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Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

Heat's big three take on Celtics in season opener

MIAMI (AP) Before leaving for the airport Monday and catching the flight to Boston, Dwyane Wade had a conversation with the friend he calls Larry.

News photo
Big Shamrock: Boston's Shaquille O'Neal takes a break at practice on Monday in Waltham, Mass. The Celtics open the NBA season against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night. AP PHOTO

As in, the Larry O'Brien Trophy. The one they give out for winning an NBA championship.

"I asked him where he's been," Wade said. "He's eluded me. He's been missing for a while."

Larry will be waiting for someone in June, and on Tuesday night the Miami Heat will take what they hope is their first steps toward winning him when a season of title expectations finally opens in Boston. Miami squares off against the reigning Eastern Conference champion Celtics in a matchup loaded with story lines.

LeBron James' opener with Miami after seven seasons in Cleveland. Wade's first time with James and Chris Bosh as his Heat running mates.

Shaquille O'Neal — once a teammate to both Wade and James — playing his first game in Celtics' colors. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett motivated by a Game 7 loss to the Lakers in last season's finals.

Miami's new Big 3 vs. Boston's not-so-new Big 3.

Oh, and the small fact that Wade and James were both ousted from the playoffs by Boston last spring, defeats that helped along their decision to play with one another.

"I think the NBA did an unbelievable job of picking a great first game," Wade said.

O'Neal says he believes it's just another game, noting that the only big games in which he's played in are the ones where "jewelry" — a ring — is up for grabs.

Not everyone is of that opinion.

"Once LeBron took his talents to South Beach, I think everyone got excited," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

The Heat practiced one last time in Miami on Monday morning, followed by coach Erik Spoelstra gathering his team in the locker room for a quick meeting.

He didn't have to say much. Spoelstra brought Miami's 2006 championship trophy and reminded everyone of the season's lone goal.

"We're all ready for this because of how long the summer has seemed," Spoelstra said. "Seemed like it's taken forever to get to this point. But it's finally here. . ."

James feels the same way.

By the time tipoff rolls around Tuesday night, 110 days will have passed since he made "The Decision" to leave Cleveland and join Wade and Bosh in Miami, and the NBA's two-time reigning MVP acknowledged Monday that South Florida still doesn't totally feel like home.

The team does, though. And after a summer of being a lightning rod for critics, James might be more eager than ever to play.

"I'll be ready tomorrow," James said when asked about his motivation level. "I'll be ready. I'll be ready."

Webster has surgery

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Timberwolves' newfound depth at swingman is already being tested.

Martell Webster had back surgery on Monday and will miss the first four to six weeks of the season.

The Timberwolves acquired Webster from Portland on draft night in a trade for 16th overall pick Luke Babbitt.

Webster averaged 12.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in the preseason and has pleased coach Kurt Rambis with his energy off the bench and his performance on both offense and defense.

Webster said he was first injured during a hard fall in the playoffs last year with the Blazers.

As the preseason wore on this year, it flared up and Webster did not play in the final two exhibition games.

Dr. James Schwender performed a microdiscectomy in suburban Minneapolis to relieve a herniated disc in Webster's back.

Iverson pursued

ANKARA (AP) A top official of Turkish basketball team Besiktas says Allen Iverson is keen to play for the Istanbul squad.

Besiktas executive board member Seref Yalcin told the Anatolia news agency Monday that he will travel to the United States to discuss terms of a possible deal with the 11-time NBA All-Star and former scoring champion.

Yalcin said he would discuss "a variety of details" with Iverson later this week. He said issues included schools in Istanbul for Iverson's children.

Yalcin said "I think this transfer will take place."

Iverson is 17th on the NBA's career scoring list with 24,368 points over a 14-year career.

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