That was the sentiment during the Miami Heat’s media day Friday when the team talked about the new season and reintroduced players to the public at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
Pre-season play begins Sunday, Oct. 7, against the Atlanta Hawks and the regular season opens Tuesday, Oct. 30, against the Boston Celtics.
Expectations were high in 2010 when the “Big Three” comprising Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade signed on to become a mega force for Miami.
But hopes were dashed when the Dallas Mavericks held on to beat the Heat in the finals at home in 2011.
The fan backlash was fierce but, one year later, James led the team to victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at the triple “A” and, for most, all was forgiven.
“Nothing has chang-ed. I’m still living in the same neighborhood but I’m not getting things thrown at me anymore,” Spoelstra joked during the media day press conference.
During the finals Wade played with an injury to his left knee and had surgery that caused him to miss the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Spoelstra said he is expecting Wade to run, shoot and rest until he is ready to return fully.
“He’s been building up his leg strength, his knee strength, his conditioning every single day,” he said. “We’d like to be able to put him in a position to be able to play regular season games and be ready for game one.”
Wade said he intends to work even harder to get better and continue to improve.
“Last year I did what I could with what I was dealing with. I just want to be an efficient player when I’m on the basketball court,” he said. “My goal is to get better and stronger.
Coming off surgery you still you still have to work just as hard, maybe harder. It’s a process and I’m willing to take [the time]. As athletes, we like to push ourselves but you don’t want to do too much [or] it will set you back.”
James, last season’s MVP and Olympic gold medalist, said he is thinking about more championship rings, not about his legacy just yet.
“I’ve accomplished many goals but I’m not satisfied with that. I’m going to continue to get better to lead this team the best way I know how,” he said.
“I know what has been accomplished in this league throughout the years. It’s always great when I see my name ranked up there with some of the ‘greats’ because I know what they have done.”
Spoelstra described Bosh as fast and athletic and much stronger than he appears, rejecting speculations that Bosh needs to put on weight.
“I’m not trying to bulk up. I asked Spoelstra what he wanted from me and he said to play fast,” Bosh said.
“You can’t play fast and add pounds. That just doesn’t make any sense for me.”
Winning the championship and adding veteran players add another level of comfort this season, Mario Chalmers said.
“It’s just going to be more comfortable. We’re adding two new pieces, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis,” he said. “With those two veteran guys that have been in the NBA for a long time, I’m sure they’ll catch up quicker. We’ll be right back on track.”