|Without the Shaq-style fanfare, Marion and Banks join the Heat|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 08 February 2008 12:44|
``Hello, everyone,'' he said, smiling broadly.
OK, so Marion's welcome-to-Miami moment Friday lacked the thousands of delirious fans, water cannons, and tractor-trailer Shaquille O'Neal had at his celebrated arrival four years ago.
But this day, at least in the eyes of Heat coach Pat Riley, was no less significant.
He hopes Marion, a four-time All-Star forward, and point guard Marcus Banks - whom Miami acquired Wednesday in the stunning deal that sent O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns - are the first two pieces in a quick rebuilding project in South Florida.
``Today is really about change, it's about moving on, it's about getting on with what's going to happen in the Miami Heat's future,'' Riley said. ``And these are two people who are going to start that.''
2006 NBA champions who are now the league's worst team at 9-39 this season - hosts the Los Angeles Lakers.
They seemed eager to get started, and eager to play for Riley, too.
``As long as they're hard-working, as long as they're in shape, as long as they're professional and as long as they're unselfish, and if they've got a little nastiness in them along the way, then we're not going to have any problems,'' Riley said.
The trade caught both Marion and Banks, like just about everyone else, off-guard.
Marion was napping when the word of the pending deal came out Tuesday, and said he awoke to see 20 missed calls on his cell phone. He finally picked up when Banks dialed his number, frantically asking him what was happening.
Just like that, they went from the best team in the West to the worst team in the East. Oddly, though, neither seemed to mind that much.
``The sky's the limit,'' Marion said. ``Can't get any worse. We can only get better now.''
Marion averaged 15.8 points and 9.9 rebounds in 47 games this season with the Suns, with career averages of 18.4 points and 10 rebounds, and can also defend just about anyone on the floor. He has a $17 million player option for next season, yet indicated that if he had to choose now, he'd lean toward staying in Miami.
``I'm here and I'm ready for a new start,'' Marion said. ``I'm in it for the long haul.''
aged 5.2 points primarily as Steve Nash's backup with the Suns this season. He's only started 35 times since entering the league, and has rarely gotten the consistent minutes that all players crave.
But Riley suggested that Banks would get some sort of shot in Miami, which could lose Jason Williams to free agency after the season - assuming that Williams isn't dealt somewhere first, which remains a possibility.
``I think it's a big opportunity for me,'' Banks said. ``I spent a year and a half in Phoenix, learning behind Steve Nash, and can't wait to get the opportunity to get on the court.''
From the Heat perspective, the biggest key over the next couple months may be seeing how Marion and 2006 finals MVP Dwyane Wade mesh as teammates.
They were Olympic teammates with USA Basketball in the past and, by all accounts, have a good relationship. And their styles of play would seem to fit nicely with one another, as both tend to flourish in the open floor.
``He's a very talented player,'' Marion said. ``I've got much love for D-Wade.''
Riley hasn't been shy about touting how he thinks Wade and Marion could fare together, touting them as possibly a new version of what Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen - a dynamic guard-forward pairing - were in Chicago during the 1990s.
And with the new personnel could come a new style of Heat play, Riley said.
``We're going to turn this around as fast as we can,'' Riley said. ``Whatever style it takes to win, that's what it's going to take. But always, with me, it starts with hard work and conditioning, defense and rebounding, and then let's go. That'll get you out into the open court.''