Players excited to be here; looking to enjoy ‘island life’
Back in The Bahamas for a third time in a decade, the Miami Heat wrapped up their first day of training camp in the Grand Ballroom at Baha Mar on Tuesday.
The press were allowed inside at the tail end of the practice session and were able to catch up with Assistant Coach Christopher Quinn and several players.
Quinn, who is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach for the Heat, led the practice session in the absence of Head Coach Eric Spoelstra who stayed in Miami, Florida, for the birth of his third child. Quinn said that he and the team are grateful to be training at Baha Mar in The Bahamas.
“It was a cool new experience for me. I am in constant communication with Spo (Coach Spoelstra). Last night and this morning, and a lot of practice planning, is still his. We are just working ahead. Our job is to get off to the right start at training camp. Being here is a way for us to connect and bond for the upcoming season,” Quinn said.
Coach Spoelstra is expected to join the team’s practice today.
Jimmy Butler, the number one option for the Heat, who has been with the team from 2019, is no stranger to The Bahamas. However, this is his first time here in this capacity.
“We have a long way to go. It is about getting back into the groove and a rhythm and having fun. These first couple days are about having fun and getting back with the guys and basketball,” Butler said.
Apart from putting in work on the court, the clean-shaved and dreadlocked forward, his new look, has a secondary goal while he is here on business.
“Dominoes … to all my Bahamian people, I will be in the streets playing dominoes. Look for me. I am here. I am here,” Butler said. “It is special. So many good people here who I’m able to now call my family and my friends. Like seriously, I’m here all the time. I love it here and the people here. I am so glad that the Heat organization allowed our players to be here.”
This is Heat forward Udonis Haslem’s 20th and final season in the National Basketball Association (NBA). This is his third trip to The Bahamas for training camp, as the Heat came here in 2013 and again in 2016.
“I try not to think about it,” Haslem said. “I look at it as business as usual when I walked in here. I had enough time to think and get that out of the way. It is now about the team and the goal of winning a championship.”
Quinn spoke about how different it is to have training camp here in The Bahamas than in Miami.
“It is very different. We are here first to work and prepare for the season, but it is a great time to be together to connect and bond constantly throughout the day. It is great to do things on and off the court together and it has a totally different feel from when we were in Miami. It helps to build the team differently,” Quinn said. “We want our guys to have fun and to enjoy this beautiful place. We will give them enough time so they can do that. The amenities here at the resort are incredible.”
Haslem stated what trips like these mean for the team.
“It forces that bond and connection. I think that we are big on that here. One of the pillars of this team is enjoying someone else’s success. I think to genuinely do that, we have to know our teammates. The type of situations after practice, recovery and spending time together, lunch, dinner, and free time, makes it worthwhile. Those things build the relationships that we need going into the season,” Haslem said.
Like Butler, Haslem frequents The Bahamas that has a large Heat fanbase. He hopes the younger players get to see that support.
“They show love over here and I appreciate it,” Haslem said. “I think our fanbase continues to grow over here. These young guys finally get a chance to come over here, but I come over here a lot and I interact. I like to spend time under the dock and go to McKenzie’s and hang out with the people. We have a lot of Heat fans over here, so I am glad that our guys got a chance to come over and experience some of that love.”
Heat center Bam Adebayo said that everyone has been working out this past summer and it is time to bring it all together. His believes his role is about to expand as he enters his fifth year in the league – all with the Heat. He said being in The Bahamas for training camp is different than training in Florida. He further said that it reminds him of the bubble experience that the NBA created to finish the 2019-2020 season, which paused in March 2020 because of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was completed in a bubble format.
“The Bahamians make the difference. It is off-site and a different scenery. It gives guys a different opportunity to get a different change of pace. We haven’t done something like this since the bubble. The rookies have never been in a bubble. It is a good experience for them and all of us,” Adebayo said.
Last season, the Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals but fell short 4-3 to the Boston Celtics. They finished regular season play as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference with a 53-29 win/loss record – two games ahead of the Celtics who entered the playoffs as the second seeded team.
The Heat’s training camp resumes today and will continue through Saturday. The team returns to Miami on Saturday afternoon.