Sports

Heat wrap up training camp in The Bahamas

The Miami Heat completed a five-day training camp with an open practice in front of local basketball fans on Saturday in the Grand Ballroom at Baha Mar.

The five-day camp began on Tuesday with closed practices through Friday. The team also got the youth involved with its Jr. Heat clinic.

For team captain and veteran Udonis Haslem, this is his final year as a player in the NBA. He said it was a dream come to The Bahamas to start off his final year in The Bahamas.

“It was a great week,” Haslem said. “We got some work in. There was a little bit of rain. It held up pretty good. The young guys went out on the water slides while the older ones were able to get in some golf. It was a good balance of hard work and a mental break. There was a little solitude where you can go to your room and be by yourself, and tap in, or whatever. We had everything here that we needed to be successful and get a good start to the season.”

FTX Digital Markets, a partner of the Heat, facilitated the trip. The Heat also held training camps in The Bahamas in 2013 and 2016. Making the trip to The Bahamas this year were star players Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro, among others.

Haslem, who was at the first two training camps here, came suited up for the open practice session but did not go through the drills. However, he was vocal. At 42 years old and entering his 20th season, he said that some small injuries come with the age. As local fans watched and cheered them on as they went through fast break drills, half-court set plays and a full-court mini game, Haslem said that the atmosphere felt like a home game.

“When we come to The Bahamas it is so much love. They know our backgrounds, our history, my history with the Heat. They know my history of coming to The Bahamas and just spending time with the locals and hanging out under the dock (bridge). Also, doing the local things and enjoying the city and being a regular person, not separate myself, and always being able to be touched by the people, is something I embrace. They embraced me and I embraced them – its a match made in Heaven for both of us,” Haslem said.

Vice President of Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for FTX Digital Markets Valdez Russell spoke about the community efforts by the Heat.

“Young people experienced an incredible opportunity as they participated in the Jr. Heat clinics,” Russell said. “The clinic’s coaching staff spoke highly of the talent they saw and expressed optimism about future collaborations in The Bahamas. At FTX, we recognize and commend individuals who give of their time and talent to harness and nurture Bahamian student-athletes.”

Haslem said their main goal this season is to win an NBA title. They lost in seven games to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals last season – one game away from advancing to the NBA Championship.

“We always have championship expectations. We do not come into a season thinking about anything else. We understand there is a long way to go before we get there. There are steps we have to take, and we have continued to bank that equity to stay healthy. Championship is always the goal for us. We don’t come with any other expectation – we don’t like to waste our time,” Haslem stated.

Russell stated that FTX Digital Markets will continue to do their part in collaborating with international partners and local stakeholders in developing sports in The Bahamas.

In the 2021-2022 season, the Heat finished with a 53-29 win/loss record. The team, which is coached by Erik Spoelstra, secured the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but lost to the number two seeded Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat left The Bahamas on Saturday afternoon after its open practice session. They returned to Miami to get their preseason underway. They will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7:30 p.m. at the FTX Arena in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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