Miami stays red-hot before hosting Lin, Knicks
MIAMI — There is talk that Thursday’s game between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks might have not one, but two presidents on hand. The buzz is President Barack Obama, in Miami for a fundraiser during the day Thursday, might stop by, and that former President Bill Clinton could show up at a Heat game for the second time this week.
With that in mind, Tuesday’s game between the Heat and Sacramento Kings at AmericanAirlines Arena paled in comparison. The top celebrity apparently visiting was boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.
OK, that’s still a pretty good one. But it’s hardly two presidents, which is what Jeremy Lin’s Knicks could be able to command these days.
As for Mayweather, he tweeted last week that the Heat “got me paid.” He posted a Las Vegas betting slip that showed he put down $50,000 on a Feb. 14 first-half Heat bet at Indiana and won $43,478.25.
Miami didn’t exactly look like the team that made Mayweather so happy during that resounding 105-90 win over the Pacers. But he seemingly wasn’t complaining about the action Tuesday even though the Heat looked sluggish in a 120-108 win over the Kings.
“I’m just a basketball fan. I love basketball like everyone else,” Mayweather said in a brief interview with FOX Sports Florida, not wanting to give any details on what he’s doing in Miami or on anything else.
While there was less to love about Tuesday’s version of the Heat than in previous games, they still won for a seventh straight time, all by double digits. But it was a bit of a struggle considering they led by just three points early in the fourth quarter against the downtrodden Kings.
“A win is a win in this league,” Heat forward LeBron James said.
James had joked Monday that not playing much in the fourth quarter these days for the dominant Heat is hurting his scoring average. He at least got in for three minutes in the fourth Tuesday, but it didn’t help his average as James’ 18 points for the game were about 10 under it.
Still, James had a pair of awesome second-quarter blocks that eventually led to buckets by guard Dwyane Wade. They will be all over the highlight shows.
Wade was at the top of his game Tuesday. He scored a game-high 30 points and handed out 10 assists.
“I don’t know if my points are loud nowadays,” the 30-year-old said when it was suggested he scored a quiet 30. “Back in the day, it was a little louder. I might hit six or seven in a row.”
Wade, who had a game-high 27 points two days earlier in the Orlando game attended by Clinton, wasn’t the only guy on the Heat for whom there was talk of yesteryear. Forward Udonis Haslem, 31, had an awesome tip dunk in the fourth quarter that led James to declare it was a “throwback.”
“The guys were giving me a hard time about that,” said Haslem, whose Heat also got 6-of-12 3-point shooting and 20 points from guard Mario Chalmers. “Guys are saying they didn’t know I still had it in me.”
But some didn’t even consider that Haslem’s top highlight Thursday. His seven rebounds gave him 4,549 for his nine-year career, all with the Heat, and moved him into second place on the franchise’s all-time list. He passed Rony Seikaly (4,544) but still trails Alonzo Mourning (4,807).
“(Haslem) eventually will be the mayor of this town,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game about the Miami native and team captain who is quite popular among fans and teammates because of his relentless play.
It sounded like a joke, but it wasn’t. Haslem said he really is thinking of running one day for mayor.
“I plan on it. I hope so,” said Haslem, who said his platform would be to help disadvantaged youth in the city.
Haslem said Heat guard James Jones, also a Miami native, also has talked about running for mayor. But Jones said he won’t.
“I’m a guy behind the scenes,” Jones said. “I don’t want to be followed by the paparazzi.”
There might be plenty of those around Thursday for the nationally televised game against the Knicks. That, of course, would be because of Lin, on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week for a second straight time.
Try to top ever top that, LeBron.
“It’s going to be fun and electrifying,” James said of Thursday’s game. “Knowing the rivalry and history between the Heat and the Knicks, it could be one of the most watched games we’ve had in a long time, especially with what Jeremy Lin is doing.”
The celebrities figure to really be out Thursday. Maybe Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson will stop by, making Mayweather the second-most notable boxer to show up at a Heat game this week.
But the real eyes will be on presidents. Will Obama and Clinton both be on hand?
Even if neither is, Haslem’s Heat teammates surely won’t mind if he is the top politician type in the house.