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Miami Heat are a throwback to Pat Riley’s Knicks

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Victor Oladipo and Jimmy Butler aren’t here for any bullshit.

Victor Oladipo and Jimmy Butler aren’t here for any bullshit.
Image: Getty Images

The Miami Heat are the only NBA contender built like a UFC promotion. Knowing that it was inevitable that Heat culture nearly turned that energy inward during a lousy loss to the Golden State Warriors. Udonis Haslem threatening to beat Jimmy Butler’s ass and Eric Spoelstra asking if Butler wanted to “fight him” is the elixir that keeps team President Pat Riley young. Why else would he keep assembling these backyard brawler squads?

Stylistically and personality-wise, this mix of players is the closest match to the DNA of Riley’s most pugnacious 90s Knicks teams than any we’ve seen in the last three decades. Put a mirror up and Kyle Lowry, Udonis Haslem, Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and P.J. Tucker resemble pseudo-clones of Anthony Mason, John Starks, Patrick Ewing, Mark Jackson and Charles Oakley.

Thirty years ago, Anthony Mason rocked Xavier McDaniel’s chin during his first training camp and set the Knicks’ tone for the rest of the decade. This Heat squad has captured that same mix of ethanol and gasoline in a bottle without a true superstar in the fold. Jimmy Butler has never punched an opponent, but the infamous practice against Karl-Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins where Butler called them soft and proved it on the court is the stuff of legend.

Udonis Haslem spent much of his Heat career as the Oakley to Dwyane Wade’s Jordan. He’s just here to set screens, box out, and potentially box if any whippersnapper steps out of line. It’s nearly been a year since his infamous three minutes, four points, one rebound, one ejection performance against the Philadelphia 76ers. Soon after, Miami rewarded him with another one-year contract so he could return for his 18th season.

After the two-year, $30 million extension they gave Andre Iguodala in 2020 expired, Miami signed P.J. Tucker to a 2-year, $14 million contract. Tucker is a 6-foot-5 micro-ball center who averages single digit points and plays basketball like a Monster truck. Tucker is either tussling in a cloud of dust on the floor or drilling one or two corner 3s a night.

Markieff Morris missed 58 games due to whiplash, stemming from an incident in which he committed a hard foul on Nikola Jokić and didn’t keep his head on a swivel when the reigning MVP retaliated. In the aftermath, Markieff’s twin brother, Marcus, promised revenge, which prompted the Jokić brothers to join Twitter and inform him they wanted all the smoke.

Miami Heat rotation players don’t have highlight videos. They have fight compilations.

Both teams needed a rabble rouser too. John Starks had one of the more punchable faces of the 90s, and he used that skill to bait opponents into doing so.The G-League gave Riley access to a whole host of John Starkses. Most haven’t been as obnoxious, but they’ve found spirited guards who can mix it up and won’t back down.

In 2015, he discovered Tyler Johnson, who repeatedly had his teeth dislodged during practice and games. The Heat have turned to their former two-way contract players Max Strus and Gabe Vincent this season. Strus played in 47 of the 49 games he was available for before the All-Star break, and Vincent played in 50 of the 54 games he was available for.

The ’94 Knicks, who came one win away from being crowned NBA champions, were one of the six lowest-scoring teams in the entire NBA. Riley constructed teams are here to bully and ball. If the Heat emerge from the East, it will be because their hand-to-hand combat All-Stars hoisted the rest of the league up a flagpole by their draws.

Miami’s defense ranks fifth in points per 100 possessions and defends the paint better than any team in the league. Beating Miami requires hot shooting from outside.

Miami has committed more fouls this season than 25 other teams and has drawn nearly double the charges of any team in the NBA.

They may seem like a primitive squad built to win in the ’90s, but if you wanna get into a long-distance contest with the Heat, they can do that too. Miami is shooting a league-best 37.3 percent beyond the arc even though Butler has been a 20 percent shooter from 3-point range all season.

Center Bam Adebayo is built like a defensive end but switches like a safety on the perimeter. That and the fact that his nickname was Bam are likely the only two things Riley needed to see in his scouting report to draft Adebayo in 2017.

Those Knicks were renowned for their scrappiness, but they couldn’t finish the job. Riley’s won with superstar-laden teams stacked to the brim with Hall of Famers like Shaq, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Magic, Kareem and LeBron, but he’s proving a point with this Heat team.

Two years ago, Miami reached the Finals by thriving in the confines of the bubble. This season, they have a slim grip on the No. 1 seed in the East after a 2-game skid. In a superstar-driven league, the Heat’s hard-nosed culture has thrived in a cosmopolitan megalopolis.





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Cameron Norrie books place in Korea Open quarter-finals with win over Kaichi Uchida | Tennis News

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Cameron Norrie is through to the quarter-finals of the Korea Open after seeing off Kaichi Uchida 6-2 6-2.

The British No 1 took a little over an hour to see off Uchida in straight sets and progress into the last eight in Seoul.

Norrie, the No 2 seed for the tournament, now faces Jenson Brooksby in the quarter-finals as he aims for his third tournament win of the year.

America’s Brooksby overcame Korean No 1 Kwon Soon-woo in their last-16 meeting, triumphing 6-3 6-4 over the home favourite.

Norrie has already won the Delray Beach Open and Lyon Open so far this year, and the Wimbledon semi-finalist’s performances have seen him move into the top 10 in the ATP rankings for the first time.

The 27-year-old is now aiming for a strong finish to the season which would ensure he finishes in the top eight on the Race to Turin and qualifies for a place in November’s ATP World Finals.





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Marlins RP Richard Bleier called for 3 balks in 1 at-bat

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Richard Bleier takes...issues with being called for three balks.

Richard Bleier takes…issues with being called for three balks.
Image: Getty Images

Is Marlins’ reliever Richard Bleier the first Jewish pitcher to be called for a balk on Rosh Hashanah? I don’t know. What is a stone-cold fact is coming into Tuesday’s game against the Mets, Bleier had made 572 professional baseball appearances over the course of 15 years — never in his seven big league seasons. He had committed nine balks before facing Pete Alonso at Citi Field with two outs in the eighth inning. His career total after facing Alonso: 12.

Yup, he gained a third of his prior career total in one at-bat, with all three being called by the game’s first-base umpire John Tumpane. Bleier is a lefty, so the closest jump to his pitching hand would be Tumpane. What move did the 35-year-old use to blatantly deceive the hitter? He was deemed to have not fully stopped his pitching motion with the ball in his glove.

Bleier was confused and a tad upset the first time it happened. He’d just faced three batters with the exact same motion and no balk had been called. When Tumpane called a balk loud enough where the field mics picked it up two pitches later, Bleier was visibly upset. When it happened for a third time, Don Mattingly, willingly got ejected — as well as Bleier, who was perturbed as he couldn’t comprehend what he was doing wrong while Jeff McNeil scored without the ball reaching the outfield. After an infield single, there were three easy 90-foot trots to score him.

The inning ended with an Alonso groundout and the Marlins ended up winning the game by the exact scoreline that lit up the scoreboard after McNeil crossed the plate, 6-4. Bleier became the seventh pitcher to be called for a balk three times in the same inning and the first to do it since Jim Gott in 1988, per the Elias Sports Bureau. He’s the only pitcher to do it three times in the same at-bat since 1900.

Umpiring quartets and teams bump into each other all over MLB’s circuit, so it’s hard to believe Tumpane and friends hadn’t seen Bleier throw before. And if he made the same motion facing the first three batters of the eighth inning, was Tumpane not paying attention? These were the first three MLB walks for Bleier, who’ll also represent Team Israel at next year’s World Baseball Classic.

[email protected]: Capps’ hop-step delivery analyzed

Punishing Bleier for a unique delivery is atrocious and comical. Look at how former Mariner and Marlin Carter Capps pitches the ball, with a hop-step similar to a javelin thrower than pitcher. His foot leaves the rubber with the ball in his hand. He’s literally closer to the mound and has a better chance at a strikeout. Isn’t that an unfair advantage? And Capps committed a balk zero times in his 129 career MLB appearances. If Bleier hadn’t been called for a balk in his MLB career before Tuesday, he’s not the one that has to adjust. Tumpane needs to keep himself in check. 



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Ajax 0-1 Arsenal (2-3 agg): Vivianne Miedema strike seals Champions League qualification

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After Ajax’s late goal at Meadow Park last week, the tie was finely poised and neither side were in much of a rush to give up much ground. While Arsenal did probe Lize Kop’s goal through Stina Blackstenius, both of the Swede’s efforts were far too tame and the home side were even more toothless in the opening 45 minutes.

Five minutes after half-time, however, Arsenal had their breakthrough. Unable to play a well-organised Dutch side, Vivianne Miedema grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and hit a fine finish to break the deadlock, as powerful as it was precise.

Manager Jonas Eidevall was vocal throughout, urging his team not to drop too deep, although at times it appeared as if the lashing rain under gloomy Dutch skies had drowned his voice out.

Although defensively sound, Nadine Noordam was inches away from teeing up Tiny Hoekstra, with the striker narrowly missing her connection for what would have been a tap-in following some intricate build-up play in Arsenal’s penalty box.

Still, Arsenal saw it out and capped off a fantastic week, albeit the sight of Rafaelle Souza limping off in the first-half will be a concern, as will Beth Mead’s withdrawal minutes after coming on as a result of a clash of heads.

For the 14th season in a row, Arsenal will be playing Champions League football.



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