer

So, ever since he started playing? 

"Yeah, man," Andersen said. "Just a high competitive spirit."

Does he feel like he's cheating himself if he doesn't?

"Do I feel like I'm cheating myself?" Andersen repeated. "Well, I don't ever not play that way." 

But everybody has days when they don't feel like as energized as another day. How does he fight through that? 

"Fight through it," Andersen said. "Mentally, that's it. Open throttle. You like that? Open throttle." 

Like O.T.

"No, ain't no O.T.," Andersen said. 

None was needed for the interview. Point made. No need to analyze the effort. Just appreciate.

Ethan Skolnick covers the Heat for Bleacher Report.


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