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LeBron’s next chapter starts with Heat preseason
MIAMI (AP) - LeBron James walked from the bench moments before tip-off with the traditional stoic look. He filled his hands with rosin powder, threw it into the air to create a white cloud, then clapped his hands three times.
Same as always.
Just totally different.
Amid the sort of fanfare hardly ever associated with a meaningless preseason game, James took the floor with the Miami Heat for the first time Tuesday night in the exhibition opener against the Detroit Pistons. The NBA’s two-time reigning MVP joined Miami this summer, spurning a chance to stay with Cleveland and deciding he wanted to team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade instead.
“The season,” James said, “is back.”
And a mere 3:17 into the season, there was the first problem: Wade limped off the floor, heading to the locker room for evaluation about five minutes later with a strained right hamstring and was ruled out for the rest of the night.
The Big 3 lasted a big three minutes.
No matter: James just took over.
He put much of his repertoire on display in the early going: no-look passes, drives to the rim, 3-pointers, even playing some point guard in the first quarter. It always wasn’t perfect _ he airballed one try from beyond the arc, never saw a wide-open Bosh under the basket on another possession.
At times, it was downright scintillating.
One play after missing Bosh, he set up his new teammate for a dunk that left the former Toronto forward screaming with delight. And with 4.7 seconds left in the first quarter, James ran off a pick set by Udonis Haslem, then spun around before going down the lane for a two-handed dunk _ waving his arms with a flourish after giving Miami a 24-15 lead.
James had 12 points in the first 12 minutes, either scoring or assisting on eight of Miami’s first 11 field goals. He returned to the game with 5:03 left in the half to a raucous ovation.
He took the floor for pregame at 7:18 p.m., one of the last three Heat players to emerge into view, sandwiched between Bosh and Wade, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blaring through the arena as usual. The Heat, clad in black warmups, huddled in a hallway just behind the court, as dozens of people leaned to take photos with their cell phones for the first arrival.
By Bob Dole
The industrious island has proved itself worthy of U.S. inclusion
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