Best Heat Player 2001 | Eddie House | Sports & Recreation | South Florida
On a team the age and health problems of which were its undoing, House's youth and upside win him the prize. When the Heat made the Arizona State guard the 37th pick in last year's NBA draft, the question heard at breakfast tables across South Florida was, "Who is Eddie House?" He's a scorer, we were told -- in fact he once scored 61 points in an overtime college game. He was touted as a Glen Rice-caliber shooter. So how did we get him? Well, he's a 'tweener. At six-foot-one, he was too short for the two-guard slot and didn't have the ball-handling skills to play the point. Coach Pat Riley gambled on him anyway; judging by House's rookie season, it was a hell of a bet. Number 5 has sparked several victories with his play off the bench and shows an almost uncanny ability to stroke the net with his jumper. He's deceptively quick and practices as hard as anybody on the team. But he played only in about a third of the games this past season, and even then for scant minutes. Sure, he got a little extra PT in the playoff debacle, but that was a desperation move by Riley as the team fell apart against the Hornets. Next season House must be not only in the Heat's house but on the floor. We think he can be something special, as in Miami's answer to The Answer. (OK, maybe not that good, but who knows?) The bottom line is, we agree with Riley's 12-year-old daughter, who is known to wear an "FEH" T-shirt: "Free Eddie House!"
Famous for its annual Renaissance festival, Quiet Waters boasts some qualities that have nothing to do with thousands of pseudo-Brits juggling, forsoothing, and quaffing swill. Unbeknownst to many it's a light hiking and camping locale. The park, open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., offers a great escape from the suburbanized domesticity of its surroundings with 430 acres of greenery packed with squirrels, birds, and the occasional raccoon. If you don't want to hoof it, detour onto the oft-used bike trails for a shin-banging jaunt through the park's northwestern corner. You can camp overnight, but make reservations first. This place isn't as hush-hush as its name implies.

Precious few spots exist in Broward and Palm Beach counties where you can let loose a pebble from your slingshot, much less a volley of buckshot from your gun, without hitting the side of a building. But the Corbett Wildlife Area offers a whopping 60,000 acres with game aplenty. Managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the preserve is home to deer, wild hogs, turkeys, and a plethora of other critters. During small-game season in January and February, you can blast away at squirrels jumping through the oak hammocks or pursue quail, rabbit, opossum, raccoon, beaver, coyote, armadillo, and skunk. Turkey season runs from March to April and November through January. Bow-and-arrow aficionados can hunt for deer and small game in late August and early September. For those who prefer bagging deer and small game à la pioneer, with muzzleloaders, the season runs during portions of September and October. A $26.50 permit lets you hunt at any of the state's 100 wildlife preserves. Hunters must also buy the appropriate license. The wildlife commission will set exact dates for the 2001-02 hunting seasons in June.
At five feet nine inches tall, Michael McCarthy is an unlikely jockey -- until you realize he weighs only 110 pounds, at least during racing season. (Off-season he lets his weight balloon to 128 pounds.) To maintain his slender build, McCarthy eats like a supermodel. To maintain his competitive edge, he works harder than most jockeys half his size. In season at Gulfstream Park, you'll find him out there early in the morning exercising the horses, a practice other big-name jockeys frequently eschew. There's just something beautiful about McCarthy, nicknamed the Flamingo, guiding a mount around the track. And when you realize the determination he needs to prosper in this cutthroat vocation, the sight is all the more inspiring.
Ballpark financing woes aside, the Florida Marlins can be just as dreary on the field: waiting for Alex Gonzalez to chase yet another breaking ball in the dirt or watching Matt Clement walk the bases loaded -- again. And games can be especially unpleasant during those hot summer Sundays, when the hammering sun makes just sitting in the stands akin to a full workout. But parents, take heart. The real attraction for your little Little Leaguer comes after Sunday afternoon games, when the team opens up the base paths so tykes 12 years old or younger can trot from first to home -- usually with a smiling Billy the Marlin slapping 'em five. Queue up before the ninth inning in the corridor behind first base. Then await your kid's turn. But keep an eye peeled: Ours nearly disappeared into left field before a friendly usher steered him home.
Apologies to Cliff and P-Rock, both of whom might go 30-30 this year if they stay healthy, but Demp gets the nod. In a starting rotation full of question marks -- as in, "Can Matt Clement find the strike zone?" "Can Brad Penny build on last year's strong finish?" "Can A.J. Burnett and Chuck Smith come back from early injuries?" -- Ryan Dempster provides the one exclamation point -- as in, "Damn! That slider just fell off the friggin' table!" Now if he could just pitch a few innings in relief, the Marlins staff would have no problem. At 23 years old, he's a bit young for the burden of being the ace, but if anyone can handle the pressure, it's this hard-throwin', easy-goin', joke-tellin' Canuck.
We hate to repeat ourselves, but in this case we can't help it. The Russian Rocket wrapped up his second consecutive 50-plus scoring season this year with 59 total points. His numbers lead the league for the third year straight and total 11 more goals than the closest runner-up, Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bure notched 30 percent of the Cats' 190 goals overall, the most any player has scored for his team in a season. But none of these numbers truly does justice to his game. Even if you're following the puck at a game or on a TV screen, the only way you can appreciate his moves is in the slow-motion replay. He's scored on every team he's faced, is still one of the quickest players on the ice, and, as he just turned 30 years old in March, he'll be lighting up goalies for many years to come.
South Florida has its share of topnotch pro coaches. Dave Wannstedt is a fundamentally sound boss who sets a good tone for his football team. (We're forgiving him for keeping a hurt Jay Fiedler on the field to lose key games when he had a proven backup QB in Damon Huard.) In round ball, we're lucky to have Pat Riley, but without Magic and Kareem around to close the deal, Riley's team tends to choke and fade at the end of the year. (And Jamal Mashburn, who was foolishly traded last year -- and yes, we were criticizing the trade when it happened -- personally removed a lot of luster from Riley's slicked-back hair by burning his old team in the first round this year.) That leaves us with John Boles, the best coach of the lot. We admit we wondered about him at first. He doesn't look like the sharpest cleat on the shoe. He always seems to be opening his eyes as wide as possible to keep from falling asleep in the dugout. But don't let that fool you. Boles single-handedly proves that nice guys don't always finish last. When thousands of fickle "fans" whined about the Great Huizenga Sell-Off, Boles was working with GM Dave Dombrowski to put the pieces together again. And he's done a masterful job of bringing a team with a payroll the size of A-Rod's monthly dry cleaning bill to respectability during the past two years. Despite a lukewarm start, we expect the Marlins to battle for a wild card spot this year. Bolesy, rest those eyes. You've earned a nap.
Now that South Florida is perilously close to maximum density, places to pitch a tent are hard to come by. Developers who map out suburban hells like Weston simply don't pay much attention to camping. But we'll always have Markham Park. In this 666-acre county idyll, you'll find mountain bike trails, tennis courts, a personal-watercraft lake, boating, a swimming pool, an observatory, and 96 campsites. Most of the sites are of the drive-up variety; however, a handful of "primitive" spots are nestled in a patch of thick Australian pines. It ain't exactly the Alps, but it's pure South Florida. Markham is a popular place, especially on weekends, so call first to check availability.
"If rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, alligators, scorpions, wasps, mosquitoes, chiggers, horseflies, spiders, palmetto stumps, swamp, sugar sand, sawgrass, briers, wild pigs, or World War II ordnance bother you, go back to Yahoo! The rest of you, listen up!" Welcome to the opening lines of the Website of Club Scrub, a group that has spent nearly every Sunday morning for the last year clearing a single-track, mountain bike path through the dense pineland of the 11,500-acre Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Hard-core stump-jumpers have been coming to the former Camp Murphy army base, just north of the Palm Beach line in Martin County, since the early 1990s. But it wasn't until Mark Nelson was named park manager later that decade that work began on the long-awaited trail. As former top dog of the Oleta River State Recreation Area, a mecca for mountain bikers in northeastern Miami-Dade County, Nelson had experience with the lunacy of the off-road set. So far, with Nelson's support, Club Scrub members have cleared more than five miles of trail. They hope to have an additional ten opened before year's end. Because the trail is a work in progress, each visit brings a new surprise. In late February, for instance, bikers could take a roughly ten-foot-high jump off a concrete pad that was left behind when the army camp closed in 1944. Marked with a red sign warning, "Experts Only," the jump proved to be too extreme, says Club Scrub president Steve Bucina. "No one can do it," he adds. "We'll probably put a ramp down the back side." But even without such practical adjustments, the trail offers far more than your average trek through Florida wilderness. It winds around the remains of barracks and other buildings once occupied by servicemen who were sent to the outpost for jungle warfare and radar training. Some hills are actually old bunkers. As you pedal through the place, ponder this question: Which is worse, training in South Florida heat or fighting a war?

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