- Michael Wallace, ESPN Staff Writer
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LeBron James and the Miami Heat were among teams that didn't have many problems with the league's decision earlier this month to switch the NBA Finals format. But as long as officials are considering those sorts of changes, Heat players would also like to see the championship ring ceremony moved.
James appreciates the acknowledgment and festivities associated with players, coaches and team executives receiving their championship rings. But he'd like to share in the emotional moments and memories on a night other than the regular-season opener – or any game night.
“It is what it is – there's nothing we can do about it,” James said Sunday as the Heat prepared for Tuesday's ring ceremony that will take place before the season opener against Chicago. “It's something we'd rather do [earlier], take care of last year. After we get our rings, then that's last year. And then we'll go from there.”
The Heat are 1-1 in season openers they played after receiving their championship rings. They suffered a 42-point loss to Chicago in the 2006-07 opener and defeated Boston 120-107 in the first game last season. Part of Tuesday's pregame ceremony will include a new player introduction video and also a commemorative tribute to last season's title run that featured Game 7 victories against Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals and over San Antonio in the Finals.
James said it will be difficult to keep up with everything going on and still remain focused entirely on the Bulls.
“It's hard,” James said. “I'm going to see some of it. You don't take it for granted. We did some special things last year, and this is a time to look back at it one more time. I definitely won't lose sight of what's in front of me.”
Heat forward Udonis Haslem said he would like to see the ring presentation take place on the same day as the championship parade, although such a quick turnaround for a jeweler would seem difficult. Star guard Dwyane Wade said holding the event the night before the season opener would work even better.
“Put it on TV, sell it out for the fans in Miami and let them enjoy it,” Wade said. “And the next day come in for the game.”
While much has been made of Michael Beasley shaving his head after spending the past five years sporting a variation of braids and dreadlocks, the once-troubled forward isn't completely buying into the notion that his decision was a sign of maturity.
Players who were teammates of Beasley during his first stint with the Heat as the No. 2 overall pick in 2008 said he has shown growth both as a player and a person from his first two seasons. Beasley also said he was “a different knucklehead the first time around” with Miami.
But that had little to do with what he called a spontaneous decision to go with a new look.
“Whatever you all want to call it, that's what you all call it,” Beasley told reporters Sunday. “You all call it good, call it good. You call it bad, call it bad. It's not that. It's just my own decision.”
Beasley, who signed a nonguaranteed contract for one season to return to Miami, has one of the final 15 roster spots heading into Tuesday's game. Several teammates, from Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem to Chris Bosh and Roger Mason Jr., have taken Beasley aside to make sure he's focused and headed in the right direction. Bosh, who cut his dreadlocks after signing with the Heat in 2010, joked Sunday that he can even offer counseling to Beasley about how to get through the drastic transition.
“You lose your strength for a minute,” Bosh said. “You'll be like Samson out there a little bit. It takes some time to get it back. And it's different. It's a transformation.”
Haslem, however, has probably had the biggest influence on Beasley so far.
“It's like the kid in school [who] keeps telling mom the teacher is picking on you in the first, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grade,” Haslem said of Beasley. “Then your mom starts to tell you, 'All these teachers ain't picking on you. It's got to be something you're doing wrong.' I think [Beasley] is taking a look in the mirror and seeing he has to change some things. We're seeing that take place as we go.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said everyone on the roster participated on some level in Sunday's practice. That includes center Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who aggravated a right-foot injury during Friday's preseason finale against Brooklyn. Andersen was on the court during the final stages of the Heat's scrimmage session Sunday and is expected to be available Tuesday.
Did you know?
The Heat successfully lobbied to help guard Roger Mason Jr. get the “Jr.” printed alongside his last name on his NBA jersey this season. Mason, an 11-year veteran, said he had been trying for years to add the distinction to his jersey, in part as a tribute to his deceased father.
Quote of the day
“They stayed in there until about 3 a.m. talking about the roster and the last few spots. At that point, I realized what we were doing. The next 2&189; hours, I'm sure we were just going to be arguing and talking in circles. I was just trying to be efficient with my weekend.”
- Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, on bailing early during a weekend meeting with Pat Riley and the front-office staff on final roster cuts
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