There's a lot to get excited about this year in Miami. The Heat's made many positive moves in the past few months. First, they drafted a stud out of Marquette, six-foot-four guard Dwayne Wade, with the fifth overall pick. Next, coach Pat Riley got a top free agent he's been coveting for years in Lamar Odom. The silky-smooth six-foot-ten swingman has a penchant for play-making and an ability to defend four positions. Think Scottie Pippen or, as Riley has mentioned, Magic Johnson. The fact that Riley is comparing Odom to Magic, quite possibly the best NBA baller of all time, should bode well for Heat fans.
Gone are familiar faces like Eddie House, Mike James, and Anthony Carter. The Heat also lost the face of the franchise for the better part of a decade in Alonzo Mourning. Zo took the money and ran to New Jersey, leaving us with quite a gaping hole in the paint. Slight Center Loren Woods and power forwards John Wallace, Udonis Haslem, and Samaki Walker have been brought in to aid in the heavy-duty work down low.
Cynics will question a starting lineup of basically four shooting guards and a power forward. No question the style and tempo of play will be a fast transition type of basketball. It's fun to watch, but the fun stops when the losses accumulate.
Some will also wonder if Riley has anything left in his tank, this being his ninth season in Miami, these past few wearing on him more than normal with all the second-guessing and all the losses. Let's hope 2003 is brighter than last season, when the Heat went 25-57. But one would think Riley has earned one more shot, and God knows he's trying. Hey, the man even took a 10 percent pay cut two weeks ago to help the budget and save jobs.
You'll have a chance to get an up-close and personal look at the 2003 squad and critique all these new moves when the Heat opens its 2003 preseason against the Philadelphia 76ers at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 7, at American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Call 786-777-HOOP. -- Russ Evans
The race is on
Yikes. A glance through an Internet search on powerboats yields more info about fatalities than anything else. "Approaching anyone in the water with a powerboat is potentially dangerous," says one site. Thanks, Capt. Obvious! Your idea of powerboating might involve James Bond in some gadget-laden contraption giving chase to a leggy vixen on the French Riviera. But there are folks who take boating very seriously, hence the need for them to race boats with names like the Extractor and the Devastator at speeds of more than 150 mph and receive a trophy for it. On Friday and Saturday, the "2003 Child SMILE America Tour" presents the "Fort Lauderdale Offshore Grand Prix," two days of powerboat-racing and competition. In addition, the New Auto Toy Store features exotic boats and cars, racing apparel, team and vendor booths, autograph sessions, and a Victory Lane party afterward. The events take place at the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort and Yachting Center (801 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Racer check-in begins at 9 a.m. Friday, and the races start at 10 a.m. Saturday. Call 954-764-2233. -- Audra Schroeder
Timing Is Everything
Just call it like it is and you're a winner
Guess what! There's a road race this weekend. Oh, I know what you're thinking. You'd rather be anywhere else than another boring race, right? I mean, gag me with a pair of Reeboks -- not another lame jogging contest! Well, this isn't just another lame jogging contest, because there's a twist.
This is the second-annual Prediction Run, which begins at 8 a.m. Saturday. The race is a three-mile run over the streets of downtown West Palm Beach, and you're probably wondering what the hell is so different about this one. Well, the fastest runners will not necessarily win the race. The victor will be the contestant who predicts his finish time closest to the actual clocked amount. All you've got to do is estimate how quickly, or slowly for some, you can traverse a three-mile distance. Kinda reminds you of the whole tortoise and rabbit tale, huh? Registration is $15. Call 561-838-9060, or visit www.palmbeachroadrunners.com. -- Russ Evans
Wave That Flag
Pigskin season is finally here, and children of all ages are beginning to toss the football, draw plays in the dirt, sprint and scamper across the gridiron, and add terms like wishbone and hail mary to their vocabularies. What better way to welcome in autumn than with an old-fashioned football tournament? The "Run N Gun Flag Football Championship" is being held Saturday and Sunday at Brian Piccolo Park (9501 Sheridan St., Pembroke Pines). The two-day tournament is open to players 8 and older and offers four skill-specific divisions: co-ed, recreational, competitive, and top gun. Each team is allowed six players on a roster, with competition following a 4-on-4 noncontact flag format.
Play gets started at 9 a.m. both days, and the top three teams in each division will compete in a Sunday-afternoon playoff. Team registration ranges from $150 for co-ed to $220 for top gun. If you think you've got a group ready for the challenge, call 1-866-4-RUNGUN, or visit www.runnguntour.com. -- Russ Evans