Heat leave Miami for a little peace, but the throng follows

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Lebron_Wade_Bosh2.jpgThe Miami Heat plane had plenty of radar tracking it as it landed at 10 p.m. last night at Eglin Air Force Base. As the team came down the stairs, they were greeted by a crowd that had been there three hours to see them.

Such is the life of the Miami Heat now — even in their place of escape people are lined up hours to see them. To see them get off a plane. The Heat players did take the time to mingle with the crowd, but it made ring true what Coach Erik Spoelstra told NBA.com:

“…this team wasn’t built to go under the radar.”

The Miami Heat are THE traveling road show of the NBA — there were a ridiculous 350 credentialed media at their media day, and 150 of them will travel to a military base on the Florida panhandle for training camp. Where media will take shuttle buses from the hotel to the base, where they are granted 30-minutes-a-day group access. That was after each member of the media passed a military criminal background check to get on the air force base. Still ESPN will be doing live television remotes with a desk and a team of reporters. The demand is still there.

Thousands of miles away, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told NBATV how nice and quiet it was for the two-time defending champions with so much of the national media in Florida.

The Heat know the zoo that is ahead, which is why they have chosen the most remote of training camp locations, with strict access. Real team bonding moments will be hard for this squad to come by. There will be a constant pull of obligations, there will be fans and reporters lurking around every turn.

Pat Riley found the most isolated spot he could so that for one week the team would be together without many distractions. That meant sleeping in sparser, almost dorm-like facilities (almost more what you see with a football training camp, not the four-star accommodations basketball teams are used to). A week where team officials will preach sacrifice with a backdrop of military people making huge sacrifices for their country. The message is not subtle.

Who knows if it will work, but once they leave the base the lights will get brighter. When the Heat play their first exhibition game, NBATV will cover it live (Oct. 5). And it will be like that the rest of the way. A storm of media attention, of fan interest.

But this week, for one week, they will try to get away. And bond. With only 150 media members watching.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?