CHICAGO | You can't hate the Miami Heat. Sorry. I tried for most of this season. I really did.
I had pictured them as spoiled little rich kids, whining and spitting out their silver spoons whenever the limo driver hit a pot hole.
Can't do it any more. It's wrong.
This is not a bunch of pampered, egotistical, South Beach wannabes whose owner is trying to buy a title. Turns out, the Miami Heat roster is loaded with good guys like Mike Miller; talented players who care deeply for each other and the less fortunate.
Most have their own foundations set up. Many teams do, but Heat players were doing this long before it became fashionable.
Chris Bosh works with corporations that help middle schools in 13 cities across the country.
Mario Chalmers established "Mario's Closet" -- a specialty shop offering free and low-cost accessories for cancer patients.
Udonis Haslem provides school uniforms and school supplies to school-age children that are homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and in foster care.
Jamaal Magloire does extensive charity work for children's hospitals in Toronto. In the summer of 2010, he paid the funeral costs of murder victim Lucria Charles, a 28-year-old single mom he did not know, and set up a fund for her 7-year-old special needs son Mataeo.
Miller and wife Jennifer recently donated $1 million to an endowment fund for Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., his birthplace.
Chicago natives Dwyane Wade and Juwan Howard are known for their work with inner city children.
The Bulls said all season they're ready to "walk through the fire" together in times of adversity.
Well, the Heat didn't all meet on a blind date.
Ex-Florida teammates Haslem and Miller are particularly close. When one of Haslem's children was born with a serious breathing disorder that required additional hospital care, Miller was there for him 24-7.
And now Heat players have rallied behind Miller, whose week-old daughter Jaelyn is hospitalized in intensive care and may require surgery.
"She's doing all right," Miller said softly before Thursday's Game 5. "She's basically doing the same. We'll find out more this weekend.
"Our prayers won't stop, can't stop."
Miller's 11th year has been the most frustrating of his well-traveled NBA career. A concussion and two fractured thumbs limited the 3-point threat to two starts in 41 regular-season games.
He still wears braces on each hand.
The reserve's timely heroics in Game 4 -- nine of his 12 points coming in the fourth quarter -- sparked an overtime win many believe put the Eastern Conference Finals out of reach for the Bulls.
"Anyone who's made it this far in the playoffs has got to be a close-knit group because you go through so much adversity during the season and we've been dealing with it since the beginning," Miller said.
"You realize the only people you have are in this locker room and that helps."
As Miller dressed for the game, he laced up the pink shoelaces he purchased to celebrate the birth of his little girl.
"She's a fighter, like her dad," he said.
Teammates walked by and several gave him a good-natured pat on the back.
Read More : http://www.nwitimes.com/sports/columnists/al-hamnik/article_326d9b36-fd5f-5580-9043-8005ae4eb740.html
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