Why eat cake when you can eat your favorite player?

Food is a lot of fun and when combined with our favorite sporting heroes, it’s something we as sports fans are even pretty good at.

The tennis at Indian Wells started this week and with it being the first big tournament on US soil this year, plenty of fans got excited, one even made a cake starring Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.

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This, as it turns out is quite a thing and isn’t just subjected to the tennis elite, check out these other sweet, um, treats.

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This Kyrie Irving cake looks authentic. Unless it’s LeBron James. Well, it has Paul Pierce’s beard…

Mr. Met cake is a home run. Well, it’s the Mets so it’s probably just warning track power

This Tom Brady cake looks like the real deal until you see the Uggs

This Messi cake is even anatomically correct.

This Messi cake is even anatomically correct.

J.J WTF

J.J WTF

Even Kobe’s cake is forced to watch the playoffs from afar these days

Mario Kart is totally a sport

Mario Kart is totally a sport

"And you can tell everybody, I'm the flan I'm the flan...."

“And you can tell everybody, I’m the flan I’m the flan….”

Now I'm getting uncomfortable.

Now I’m getting uncomfortable

What does an NBA player want for Valentines?

It’s All-Star weekend here in New York so I went down to media day to ask what you get an NBA player for Valentine’s Day. From James Harden to Chris Bosh, players from the East and West gave us a glimpse into their romantic lives. It’s kind of  nice to know NBA players still have to worry about Valentine’s Day just like the rest go us.

Miami can’t keep up with Curry

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Going into another game sans Dwyane Wade looked ominous even after the weekend’s back to back wins for Miami. The Golden State Warriors are a top tier Western Conference team afterall. The scary thing about the Golden State Warriors is the way they can jump all over you in a game.

We know about their offensive firepower with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Their big man is even a great playmaker with the pass, so when you get Andrew Bogutinvolved in setting up their shooters, they can really overwhelm you. That’s what happened to the Heat in the early parts of the first quarter. Their offense was showing off and everything was a highlight.

Don’t forget that this Warriors team is also the best defense in the NBA. They came into the game ranked No. 1 in the league in defense. That’s what makes the Heat’s response to the Warriors quick display of offense so impressive. They didn’t get overwhelmed at all. They just kept playing and doing the usual program of trying to find their identity, their game, and everything else that Spo seems to spout to media in soundbites.

Mario Chalmers did his best Curry impersonation by scoring 14 points in the first half, and helped get Chris Bosh going. Bosh led the Heat with 17 points in the first half, andLuol Deng had a strong performance with 12. The Heat botched a 16 point lead and couldn’t keep the Warriors from coming back to nearly even it up at halftime, but at least they limited the early teamwork and playmaking. They turned the Warriors into less of a team game with assists and made them do work individually.

Miami emerged from the half with a 62-61 lead, however, Thompson and Curry worked together to edge ahead while testing Miami’s scrambling defense. Shawne Williamsagain showed his prowess in the perimeter shooting 11 points. It was the energy fromShabazz Napier and James Ennis that kept Miami competitive, the rookies showed they have plenty to offer despite it still being so early in their career. Bosh reigned supreme for Miami, 26 points and 9 rebounds and Deng looked more comfortable posting 16 points.

A win for Miami looked in reach until Thompson and Curry sank some daggers in the final five minutes. Curry finished with a whopping 40 points, Thompson with 24. Overall there were promising signs for Miami. ‪

The good news is the Heat were able to find success against such a good defense by spreading them out. This is a tough match-up, but their system worked for much of the game. They just need consistent guard play out of Cole and Mario to keep good starts like they had against the Warriors consistent through an entire game.

The Heat next play the Knicks on Sunday night, 7:30 PM EST in New York.

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A-Z of the new Miami Heat

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A is for Andre

This week Andre Dawkins shot his way onto Miami’s roster. The former Duke guard known predominantly as a shooter will be aiming to fill the void James Jones and Ray Allen left if he can earn minutes in the rotation.

B is for Bosh

No longer the sidekick, Chris Bosh has now reached the era of leadership. While he spent the past four years finding himself moving farther away from the basket, he will now be the go-to scorer while carrying the majority of on-court responsibility. Expect him to relish this coming season.

C is for Chris “Birdman” Andersen

D is for Deng

I could’ve had “D is for Dwyane Wade” but the alphabet is long and I’ve still got a way to go. The day Miami acquired Deng was one of triumph. Set to rejuvenate his career, at times in the preseason Deng looked dangerous and could end up providing some lethal two-man play with Wade and/or McRoberts in the half court.

E is for Ennis

A preview if you will:

F is for Forgotten

For the first time in years, Miami has been cast aside, disparaged and given no further consideration. This, in turn, makes any form of dominance in the competition surprisingly satisfying. After all, they are meant to be under the bottom of the heap and anything above that is simply a win.

G is for Granger

Back on media day, Danny Granger talked about how Jamal Crawford was selling him on the idea of being a Sixth Man. Apparently, Crawford was telling him how great it is to be a primary scoring option with the second unit. You get to take as many shots as you want and you don’t really have as much pressure as you’re used to having. While Granger certainly wont have the same freedom that Crawford has with the Clippers, watching him grow into this new role should be exciting.

H is for Haslem

Oh you already know…

I is for Team

As we all know, there is no “i” in the word “team.” There certainly won’t be with thisHeat roster either. That’s not to say there was in the previous four seasons, but they always had that one certain someone there to bail them out. Now it has to be a team effort every night, even more so than the championship days. That’s how you build continuity.

J is for Josh

McRoberts didn’t play in the preseason with his new team and he’s inactive to begin the season. However, McBob suited up for 78 games last season with Charlotte so we should expect a fairly full season out of him. A dangerous shooter from deep, in time McRoberts will demonstrate what Riley and Spo saw in him.

K is for Keeping the faith

I know it’s been rough. The team/organization/fan base has had some tough months, but together helped each other get through it. Miami got Deng, kept Bosh and now we all get to say Heat Lifer all of the time as a unifying chant. That creates a fun community and basketball experience for everybody throughout the entire season.

L is for Layup

Let’s layup!

M is for Mario

Mario, Mario, wherefore art thou Mario? There has been no better time suited for Rio. While we don’t know if this reprised role will lead to him thriving as a leader/contributor, if he comes out firing early, he could just be the answer we’ve been waiting for at the point guard position.

N is for Norris

A beloved player with pace and skills to sink from deep, Norris Cole can be a pleasure to watch:

O is for Opportunities

The bench is wide open; almost everybody on the roster will get to earn a chance at regular minutes. This results in true competition, which should quickly weed out the players who don’t belong on the court.

P is for Playoffs

This time it’s with a twist. No longer the predictable journey to the ECF, this time every regular season game will count for Miami, which makes for excited viewing.

Q is for Questions

Who will have earned to be starting point guard come April? Will Granger make an impact or will he be obsolete? What starting lineup will we have Christmas Day? It’s anyone’s for the taking.

R is for Rejuvenating

The initial carnage LeBron James left behind sparked a rebuilding process and over timeErik Spoelstra and Pat Riley managed to turn around a dismantled roster and mold it into a competitive one. With new challenges and new faces, this team can now avoid looking stale.

S is for Shabazz

Already becoming a fan favorite, Shabazz Napier has shown glimpses of his potential. With only a handful of preseason games under his belt, Napier showcased his offensive drive and intelligence for the game. A great player to have on the roster.

T is for Teaching

There are new additions and revised roles to the coaching staff. Assistants like Juwan Howard, Keith Smart and Chris Quinn and others will all be learning their new roles much like Spoelstra and David Fizdale once had to do. Fizdale should be a prime coaching candidate for teams in the near future, so soaking up his knowledge and understanding is paramount for the new coaches.

U is for Unpredictable

In a time where a teams winning potential can change in an instance, be it due to a trade or an injury, for the Heat we simply have no idea how this team will pan out. With most experts picking them to finish in the top four, anything below the eight would be a disappointing. On a positive, if things don’t go as predicted for the Cavs and Bulls, then it’s possible the Heat could just find themselves in the ECF for a fifth consecutive year.

V is for Vivica

Vivica cut through sharks with a sword just like Wade and Deng will cut through the defense for easy buckets.

W is for Wade

This is HIS house:

X is for X-Factor

With James Ennis and Shabazz Napier having thrilling moments in the preseason, both are set to shine if and when they’re given the opportunity. Ennis is a gem and has grown from his time overseas and joining back up with the Heat this summer. This season is bound to bring out the best in the small forward. Young players like this can be the difference between injecting life into the second unit and fizzling out when the stars are off the court. Speaking of young players…

Y is for Youth

Last year it wasn’t the Spurs who were the oldest; it was Miami. Now with the additions of some bright young stars (their 2013-14 average age was 30.6), the potential is building.

Z is for Zzzzzz

I’m tired and soon you will be too. If living in Miami hasn’t already starved you of sleep, games tipping off as late as 10:30 ET and being in the Eastern time zone will. Either way, you should expect to drink a lot more (Cuban) coffee.

Talking Hoops with Zach Harper

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CBS Sports NBA writer Zach Harper (@talkhoops) stops by to discuss the Miami Heat’s preseason start, we discuss potential point guards and he tells us why head coach Erik Spoelstra is the real team leader and much more.

You can listen here or subscribe to the Hot Hot Hoops podcast on iTunes.

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Mario Chalmers is primed for a new stage

marioIf any Miami Heat player is familiar with controversy, it’s Mario Chalmers.

Only three months ago, Miami fans were calling for their point guard to be cut from the team. He looked lost, tired and often defeated against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. Even with LeBron James at his side, Chalmers struggled to physically and mentally get past the exhaustion that had accumulated after four years of NBA Finals runs. And while the role players for Miami weren’t necessarily terrible, at times they looked incapable of giving the much needed support to help the stars on the team reach their winning potential. Despite the Finals being touted as an overall team loss, fans searching for accountability looked no further than ‘Rio.

When Chalmers debuted as a rookie, he showed promise as a playmaker and a shooter. Times, of course, were different for Chalmers back then; instinct drove his game and he didn’t need to worry about adjusting to Chris Bosh and James’ arrival. Basketball for Chalmers was how he liked it – simple action.

When forming an opinion, fans and pundits tend to rely on the principle of recency. Chalmers unfortunately is a role player we like to be overly critical of, almost offering him up as a scapegoat when things go wrong. This often became apparent when his teammates yelled at him, excused by the notion they knew he could take it and flourish with such criticism. Fans tend to forget the clutch shots he’s made in big moments because the lasting memory is defeat, followed by the loss of LeBron.

If his social media is anything to go by, it looks like we may see a different ‘Rio this coming season. Chalmers, now 28 years old, can be seen working on making his shooting more reliable, but it’s his proclamation of “becoming a jack of all trades” which tells us he’s looking at the bigger picture. Already throwing himself into preseason condition, his positive affirmations represent a newfound headspace. The fatigue he felt probably still hangs around, but this offseason isn’t the same; it’s no longer Groundhog Day. It’s already feeling different as this could be Chalmers’ season of redemption. No longer is the focus on simply spacing the floor for superstars. Instead, it’s shifted to becoming a more complete point guard with expanded responsibilities.

We don’t know if this reprised role will lead to Chalmers thriving as a leader. If he comes out early with the nourished mindset from Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, Rio could just be the answer that has been under our noses this whole time. Chalmers (28) and Bosh (30) are in the midst of their respective prime years. With Dwyane Wade’s re-conditioned help, Chalmers can be a big part of the team’s playmaking post-LeBron. Chalmers should be more involved with the ball now. If he can be effective in this expanded role, he can join Wade in running pick-and-pops with Bosh and Josh McRoberts to help stretch the floor.

Finding a balance between being an initiator and still deferring to the stars in front of him will be the key to how well he re-adjusts to playing a more traditional version ofpoint guard for the Heat. With Norris Cole still developing his game and possibly pushing Chalmers for more minutes, the motivation to prove his worth is still there for Chalmers. Having a capable replacement breathing down his neck should drive him.

HHHPod – Miami Offseason review

I chat with Earnest Christian and David Ramil to discuss the Miami Heat’s 2014 offseason. They discuss the loss of LeBron James, the new additions of Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng, where the Heat stand in the Eastern Conference this coming season, and much more. You can read all of their Heat coverage at HotHotHoops.com.

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