Midway through this NBA season, the Miami Heat boasted the top record in the league, Dwyane Wade looked to be the second-best player from his draft class, and Shaq was the sole name on everyone's very short list of MVP candidates. Over the past month, Flash is still considered just a notch below LeBron for honors from the 2003 draft class, but his team stumbled to the finish line, Phoenix passed them for home-court advantage throughout the Finals, and now Suns point guard Steve Nash figures to steal the Most Valuable trophy from the Diesel's paws. Even worse for the Heat is Shaq's health, with the team's championship hopes resting on Superman's rather large and bruised right thigh. Coach Stan Van Gundy's squad finds itself in a decent fight with the New Jersey Nets to emerge from the NBA's opening round, a scenario deemed asinine just a few weeks back. The series continues Wednesday night with Game Five at the Triple A (American Airlines Arena, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Tip-off for the nationally televised game is 8 p.m. Call 866-777-HOOP. -- Russ Evans
Will anyone get hurt at AFC? Absolutely.
Have you ever wondered who'd win a fight between a Greco-Roman wrestler and a ninja? Who hasn't? Such a scenario could actually unfold at the Absolute Fighting Championships this Saturday at War Memorial Auditorium (800 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale). Contestants with various fighting styles will enter the ring to pummel the absolute crap out of one another to the delight of a bloodthirsty crowd. If you've ever seen the Ultimate Fighting Championships, International Fighting Championships, Xtreme Fighting Championships, or even World Extreme Fighting Championships, you have a good idea what AFC is all about: bloody, no-holds-barred battles between guys wearing what appear to be hot pants. Catch the carnage when the first bell rings at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25 to $35. Call 954-828-5380. -- Paul A. Leone
The mystical, yin/yang-inspired exercises of tai chi will cover the globe on Saturday quicker than David Carradine on steroids. World Tai Chi & Qigong Day offers individuals in 60 countries a chance to "Strum the Lute" and "Grasp the Sparrow" in unison. The Kung Fu Conservatory (7840 Glades Rd., Ste. 150, Boca Raton) will be poised like the Monkey Fairy, ready to lead all local enthusiasts in a free 10 a.m. workshop. The event will unfold like the gentle lotus for attendees of all experience levels, then spread its wings like the mighty crane as participants in six continents purge themselves of mental debris. Call 561-367-7788. -- Jamie Laughlin
Going... Going... Doggone
Fido may not understand the infield fly rule, but he'll still enjoy Dog Days of Summer on Saturday, when the Jupiter Hammerheads host the Vero Beach Dodgers at Roger Dean Stadium (4751 Main St., Jupiter). Gates open at 5 p.m. for the 6:05 p.m. game. Tickets cost $6 to $8, with free admission for any dog on a leash. Call 561-775-1818, or visit www.jupiterhammerheads.com. -- Paul A. Leone