The Heat Is On (For Another Rocky Season?)

Miami sports fans can be forgiven if they've already pulled out the brown paper bags, covered their heads and collapsed trembling into the fetal position for the rest of the month.

The Marlins tanked in August. The Canes rolled over and died in Gainesville. And the Dolphins? May the good lord have mercy on your soul if you're a diehard Fish fan.

So it's hardly a surprise that many ESPN-types around town have already circled October 29 on the calendar, when the Heat open their season in NYC.

The Heat sucked harder than anyone last year, but there are high hopes for a revival this time around. D-Wade looked like the best guy on the court in the Olympics, and super-stud Michael Beasley topped a strong draft class.

But shell-shocked Miami fans clinging to life on the slim hope of watching a competent professional sports franchise in the Magic City might want to avoid the off-season NBA headlines.

First Mario Chalmers, the rookie point guard expected to shoulder a big load this year got caught with two lady-friends and a cloud of marijuana smoke at the rookie symposium and fined $20,000.

Now Beasley, his superstar Big 12 rival, the Heat's top pick in the draft, is firing his agents and making noise about his botched endorsement deals. According to the Herald, there's a bit of tension in the air because Beasley hasn't quite matched the $40 million in endorsements picked up last year by his buddy Kevin Durant -- last year's No. 2 overall draft pick. His agent tells the Herald that the dispute "won't be a distraction" coming into the season.

Somehow, it's hard to believe that Miami sports fans are breathing easy. Especially if they're tuning into the next Dolphins fiasco.

-- Tim Elfrink

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