Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heat’s Joel Anthony auditions on world stage

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — This is Joel Anthony’s alternate reality, where he is his team’s star, is allowed to shoot the ball, feels the weight of the moment.

For the Miami Heat centre, it also is somewhat of an audition, to prove he is up to such moments, to show that the Heat may already have their starting center for 2011-12, that Pat Riley may not need to pursue the likes of a Samuel Dalembert on the free-agent market.

As he spoke from Foz de Igaucu, Brazil, where his Canadian national team was wrapping up a warm-up tournament in advance of Wednesday’s start of Olympic qualifying in Argentina, the shot-blocking defensive specialist mentioned how he feels a world away from his day job, as a supporting player to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The 29-year-old native of Montreal is coming off an appearance as a starting center in the NBA Finals, which far trumps the pedigree of Canada’s only other NBA players, seldom-used New York Knicks guard Andy Rautins and San Antonio Spurs first-round pick Cory Joseph, the guard out of Texas.

To put in perspective how different this current universe stands, consider that in exhibitions this past week against Brazil and Puerto Rico, Anthony attempted seven and six shots. Then consider that in his 75 appearances this past season, he did not attempt more than five in any game.

"It’s definitely helped me," he said of receiving freedom to further his game, "because, realistically, it’s not something I’ll be able to do with Miami in the NBA, just because of the talent we have. To be able to get that and develop more as a player, I think it’s really important.

"Pretty much the biggest thing is to try to bring some of those aspects to Miami from my international play. That’s one of the biggest things that I’m trying to focus on, so I can help my team a lot more when I get back to Miami."

There is, however, a more immediate focus, namely securing one of the two 2012 Olympic berths available at this week’s FIBA Americas Championships in Mar del Playa, Argentina. His team, ranked No. 23 in the world and without an Olympic appearance since 2000, enters a decided longshot, considering the struggles during the just-concluded warm-up tournament in Brazil, where the overmatched Canadians went up against Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea in a loss to Puerto Rico and Al Horford, Francisco Garcia and Charlie Villanueva in a game against the Dominican Republic. A more likely goal is finishing within the top five, which would place Canada in a last-chance qualifier next July in advance of the London Games. (The United States, which won last summer’s World Championships, has an automatic Olympic berth and is not participating in the Americas tournament.)

While the sting of falling to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals resonates, so does going winless with the Canadian team in last year’s World Championships.

"It was really tough having the performance that we had last year," said Anthony, who finished fourth in blocked shots at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey. "It was really tough. I know we’re definitely a better team than what we showed last year. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to perform on a big stage in this qualifying, looking to place well enough to give ourselves a chance."

And then he’s looking forward to the end of the lockout and the opportunity to compete for the starting job he seized during the middle of last season’s playoff run.

"Obviously, after the Finals I looked toward this summer to improve a lot more because I feel there’s a lot I have to do to be able to help this team," he said of the Heat. "I have to improve as a player. That’s really my biggest focus right now; that’s what I’m trying to lock in on."


MATTERS OF SEMANTICS: For those who forget, when LeBron James offered his somewhat lamentable prediction upon signing last summer of eventually winning, "not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven..." championships with the Heat, the criticism was nearly as loud as the AmericanAirlines Arena cheers that greeted his prediction. Then came the Finals loss to the Mavericks and Dallas center Tyson Chandler chiming in, "I hear they do things big in Dallas. There can’t just be one — two, three, four, five..." Then, this past week, Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, the player who replaced James as reigning MVP, said in an interview with, "There’s not a doubt in my mind that I’m not going to win a championship. I’m going to win multiple championships. It’s not a doubt in my mind." Out of mockery apparently grows mimicry.

LEBRON, TOO: It was a big week for all things LeBron, including Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson offering a mock LeBron powder toss after a touchdown in a road exhibition against the Cleveland Browns. "It was a LeBron thing. I wasn’t going to do it. See, I had a plan. I had two celebrations planned. I was going to catch the ball, get up, do the shot by (Michael) Jordan and the three pumps," Burleson explained to the Detroit Free Press, alluding to Jordan’s heartbreaking playoff clincher against the Cavaliers in 1989. "I’ve got it all down. I’ve seen it like a million times. But then when I got in the end zone, I was waiting for the ref, and then when I looked at the crowd, the Dawg Pound went crazy. They were cussing me out, talking about my mama, so I was like, ’Forget that. Where’s the powder at?’ Voom!" Burleson acknowledged the Twitter response was not pretty.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY: A staple in the wake of championship series has been overvaluing in free agency those coming off significant contributions. In that respect, Mario Chalmers may have missed his opportunity to cash in due to the lockout. Chalmers not only was the only Heat player beyond Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James to average double-figure scoring in the NBA Finals, but shot 14-of-35 on 3-pointers over the six games against the Mavericks and regained his starting job by series’ end. But now, the long view may instead be of a player who shot 43.5 percent over the playoffs, with 44 assists to 48 fouls and 28 turnovers. Chalmers spent the past week working out at the University of Miami with a group that included Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Joe Johnson, Jarrett Jack, Morris Peterson, James Posey, Jannero Pargo and Joey Dorsey.

GREATER EXPOSURE: Chalmers also is scheduled to return to his alma mater Sept. 24 for an exhibition game at Allen Fieldhouse featuring Kansas University alumni, including Paul Pierce, Nick Collison, Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, Cole Aldrich and Brandon Rush, among others.

OH, THAT TATTOO: If you haven’t seen it, the recently expanded tattoo on Chris Bosh’s back has drawn worldwide review. Yes, even during the Heat forward’s recently completed tour of China. Asked about the somewhat bizarre artwork, Bosh replied to a questioner in China, "I mean it’s, umm...I like art. You know, so it was pretty much just a collage of everything that I like and a lot of it, all of it has meaning. A lot of history. My history, it’s my history. Everything has, you’s not done yet. It’s a work in progress, so people are, ’Oh, what’s that? It’s ugly.’" A follow-up questioner asked if the collage might eventually include artwork of a championship trophy. "Yeah, I mean, it worked for Jason Terry," Bosh said of the Mavericks guard. "I might as well do it, too."


11. Number worn by Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, which apparently will be retired by the Cavaliers, who declined to make it available to No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving per his post-draft request. Irving instead will wear No. 2. Irving wore No. 11 in high school and No. 1 at Duke (with Daniel Gibson currently wearing No. 1 for the Cavaliers).


(c)2011 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

© Copyright (c) McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


Post a Comment

Florists Links
Design by Wordpress Theme | Bloggerized by Free Blogger Templates | coupon codes
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by the respective owners. Comments are owned by Poster