Posts Tagged ‘Udonis Haslem’

LeBron Returns To Cleveland Days To Push Heat To Game 5 Win


MIAMI – The last time the San Antonio Spurs were in The Finals, they swept LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. So maybe they’re happy to hear James say that he “kind of went back to my Cleveland days” in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Dwyane Wade, playing with a bum knee, scored 10 points in 41 minutes. Chris Bosh, playing with a sprained ankle, scored seven points in 33 minutes. You could replace them with 2007 versions of Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden and there might not have been much of a difference on Thursday.

So, with his team down four at halftime, the MVP knew he had to take charge. He did just that, scoring or assisting on 25 of the Heat’s 30 third-quarter points and leading them to a 90-79 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

“We were in wait mode in the first half, instead of going and getting it,” James said afterward. “I took it upon myself to stop waiting and just go.”

The Pacers won the other three quarters, 66-60. The Heat won the third, 30-13. And they’re taking their 3-2 series lead back to Indianapolis for Game 6 on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT).

If the 2013 Heat are suddenly the 2007 Cavs, they don’t have much of a chance against the Spurs. Heck, they might not make it through this series. But 2013 LeBron James is not 2007 LeBron James, and that may be all the difference.

Though their 40 first-half points were as much about pace as they were about efficiency, the Heat found something that worked — James in the high post — in the third. It wasn’t a new look for the Heat, but it was in such large doses. And the Pacers couldn’t stop it, as Miami scored 25 points on the 16 possessions the Heat went to it, including 13 points on six possessions in the 12 minutes that changed the game.

Those 30 third-quarter points came on just 20 possessions, as the Heat, despite the ineffectiveness of two of their three All-Stars, looked like the offensive force they were throughout the regular season. This was a level of efficiency that those Cavs never reached, in part because there was never so much more variety to James’ game in Cleveland. (more…)

Miami Bigs Key to ‘Pace And Space’ Mantra


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra uses the phrase “pace and space” about once every 86 seconds in his post-practice, post-shootaround, pregame and postgame press conferences. “Identity” is another one of Spoelstra’s buzz words. And yeah, the Heat want to attack the basket early and often and space the floor with their 3-point shooters.

Those shooters haven’t exactly been hurting the Indiana Pacers in these Eastern Conference finals. Ray Allen and Shane Battier are a combined 4-for-20 from 3-point range through the first three games. Mike Miller has played a little over six minutes.

But more important in this series has been the spacing of the Heat’s big men, who are providing a counter for Roy Hibbert‘s rim protection.

Chris Bosh has as many threes (4) as Allen and Battier combined, and two of those came when he was left open by a helping Hibbert. Five of Udonis Haslem‘s eight buckets in Game 3 came from outside 15 feet.

And then there’s Chris Andersen, who is a perfect 13-for-13 in the series. All 13 of his baskets have come from the restricted area, lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins. But those buckets have been made possible by Andersen’s initial position on those plays.

Three seconds before Andersen’s first basket of the series, he was standing about 20 feet from the rim. In fact, he had been standing there for 10 seconds as his teammates ran a couple of pick-and-rolls and moved the ball around the perimeter.


Andersen is no threat to shoot from out there. In 54 games with the Heat, he’s 5-for-15 from outside the paint. So Hibbert doesn’t have to venture out there to defend him. But Andersen’s positioning gives his teammates a passing lane when they penetrate and draw Hibbert’s attention.


If Andersen is closer to the basket (or if he’s the roll man in a pick-and-roll), Hibbert has the length and smarts to challenge the ball-handler and cut off the passing lane at the same time. But by pacing the floor so much, the Heat’s bigs force Hibbert to make a difficult choice.

In Game 3, that big spacing gave LeBron James room to operate in the post against Paul George. Now, the Pacers weren’t going to send a double-team at James, but, with his man hanging out in the opposite corner, Hibbert couldn’t get close enough to James to provide much of a threat.


“They really spread us out,” Hibbert said after Game 3, “so I wasn’t able to get down there as much as possible because Birdman was either on the three point line or Haslem was all the way in the corner, deep corner.”

The Pacers have stayed true to their identity and defensive principles all season, so how they defend James in the post in Game 4 on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) may be the most interesting question of these playoffs.

And it’s the Heat’s spacing that makes that decision so difficult. If they leave George on that island, the MVP could have another huge game. But if they send a double, his teammates, including the big men, could make Indiana pay.

Long Season Gets Longer For Pacers’ George — He’s Fine With It

INDIANAPOLIS – If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself, fabled Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle famously said.

And if Indiana Pacers wing player Paul George had known he was going to play this long and hard this season, he might have gone about things a little differently, too.

George never has had a season quite like this. When he takes the floor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse tonight for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT), it will be his 95th game, regular or postseason. He already has logged 3,597 minutes across seven months. Plus practices, plus the All-Star Game.

Compare that to last season: George played in 77 games total in the post-lockout NBA, with two rounds of playoffs for Indiana rather than the three so far. His minutes were lighter — just 2,359.

On sheer workload alone, the difference is staggering. George has played in nearly 20 percent more games than in 2011-12. He has been on the court an astonishing 52.5 percent more.

And that doesn’t even touch the other aspects of his growing game and responsibility for the Pacers. George took a quantum leap in his role for Indiana, stepping into the void opened by Danny Granger‘s knee issues, shouldering the duties of being a primary scorer while maintaining his spot as the Pacers’ premier perimeter defender. He became the focal point of most opposing coaches’ game plan – and soldiered on. At 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds, he became the target of rivals’ hard fouls beyond what he had experienced before and he weathered those, too, without complaint.

Now, so deep into this extended third season of his career, George can look you in the eye and make you believe that, at 23, he’s not fatigued. But feeling tired and being tired can be two different things. And even if he’s fine on both fronts, the reality George faces now is: He has to get better.

“I thought about it the other day,” George said Monday. “Had I trained and really prepared myself for stepping into this role this year, it would have helped me much more. But it’s good that I’m going through this. It’s a learning process. It’s growth for me.””

George did participate last summer with the USA Select Team that provided a practice squad against which Team USA could prep for the London Olympics. That put him up against LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and the rest essentially as a sparring partner. (more…)

Typical Miami Losing Streak? One And Then Done

INDIANAPOLIS – Before he knew it, the words had slipped out and Udonis Haslem wound up revealing the secret of the Miami Heat’s remarkable resiliency in responding to defeats.

Bad rest and bad nutrition.

Somehow that has translated into a team that has gone more than four months, and 60 games, without losing two in a row. And that matters right now because, unless the Indiana Pacers figure out a way over the next week to impose a losing streak on the Heat of at least that duration, the Pacers’ season will be over.
As Haslem tells it, the Heat players are so accustomed to winning that, when they don’t, it’s a complete shock to their systems.

“I can’t really speak for other teams, but for us it’s a sickening feeling,” the veteran Miami forward said after the team’s brief workout at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Monday. “We don’t sleep – and we talk about it the next day, how we didn’t sleep. For me personally, I go home and I don’t want to eat.

“It just brings a sick feeling to my stomach and a sense of desperation that we come back and play the next game with.”

See, it’s the magic elixir that cures losing streak: Bad rest and bad nutrition.

“Don’t tell Bill Foran [the Heat's strength and conditioning coach] that,” Haslem said, with a laugh. “But yeah, it’s weird. We talk about it all the time: Very rarely do we eat or sleep the way we’re supposed to after we lose a game. Especially in the playoffs.”

It’s easy enough to see how Miami might have developed this adverse reaction to scoring fewer points than their opponent. Their 27-game game winning streak that stretched from the start of February to the end of March made losing even once a strange and rare experience for them. Two in a row? They haven’t deal with that since Jan. 10-12, at the start of a six-game trip spent mostly on the West Coast.

Since then, including their 10-2 run so far in the postseason, they are 53-7, an .833 winning percentage. Over a full 82-game schedule, playing at that clip would get the Heat to 72-10, which would match the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ all-time mark.

Asked about Miami’s bounce-back-ability, guard Dwyane Wade sounded a little like some coaches, who live for the “teaching moments” that losing can generate. It’s difficult to get a good team’s full attention when the bottom line looks fine, even when it’s really not.

“When you win, a lot of things are masked,” Wade said. “You don’t really look at everything once you win. But once you lose, you get to break down everything. Our attention to detail coming off a loss is a lot better. We’re a mature team and once the coaches put the game plan in front of us, once they point out the mistakes … we take it for what it is, we try to correct it.”

That explained Miami’s shift from Games 1 and 2 in these East finals when Indiana outplayed them in south Florida to their breakout attack in Game 3. As the series shifted to the Pacers’ building, Miami seized the momentum and the math by scoring 70 points in the first half on 62.8-percent shooting. The attention to detail paid immediate dividends.

“We wish we can not come off losses, but it happens,” LeBron James said, at the risk of sounding a little greedy. “We love the fact that, you know, they took the home court away from us and now ‘Let’s see what we are made of.’ This is a great group of guys that’s always loved, I think, the pressure moments of being 1-1; a team taking our home court away and we have to go on the road to win.”

Considering that it can kill their appetites and steal their sleep, it’s more than just taking offense at another team’s success. The sense of something special slipping away – a shot at winning consecutive NBA championships in thise case – becomes tangible, creating the worry that turns into motivation.

“We have a goal,” Haslem said. “We have a dream we’re trying to reach. When somebody is close to taking that away from us, it places a fear in our gut. Then we come out and lay it on the line.”

As for that threat of losing two in a row as this postseason continues, Haslem found the sports cliché that actually applies in this case. “We’ll take it one game at a time,” he said.

LeBron Takes Pacers To Low-Post Woodshed


INDIANAPOLIS – What the Indiana Pacers endured Sunday night against LeBron James and the Miami Heat — what a global audience saw in all its gory, err, glory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse — ought to have the rest of the NBA feeling afraid. Very afraid.

James in the low post is simply unfair.

This isn’t James, mind you, with a fully developed post game. No one would accuse him yet of boasting a complete arsenal of moves, be they Kevin McHale‘s up-and-under slipperiness, Hakeem Olajuwon‘s footwork and Adrian Dantley‘s rump routines. This is James all raw and athletic; pounding his dribble and bulling his way back; back on the low block until he can just about flick the basketball over his shoulder and over his discouraged defender, who in this case happened to be Indiana’s best player, Paul George.

The man’s torture chamber still is under construction and it’s already more hideous for those who dare to enter than most in the league. Sure, Pacers power forward David West is more polished and experienced at the brutish game down low, but the sense that this is simply wrinkle No. 439 in James’ growing mastery of the game could prove a lot more demoralizing — to Indiana short-term, and to everyone else over time.

LeBron James' shot chart in Game 3

LeBron James’ shot chart in Game 3

“It was something we wanted to get to, to just help settle us and get into a more aggressive attack,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said of the tactic. “We wanted to be a little aggressive, a little more committed to getting into the paint and seeing what would happen.”

Mayhem happened, basically. Not anything frenzied or chaotic, but steady and lethal — like logs fed to a buzz saw. Resistance was futile, the results grim.

“I made a conscious effort to sit down in the post tonight, try to put pressure on the defense,” James said, his 22-point, four-rebound, three-assist game more monstrous than monster. “Spo and the coaching staff wanted me to be down there and my teammates allowed me to do that.”

It didn’t happen immediately. James spent the first half of the first quarter – the first eighth of the game – in his familiar perimeter-oriented, pick-his-spots, get-his-teammates-off gear. But, at 20-19 Heat midway through the period, James backed George down, then spun to bank in a shot from five feet. He went down there again a few possessions later, missing from six feet. And then twice more in the first few minutes of the second quarter for a short hook shot and a layup. George, giving up at least 50 pounds to the brawnier James, stoically tried to hold his ground and pester James’ rhythm and shots, mostly failing.

He had managed to keep the matchup above water through the two games in Miami because their duel there played out in the open floor. But, taken inside, he seemed younger and smaller and shoved back a ways on his budding-star learning curve. George was working so hard defensively, too, that much of his offense went missing (3-for-10 for 13 points, although with eight assists).

“I mean, I saw I had a 1-on-1 matchup,” James said. “They didn’t come down in the post all game [to help], so I just tried to take advantage of it. My teammates gave me space. … Tried to anchor myself down on the block and go to work.”

The fruit of his labor was remarkable. By halftime, James had 18 points and the Heat had 70, the most it had scored in a half so far in the postseason and the most given up by the Pacers. Miami was shooting 62.8 percent, had turned over the ball once and led by 14 points.

Heat veteran Udonis Haslem had 13 points in the half on his way to 17, his biggest offensive night in the playoffs since Game 6 of the 2006 Finals. Haslem was in a groove, both inside and particularly from the left side, hitting eight of his nine shots as reliably as a two-thirds Ray Allen or something.

But really, it could have been anyone. Eventually, it was a little of everyone. The Heat drifted away from James in the post but didn’t miss it, because Allen and Shane Battier hit 3-pointers to oil their hinges a little for what’s left of this series and postseason. Also in the second half, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade played like their aching shoulder and knee, respectively, were distant memories.

For a defending champion that allegedly was so vulnerable as the series shifted to Indianapolis, outplayed in Games 1 and 2 and home-court advantage gone, Miami looked pretty invincible and inevitable again. And left the Pacers grasping for LeBron-in-the-post answers by the time the teams meet again in Game 4 Tuesday night.

“We just have to push him out further,” said George, who’s going to need help from bigs and diggers because he can’t handle this challenge alone. “We understand that’s where he can operate and get easy baskets. I just have to do a better job of battling him down there.”

Center Roy Hibbert tried to shoulder a lot of blame for Indiana’s struggles defensively, noble but not quite accurate. “We have to do a better job of helping Paul out,” he said. “LeBron can’t get five or six dribbles to get a post move. They really spread us out, so I wasn’t able to get down there as much.”

Hibbert wasn’t but James was, generating fright footage that should have both the Pacers and the rest of the league flinching.

Riley’s Thread Ties Streak Record Chase

If the Heat finally run their win streak to 34, break the record of the legendary 1971-72 Lakers and plant their flag in the pages of history, it will likely be the result of something spectacular done by LeBron James. Or heroic by Dwyane Wade. Or timely by Chris Bosh. Or perhaps out-of-this-world unexpected by the likes of Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers.

But making it all happen will have been Pat Riley, the link to past and present. As much as anyone in the game over the past four-plus decades, he’s the thread you cannot pull without some part of the NBA story unraveling — from the Showtime Lakers to the Slow Time Knicks to the South Beach Shuffle.

This steamrolling monster is his creation, a plan so bold and audacious that nobody really thought he could pull it off, and it all grew out of an intense drive that is belied by the image of slicked-back hair and designer suits.

The truth is, he’s always been far more Arm & Hammer than Armani, the Schenectady, N.Y., street tough who absorbed the work ethic of a father who toiled for 22 years in baseball’s minor leagues.

On that historic Lakers team with Hall of Famers Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Gail Goodrich, Riley was a member of the supporting cast, but no less vital to the cause.

“He’s tenacious,” West said recently in a conference call with reporters. “I’d say to him in practice, ‘Go beat the hell out of Goodrich, I’m tired.’ ”

He’d been a high school star and his Linton team took down mighty Lew Alcindor and Power Memorial in 1961. He starred for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky when the Wildcats lost to the first all-black lineup from Texas Western in 1966 and was the No. 7 overall pick in the 1967 NBA draft by the expansion San Diego Rockets.

But by the time he was part of that famous Lakers roster, Riley was like a circus mouse trying to avoid getting trampled by the elephants. He used his wits to survive, sheer hustle to make his presence felt and overall relentlessness to carve out a nine-year NBA career.

“He definitely wanted to play more,” West said. “But it was a special group of guys and, like all of us, he understood that.”

Sure, he would never have won those four championships as a coach in L.A. without stars named Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. He wouldn’t have headlined on Broadway without a marquee star in Patrick Ewing. He wouldn’t be sitting in the middle of this 21st century media-frenzied hullaballoo today without the overpowering phenomenon that is now LeBron. Yet his own past has taught him the value of the cast of formidable role players he has brought to Miami in Battier and Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and Norris Cole.

Miami draws attention for its glamor — James taking the express elevator to the top floor to hammer home the dunk in Orlando or flushing and then scowling at Jason Terry in Boston — but the Heat have become the only team to seriously threaten the 33-game win streak because of a defense that is ferocious, hungry and unforgiving, like their architect.

For all that he has done on the many sidelines and the various front offices, maybe nothing defines him like the 1985 NBA Finals, when the Celtics blasted his Lakers 148-114 in Game 1 in what became known as the Memorial Day Massacre.

Before his team took the floor for Game 2 at the old Boston Garden, Riley repeated words that had once been spoken by his father:

“The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back … Some place, sometime, you are going to have to plant your feet, stand firm, and make a point about who you are and what you believe in. When that time comes, you simply have to do it.”

The Lakers won Game 2 and eventually the series, defeating the Celtics for the first time ever in the postseason to claim one of their most significant championships.

At 68, that drive and resolve are the rhythms that beat at his core, the occasional awkward dance steps on YouTube jammin’ to Bob Marley notwithstanding.

So when James and Bosh were both heading toward free agency three years ago and most NBA teams were scrambling for a way to get their hands on one of them, Riley’s plan was the bigger, bolder and bodacious one. An old friend who’d stopped by for a visit in Miami during that time recalls stepping into a darkened office where Riley sat, half-lit by the beam of a single desk lamp as wisps of smoke from a cigarette rose past his face.

“He reminded me of Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now,” said the friend. “Who knew what was going on inside that head?”

Now we know as we watch his awesome creation keep marching on.

“I’m happy for my friend, Pat Riley,” said West, “who was able to do it as a player and is able to replicate it as an executive.”

The thread through history with ties that bind.

Indiana Sends Heat A Message


INDIANAPOLIS – Paul George got knocked to the floor and three, count ‘em, three Miami Heat players didn’t much like the foul call. Udonis Haslem looked exasperated at the whistle, LeBron James had a sour look on his face and, as James glanced at Dwyane Wade, he then joined in with his own half-skeptical, half-disgusted expression. Haslem went too far and got a technical for his trouble while George, well, he got a little satisfaction.

“I was joking out there with those guys, LeBron and Dwayne Wade,” George said after Indiana’s 102-89 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “I asked ‘em, ‘When is it my time to get some of these calls?’ They joked back and said, ‘We don’t get those.’ I told Wade, ‘the whole first half was for you.’ “

By halftime, George already was lugging three personal fouls. James and Wade had played no-touch defense, nary a foul between them.

“If it happens, it happens,” George, a newly minted 2013 All-Star, said of the league’s alleged superstar treatment. “But I don’t look to get any calls.”

George is looking beyond a few whistles, beyond even the two double-digit victories the Pacers have hung on Miami in the regular season. He and his teammates brought a little extra to Friday’s game because of what it means to them – their strategy, their confidence – over the long haul against the Heat. Which, naturally, means the playoffs, in what could be a chance to avenge their loss last May in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Miami, as defending champions, could shrug off what happened Friday as just one of 82, packing no meaning beyond an off-night against Portland or Milwaukee. That’s the privilege of the rings: freedom from fretting until the best-of-seven stuff starts.

“We move on to the next one,” James said. “We don’t put too much into winning or losing these games. I’m not worried. We’re not worried.”

Mostly, Miami looked peeved, a bit dyspeptic in slipping to 11-11 on the road. Indiana shot 55.7 percent, outrebounded the Heat (doesn’t everyone?) and held them to their lowest scoring output since James, Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 66 on Jan. 8 – and the other Miami players totaled just 11.

Clearly, though, this wasn’t just another game to Indiana.

“We know when we’re playing this team,” said power forward David West, who was a beast with 30 points on 12-for-15 shooting, with seven rebounds and five assists. West had an old-school big man’s night and should have cashed half of Roy Hibbert‘s paycheck, he carried the Indiana center so in the paint.

“We obviously have some confidence from matching up with them in the playoffs last year,” West said. “Mix that with playing well at home [the Pacers have won 13 straight at the Fieldhouse]. But we can’t overreact to it. I mean, it’s a good win against a good team, we did some good things. But we just can’t overreact to it.”

James, after all, had his way most of the night (28 points, six rebounds, 9-for-11 from the line). Miami turned up its defense (a little late, as it turned out) and stymied Indiana’s attack into 17 turnovers. Bosh got in early foul trouble and had just 13 points and two rebounds, but Wade stayed active for 17 points.

“The Heat have two of the best players in the world,” West said, “So, any time they show up, they’re going to bring some extra folks in the building and the energy is going to be different. There were games last year where, in our growth, we didn’t meet that challenge.

“Our team has grown in terms of going out and being able to execute what we’re trying to do. Not getting caught up in the atmosphere and environment, and being able to play some solid basketball.”

Indiana got the better of Miami in the clash of team strengths – its league-best defensive field-goal percentage (.419) vs. the Heat’s league-best offensive percentage (.489). The Pacers fended off a push late in the third quarter. And James and Wade were whistled for six fouls in the second half to just one for their All-Star Pacers buddy.

Well, buddy for a day when George teams up with all those Heat types in Houston.

“I guess it’s what All-Star is about,” George said. “It’s really just a weekend to have some fun with it and enjoy the time. From being real competitive, that’s the only way I’m looking at it, it’s just a break. But when it’s opening back up for the season, it’ll be easy to change the mindset to being competitive against those guys.”

He already is. The Pacers already are.

LeBron Named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman Of The Year staff reports

Sports IllustratedHeat star LeBron James picked up his first Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award on Monday, becoming the first Heat player to grab the award since teammate Dwyane Wade took home honors in 2006. Lee Jenkins‘ story provides a great insight into LeBron’s banner year, during which he was named MVP and powered Miami’s run to its first title since ’06, ending years of disappointment and failed expectations for the superstar. He also won Finals MVP and was a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the London Olympics.

Jenkins recounts much of the Heat’s ride to the championship stage with insightful interviews from James’ teammates (Udonis Haslem, Wade and others), rivals (Paul George, Frank Vogel) as well as the man who built Miami’s now-superteam, Pat Riley. It’s a must-read piece on the man who, in Sports Illustrated‘s opinion, captivated the sports stage more than anyone else in 2012.

LeBron James: 2012-13 Miami Heat Have Potential To Be Better … “Scary”

MIAMI – After a summer spent alongside an elite collection of some of the other best basketball players on the planet, it takes a lot to impress LeBron James.

James capped his biggest year to date with his first NBA title, first Finals MVP and a gold medal won at the London Olympics. But if the Heat are as good as they could be, or as good as James thinks they can be, things could get “scary” around here this season.

With Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade healthy this time around and new additions in veteran stars, and former teammates, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, James sees the 2012-13 version of the Heat being potentially better than the crew that hugged that Larry O’Brien trophy in June.

“We have the potential to be better,” James said Friday during the Heat’s media day. “We have the potential to be a lot better. And that’s scary.”

Scary is the run James is on currently. His perch atop the basketball was secured during a dizzying nine-month stretch that saw him collect virtually every piece of hardware any player could dream of. Any notion that he would ease up and be satisfied with winning his first NBA title was squashed when he took all of six days to enjoy it before heading to Las Vegas for training camp with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in preparation for the Olympics.

Any notion that the Heat would be satisfied with winning just one title during the Big 3 era was washed away when the wooed Allen away from the Celtics and other teams that pursued him in free agency. There were clearly bigger and loftier goals in mind.

“LeBron has a great sense of legacy, not only his own personal legacy, but this team’s legacy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This team was built for something bigger than just making a one-year run. Nothing is guaranteed. We know how difficult it will be … This is a different challenge now. And that’s what you should want is to continue to have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. How do we respond to success? Will it be as motivating and powerful a teacher as the pain and the failure of the year before. I love that. I’m looking forward to that, because we’ll find out a lot more about ourselves in this new journey.”

Greene Grinding His Way Back

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Orien Greene lights up when talking about his high school and college glory days. He battled Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem while starring at Gainesville High and then joined forces with Haslem and fellow NBA stars David Lee and Matt Bonner during his first two college seasons playing for the hometown Florida Gators, all of them destined for long and fruitful careers on basketball’s biggest stage.

But unlike his former teammates, Greene’s path to the league has been littered with detours that he never imagined would be a part of his experience. And both Haslem and Bonner had scrap and claw their way into the league before becoming mainstays for contenders, Bonner in San Antonio.

So when Greene tells you he’s cherishing every minute of his latest attempt to make it back to the NBA, you know it’s coming from the right place.

“It’s definitely gone by in a blur. I can remember playing against Udonis in high school like it was yesterday,” Greene, 30, said of the hoops odyssey he’s been on for the better part of the last decade. “The time goes by just like that.”

Greene has had his taste of the league. The Boston Celtics selected him with the 53rd overall pick in the 2005 Draft, he finished his college career at Louisiana Lafayette, and spent his first season in the NBA as a backup point guard to Delonte West. But poor decision-making off the court cost him his spot on a young Celtics team, one that would be broken up later by the assembly of the famed Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.