7 Miami Heat No 'Zo means the heat's on $86 Million Man Brian Grant, as well as some aging vets, to fill the void

October 30, 2000

Pat Riley, coach of four NBA champions and winner of 16 division
titles in 18 years, thrives on challenges. With the powerful
Lakers he demanded three-peats. With the Knicks he rebuilt a
floundering franchise by instilling a sense of tenacious
dedication. As for the Heat...well, this year anyway, it
appeared only the Western Conference champion would be standing
between Riley and his fifth title. His off-season acquisitions of
Eddie Jones, Brian Grant and Anthony Mason, combined with the
re-signing of floor leader Tim Hardaway, made Miami the runaway
favorite in the Eastern Conference.

Then, at the start of training camp, Riley lost arguably the
conference's most dominant player, center Alonzo Mourning, who
will sit out the season while undergoing treatment for focal
glomerulosclerosis, which can lead to kidney failure. Most
coaches in the same position would act as if they were the ones
with the ailing kidneys. Not Riley. His personal concerns for
Mourning aside, the Heat coach behaves as if he's every bit as
comfortable being a mere contender as he had being the heavy
favorite. "Now we're pushing forward and trying to retool on the
run," he says.

True, Riley might not look so buoyant if the Knicks hadn't traded
Patrick Ewing. Miami will remain a power because few conference
rivals are capable of exploiting the absence of Mourning. In
Grant and Mason the Heat still have a strong low-post presence, a
rarity in the East these days. Jones gives them an athletic
scorer and defender on the perimeter, and Hardaway is still one
of the game's better clutch shooters.

How far Miami goes in the postseason will depend largely on the
health of Grant and Hardaway, who were hampered by injuries last
year. When Grant's agent, Mark Bartelstein, asked his client
about the possibility of joining the Heat this summer, Grant
initially wanted no part of it. "My first thought was, 'I'm not
going to Miami,'" says the injury-prone forward, who hasn't
played more than 63 games in any of the last four seasons. "You
hear so many stories. Would I be able to get up to the level
Riley commands of us? Is my body going to be able to hold up to
that kind of commitment?"

Riley spent three hours with Grant before making the
sign-and-trade deal that brought the 28-year-old forward to
Miami. "He sensed my concerns," Grant says. "He told me, 'I'm not
as tough as I used to be.'" Grant believes he's more likely to
avoid injury this season because of his improved conditioning.
"Instead of holding back and protecting my body, I'm pushing
through it," he says.

In Mourning's absence, the 6'9", 250-pound Grant will have to
play the pivot more often than he anticipated, spelling Duane
Causwell. At least he's no longer in Portland, where he
frequently had to defend against the likes of Shaquille O'Neal
and Tim Duncan. For the Heat to make an extended postseason push,
older players such as Hardaway (34), Mason (33) and Dan Majerle
(35) will also have to play more prominent roles than had been
expected.

As a result of his off-season workouts with Mourning's personal
trainer, James Lloyd, Hardaway arrived at training camp in his
best shape in years. In trying to create better chemistry on the
court, he has also been a more vocal floor leader. "It's going to
be a slow process," says Hardaway, who signed a one-year deal
that could pay him up to $14 million, "because everybody came
into camp thinking that we were going to have the whole team
together."

Riley, for one, isn't giving up on this season. "There's still
enough talent here to win a lot of games," he says.

--I.T.

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO TALL ORDER Grant will do more time in the pivot, but at least the East is short on centers.

In Fact

Pat Riley, who enters the season with 999 regular-season
victories, will join Toronto's Lenny Wilkens (1,179) as the only
other coach to reach 1,000. Riley is the alltime leader in
postseason coaching victories, with 155.

Projected Lineup

STARTERS 1999-2000 KEY STATS
PVR*

SF Anthony Mason[1]11.6 ppg 8.5 rpg 4.5 apg 0.90 spg 48.0 FG%
66

PF Brian Grant[1] 7.3 ppg 5.5 rpg 0.51 spg 0.44 bpg 49.1 FG%
38

C Duane Causwell 2.6 ppg 1.9 rpg 0.64 bpg 54.1 FG% 68.4 FT%
218

SG Eddie Jones[1] 20.1 ppg 4.8 rpg 4.2 apg 2.67 spg 37.5 3FG%
16

PG Tim Hardaway 13.4 ppg 7.4 apg 2.9 rpg 0.94 spg 38.6 FG%
68

BENCH 1999-2000 KEY STATS
PVR*

G-F Dan Majerle 7.3 ppg 4.8 rpg 3.0 apg 1.29 spg 36.2 3FG%
132

G Anthony Carter 6.3 ppg 4.8 apg 2.5 rpg 1.18 spg 39.5 FG%
184

F Don MacLean[1] 2.6 ppg 1.4 rpg 36.7 FG% 33.3 3FG% 66.7 FT%
267

C Todd Fuller[1] 3.3 ppg 2.7 rpg 0.20 bpg 41.8 FG% 60.4 FT%
271

F-G Bruce Bowen 2.8 ppg 1.4 rpg 37.1 FG% 46.6 3FG% 58.1 FT%
288

[1]New acquisition (R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 113)

THE BOOK
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Heat

"It may seem like the Heat overpaid Brian Grant, but Pat Riley
was positioning himself for a three-year title run. If Miami
wants to stay among the top two or three teams in the East
without Alonzo Mourning, Grant has to play like an $86 million
player....Everything was pointing to Mourning having an MVP-type
year. He was going to cover up a lot of their defensive
problems, get the rebounds to make the transition game go and,
with the lack of quality centers in the East, probably have a
breakout year offensively....Don't forget, they have to replace
P.J. Brown, too. He was a huge part of their identity as a
defensive team, a rebounding team, a tough team....They have a
great situation with Tim Hardaway and Anthony Carter. Hardaway
gives them great shotmaking and playmaking. Then you get that
energetic defense off the bench from Carter, who can also make
the tough shots....They can still be one of the top three teams
in the East because of Anthony Mason. They'll run a lot of the
offense through him and control the tempo that way."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)