Tag: Florida panhandle

Winderman: Heat not hosting your ordinary training camp


Heat_huddle.jpgSo how do you get to the Heat’s secluded training camp in the Florida Panhandle?

Well, from most places, you get there by connecting through Atlanta.

And then, from the airport, you get there by driving past one Waffle House, then another, and then another.

But that actually doesn’t get you anywhere, at least not onto Hurlburt Field, the Air Force installation the Heat is calling home this week.

No, instead, if you’re with the media, you pull across the street to a dirt road by the paintball field and await a school bus that takes you inside the gate.

Inside, the massive complex has the feel of a college campus, albeit one with vintage jets and helicopters featured along the front gate.

But this is no ordinary campus.

So from the school bus you are ushered into a waiting room.

From there, there is one bathroom break. Women line up first, then the men.

Even though the rest room is mere steps away.

You never lose sight of where you are.

And don’t even think about misplacing your security badge, the one received only after your secret, personal code is entered.

From there, the courteous staff escorts the media into the gym, where it waits until it is eventually escorted back out.

No this is not Palm Beach Community College or Florida International University or the University of Miami, places where the Heat previously has held training camp.

And it’s certainly not the Jewish Community Center just north of Miami, where the senior citizens would walk on the track above as then-coach Ron Rothstein would attempt to conduct practice below.

But it is a unique and refreshing change of pace from what typically is experienced at this time of year.

And invigorating.

Because even with this talented a cast, training camp still is training camp, where the Patrick Beverleys, Kenny Hasbroucks and Shavlik Randolphs take rotations with the regulars.

To see how much hosting the Heat meant to those on the base was to experience what sports were intended to be all along.

A welcomed relief.

In a unique season, the Heat has offered a unique way to start.

And the waffles aren’t half bad, either.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Miami Heat may be taking their training camp talents to the panhandle

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Thumbnail image for Heat_logo.gifThere are going to be a hurricane of media attention swirling around the Miami Heat this season. That is going to start at training camp day one and follow them everywhere, all season. It’s the price of the coup.

But for training camp, when the Heat will be trying to mold and meld a lot of new parts, they’d like some alone time. Which they will not get in Miami because, well, it’s Miami.

So how about the Florida panhandle? Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel suggests in a column the Heat are giving serious consideration to taking their camp north (which is farther into the South, one of the many odd things about Florida).

The Heat will hold its media day on Sept. 27 in Miami, likely at the University of Miami, because of a Shakira concert that night at American Airlines Arena, but then might leave immediately afterward, traveling far enough in the state to put it in the Central time zone.

It is a late decision by the team, which spent this past weekend on a final scouting mission for its camp location, with a team executive flying to Pensacola. Heat President Pat Riley hinted at such a move last week, saying it was something he believed would be to his players’ liking.

Camps are closed to the public. This may slightly lessen the actual media at the camp, but you are not going to lessen the attention paid to the notes that do come out of that camp, wherever you hold it.

The media circus has come to Miami. Nothing is changing that.