On the day LeBron James attended a “Welcome Home, LeBron” rally in Akron, his first public event in Ohio since returning to the Cavaliers, the Heat showered fans with optimism, including the release of a Pat Riley video and the tweeting of a old photo showing Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem holding the Larry O’Brien trophy.
In a three minute, ten second video released on the Heat's Twitter account and web site, Riley said: “I’m really excited about the team we’ve put together. I am not going to make any guarantees. But I will guarantee you this: You will see one of the most competitive, one of most entertaining teams you’ve seen in a long time.
“I am as excited as I've ever been to let you know we are a contender. You cannot ever look at the Miami Heat and not think of us as being a contender. I’ve always been someone who believes in the big picture.... We have an owner who thinks big. We are not going to be satisfied with anything that doesn’t come close to winning a championship. That’s what we’re about.”
Riley acknowledged James in the video, saying: “We had a player here who we will never forget, LeBron James. He for four years, along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, created an incredible frenzy in the city of Miami…. While we enjoyed those four years, we can also expect there might be another four or five more of those years in front of us, also. That’s what I’m looking forward to.
“With Chris Bosh at center or power forward and Chris Andersen… and the addition of Luol Deng and Josh McRobert and Danny Granger. New additions we feel are going to help us…. With Dwyane Wade, our franchise player for the past 12 years,… at the two guard, Mario Chalmers, a player we feel very confident about, back at starting point guard. Along with… the backbone of team, Udonis Haslem, we’re ready to move on into the future….
“I’ve been one for 19 years proud to say this is my home. I’m going on my 20th year. One message I want to communicate to you, as Micky Arison has stated in his letter,… is we have something very unique and very special for you in the future.
“We’ve had a great four years. It was an historic run. It was a fun run. Two championships, four finals, a lot of great highlights, a lot of great moments, a lot of great feelings. I want to let you know there is a lot more of that ahead of us.”
A Heat spokesperson said the Riley video was the first of several Heat videos that will be released this summer but said he did not know whether it was designed to coincidence with James’ event at the University of Akron, which was being held as part of his annual Wheelers for Education family event. Nearly 30,000 were expected to attend the event tonight.
The Heat said that its aggressive public relations approach should not be taken as any indication that ticket sales have fallen off. The Heat said that is not the case and that the deadline to renew Heat season tickets came before James left in free agency and the renewal rate was very high. Individual tickets are not on sale yet. The regular season schedule will be released next Wednesday at 6 p.m.
### If the Heat wants to add a veteran shooting guard to back up Dwyane Wade, free agent options are now extremely limited.
Jordan Crawford, Shannon Brown, Leandro Barbosa, Toney Douglas and swingmen Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jordan Hamilton are perhaps the only ones available who would have a chance to crack the Heat’s rotation. Most are hoping for more than the minimum deals Miami can offer. (Same with free agent small forward Shawn Marion, who reportedly is considering Cleveland and Indiana.)
Though a late-September addition from that group (or another player) remains quite possible, the Heat could end up playing Danny Granger and starting point guard Mario Chalmers at backup shooting guard.
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