No organization prides itself on conditioning like the Miami Heat. Players who go there traditionally get into the best shape of their careers. Pat Riley felt that slipped last season and that was part of the reason for the Heat’s slippage. This season they were bringing back the hard line.
Case in point: Veteran James Johnson did not pass his conditioning test, so he is not with the team through training camp until he gets there.
Here is the team’s official statement:
“The Miami Heat announced today that James Johnson will miss the beginning of camp because he fell short of our conditioning requirements. Once he fulfills and maintains those requirements, he will rejoin the team.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra addressed it this way, via Ira Winderman at the Sun-Sentinel.
“JJ is not here,” coach Erik Spoelstra said at the close of the Heat’s first of two-a-day practices. “He did not meet the requirements that he knew about and we set for him coming into camp. He is still very much a part of our team and we hope to get him back soon. The rest of it is handled in the statement. And we want what’s best for him and hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
This is not unprecedented for the Heat, back in 2006 Pat Riley banished Antoine Walker and James Posey from camp until they passed conditioning tests.
Two seasons ago Johnson had surgery for “athletic pubalgia” — what is commonly called a sports hernia (even though it’s not technically a hernia) — but his recovery from that slowed him down last season. This season he was back and hoping to prove he was healthy and could be a contributor.
To do that, he’s first got to get up to the Heat’s high level of conditioning expectations.