“More than anything, the season’s right around the corner,” Carter said Thursday morning, as a few of his teammates did some shooting _ something he watched from the side because of his safety concerns.
When the Magic arrived to practice Friday morning, the court was still wet and slippery _ though it was unclear then if the moisture was from the ice below or the process of cleaning the court _ and the NBA 3-point lines hadn’t been installed. Workers were on the floor with mops and brooms, and fans were brought in to help circulate air and speed up the drying process.
Some Heat players noticed there were both slippery spots and spots with too much grip when they were on the floor warming up about two hours before the scheduled tip-off. Guard Dwyane Wade, returning to practice from an injured hamstring but not scheduled to play Friday night anyway, said he thought it was too risky for the teams to take the floor.
“I felt that the floor wasn’t really a good floor,” Wade said. “Just walking on the floor, you could tell.”
Ticketholders were told they would receive full refunds at their point of purchase, and Leiweke, who started his job at the arena three weeks ago, said the arena will also try “to make this right” to fans _ some of whom flew in from Dallas and Albany, N.Y., for the game.
Carl Leibert brought his son, Christian, to the game for his 8th birthday Friday night. Christian had been an avid Magic fan but became a Heat fan this summer when Miami signed James and Chris Bosh to join Wade. The boy, in James’ No. 6 Heat jersey, was in tears after the cancellation was announced.
“We don’t get to see NBA games here in the Tampa Bay area, much less two of the best teams in the NBA,” Carl Leibert said. “It’s more than disappointing for it to end this way.”
Van Gundy tried to inject some humor into the proceedings.
“I say we should go to an outdoor court, call your own and let’s go,” Van Gundy said.
Orlando and Miami meet next Friday in the Heat home opener, which will be attended by Commissioner David Stern.
AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall and Associated Press Writer Antonio Gonzalez contributed to this story.