Greetings from Miami where the boys have a day off after a tough loss to the Hawks last night in Atlanta. Amare played some 3 on 3 at a light workout today. He moved well and says each day he is feeling better.

But Stat will wait and see how that right knee responds tomorrow morning before deciding whether or not to suit-up against Shaq and the winless Heat. But keep your expectations in check because Amare will have to work his way back into “game shape” before we see the eye-popping numbers on a consistent basis.

When he reaches that level, he has now provided a new term to use when he begins to heat-up on the floor. Last night on the plane flight here to Miami, he was referring to the “Stoude-fire” we will witness when he regains form. You just have to love his confidence and bravado!

Miami, by the way, has now lost 17 straight games if you include the end of last regular season, the playoffs when they were swept by the Bulls, the preseason, and now into the ’2007-’08 campaign. They obviously were built around Dwayne Wade and Shaq, but Wade is still recovering from his shoulder and knee surgeries and is not expected to return for a while. Right now it’s the knee that is holding him back.

I am really looking forward to seeing Penny Hardaway in a Heat uniform tomorrow night. Though his time in Phoenix was filled with disappointment and injuries, he was always a wonderful guy to be around. Always accomodating to the media and just one of the friendliest superstars you will meet. In fact, I still remind Penny to this day of his greatest assist. It was the eve of the deal that sent himself and Stephon to New York. The Suns team had been stuck on the runway in Toronto for 5 hours because of a nasty storm in Chicago–our next destination. Finally we took off but would have to be re-routed to Milwaukee. The turbulence was fierce and the players were hanging onto their armrests for dear life. Knowing we were close to finally touching down, an anxious Stephon Marbury asked Penny to open his window shade to find out if he could see the ground. Penny leaned over right in front of me and opened his shade. We could both see nothing but ominous, milky clouds outside and we were very near the ground at this point! But Penny eased all tension when he lied through his teeth: “No problem, guys. I see the buildings and the downtown area. It’s clear.” Moments later with the players now breathing easier, the roller-coaster ride ended with the plane slamming down on the runway.

Penny now is trying to rewrite the final chapter to his career. He has been working out over the past year and a half, playing in semi-pro leagues and hoping to walk off into the sunset as a productive player on a team that won it all two years ago. He and Shaq both want to prove that they still have some magic left after beginning their careers with the Magic and making it to the Finals in ’95. We will get our first glimpse of their “curtain call” tomorrow. See you then on MY 45.

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