Heat-Magic III: Where’s The Fire?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Who knew all it took was a little time for everyone to calm down and come to their senses? The tone of the discourse has changed dramatically between the Magic and Heat over the course of the past month or so.

For the most part, both sides have abandoned the snarky rhetoric for a much more measured and controlled sense of respect for one another, you heard Stan Van Gundy (above) praising the Heat. It’s a stark contrast from the verbal shots fired back and forth in the summer and then again early this season, when the war of the words was far more impressive than the actual back and forth on the court.

They’ve met twice already this season, with each team winning on its home floor. Tonight’s matchup in Orlando is the first between these two teams since the day before Thanksgiving, and since the Magic revamped their team with a blockbuster trade that brough Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas to town.

While Van Gundy has spent more time poking his own team, admitting recently that “we are not ready to contend,” Heat star LeBron James broke ranks, briefly, and spoke freely about his intentions (apparently he also threw a party last night at an Orlando night spot as his warm up act) and true feeling about this rivalry:

“The simple fact that it’s a division opponent, that means a lot,” James told reporters. “Trying to win your division is very key. And also playing exceptionally well on the road is definitely key. That definitely helps later on in the season. And being an Orlando team that basically said a lot of things about us in the offseason, that definitely adds a little bit to the fire.”

He stopped short of a Bart Scott-style shout out to the next opponent, but make it clear that he’s anxious to hit the Amway Center court tonight.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” isn’t exactly like B. Scott’s “Can’t Wait!”

But we’ll make it work around here.

To be fair to our friends from Miami, the chatter from the Heat is much more grounded these days compared to what has gone on at any other time prior to this point. The Heat have been through their downs and up and down again, riding the wave of this season the way any team has to when they are transitioning so many new face on the fly and dealing with the injuries they’ve had to deal with.

They know there are certain advantages their competition will have over them now and throughout this season.

“You talk about Boston, you talk about Orlando or the Lakers, we’re never going to catch those guys in experience,” Dwyane Wade said. “I think the stat is, Boston is 30-15 in the playoffs since they’ve been together. We’re 0-0.”

It’s telling that Wade included Orlando in that mix.

We’ll see if any of this yapping means anything tonight, when the Heat and Magic go toe-to-toe on TNT (8 p.m. ET).

11 Comments

  1. pintados says:

    just want to point out regarding how bias most in the NBA or maybe even the NBA itself towards James. How many times have I read in a lot of games where James was the best player in a win over some team but I find Wade’s photo on the cover and the recognition was towards Wade’s effort when it was James who put up the numbers in scoring and in assist.

    To me, if you lead in assist and in scoring… that is leadership… and bonuses on rebounds, blocks and steals…..that is James…

    I think that it was all because a lot of people hated “the Decision”…. And a lot of people love’s Kobe…so they got to hate Lebron no matter what… They have forgotten that Kobe was as egoistic, self-righteous and show-off as Lebron (if that’s what most people think) , if not even worse, in Kobe’s first 7 seasons while Kobe haven’t proven anything yet at that time (plus a rape case). He was just lucky to have Shaq and Phil Jackson.

    James on the other hand had proven more than Kobe in his first 7 seasons (if not more than Michael Jordan), 2 season MVP and 2 all-star MVP…. And see what a big difference it made to Cavs? Cavs 8 wins only and 23 losing streak now only means that…… LEBRON BROUGHT A REALLY DUMB TEAM TO THE PLAYOFFS, TWICE TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS AND ONCE TO THE NBA FINALS IN HIS 6 SEASONS.

    Most people just became so biased on James and just forget how valuable James’ game is.

  2. joe says:

    Howard – “superman” – i thought you are decent man – looks like you are garbage …
    You can mimic LeBron before game , but you can’t mimic his game – did he … you ? 51 points … you got served

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      Yep he should quit and try doing comedy cause his game is nothing near nice. Probably mad because everyone in Florida went to the southbeach diet this year.

  3. Gary says:

    Haha, take that howard. Big man but little game. Why do people insist on provoking James? He could have dropped 70 but whatever.

  4. Quest?on says:

    Why does Howard insist on making fun of Lebron James before the game. You know he takes that stuff personally.

    23pts first quarter. Ouch.

    When will people learn not to make fun of the King?

  5. iwillfilm says:

    Ummmmm, I can’t wait to see this game. I think it will be a fairly accurate assessment as to where these teams current are, Magic don’t have Bass, Heat don’t have Haslem, so there both short 1 key player, this is going to be a close game. Both teams are hungry, will definitely be a playoff type atmosphere. But if heat take an early lead, and deflate the crowd, I say heat wins it today. Bosh needs to a have a typical awesome night that he used to when playing Toronto against the magic, I think one game he scored 44 points in a loss, but still killed, hope he has a big night tonight.

  6. ephraim says:

    i love magic but i think heat will win this game….

  7. Always_Crappy_Losers_Union ACLU says:

    this should be a great game cant wait

  8. Fact Not Fiction says:

    I can’t wait! James will have a big game I bet.

  9. Daniel Natalizi says:

    Just correct last line, Heat and Magic (not Lakers)