BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Chris Bosh was the final Miami Heat player to leave the court after practice Tuesday.
It was unintentionally symbolic.
Bosh insisted the first Heat practice of training camp carried no extra significance to him, not after his 2014-15 season was cut short by a blood clot that was potentially life- and career-threatening. But to the franchise, perhaps the biggest takeaway from Day 1 was how Bosh and Josh McRoberts – who were lost to illness and injury a year ago – were finally back on the floor.
“I’ve been blessed to put that situation behind me,” Bosh said. “That’s the best part about all of this. I have no worries. I’m just able to go out there.”
The day wasn’t perfect for Miami. It was supposed to be the first time that this season’s projected starting five of Bosh, Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside were all on the floor together. That never happened last year, since Dragic was acquired on the same day that Bosh was deemed out for the season.
And it still hasn’t happened. Whiteside missed the first practice after straining a calf muscle while conditioning last week, and will be re-evaluated before camp resumes on Tuesday.
“I’m just taking a couple days off, just to take it day-by-day,” Whiteside said.
He didn’t sound worried. After what the Heat went through last season, they also didn’t sound overly concerned.
McRoberts was considered one of the key signees in the summer of 2014 after LeBron James left Miami to go back to Cleveland. He missed most of camp with a toe problem, then appeared in only 17 games before being shut down in early December because of knee surgery. But like Bosh, who missed the final 30 games last season because of the clot, McRoberts was back on the floor Tuesday and moving without any apparent issues.
“The first day of training camp isn’t always the day you’re looking forward to most, just because it’s a tough day and getting back in the swing of things,” McRoberts said. “But just to be out here, I missed it, I missed it a lot. To be out here with everybody and competing again, running up and down, it was a lot of fun.”
That word – fun – isn’t always necessarily tied to the first day of camp, especially Heat camp. The first session went on for more than two hours, was virtually all about defense and the lone stretch of offensive drills toward the very end of practice might be best described as a shot-clanging, sloppy-playing, turnover-fest, which is exactly what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expected.
Spoelstra entered last season with a playbook that was 70 percent filled with things to run through McRoberts and Bosh. That playbook was basically thrown out early last season, though now some of those concepts can return.
“They both make the game look a whole lot easier, because of their skillsets,” Spoelstra said. “Anything you’re trying to do, how you envision it when Josh or C.B. is on the floor, it flows a lot better, it goes a little more to design and that shows and speaks to their versatility.”
Spoelstra clearly liked what he saw from the first 2-1/2 hour practice.
“This is what we do,” Spoelstra said. “We’re wired to get out here and work. Coaches and staff, we like practices more than anything.”
Notes: Spoelstra changed the first day’s schedule in part because of lessons learned from former Heat coach Ron Rothstein – who passed along some tips he picked up long ago from former Detroit coach Chuck Daly. The evening on-court practice was scratched, replaced by a team meeting and evening classroom teaching session. … Dwyane Wade’s assessment of the first practice of his 13th season: “No matter how many times you go through training camp, you just want to get that first day out of the way. There’s always a little nervous energy that first day. It’s good, man. This is what you’re born to do … the start of what everyone hopes will be special.”