Hurricanes, Heat share unique colleges-pro bond in Miami

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Behind University of Miami assistant coach Chris Caputo's desk in his office, a photo of the Miami Heat's big three is tacked up against the wall. In the lobby of the Miami men's basketball office, a copy of ESPN the Magazine's music issue, featuring LeBron James on the cover.

Those are just some of the more subtle reminders of the superstars who live next door.

There are the other photos, the ones of James, Dwyane Wade and Miami alum James Jones sitting courtside when Miami played North Carolina in early February. There are the stories of James and Wade copy-catting dunk moves from the Hurricanes, and of Chris Bosh's call-to-arms speech two summers ago.

Coming off a loss in the NBA Finals and heading into the uncertainty of a lockout, Bosh was in an unusual mental state when he joined Hurricanes players for pickup games.

"I didn't know if I was going to play basketball again," Bosh said Tuesday night. "I just kept thinking, 'What if I had done this? What if I had done that?' I just told them to work harder so they wouldn't have any regrets."

Bosh lectured the players, telling them winning — and the chance to play in the NBA — doesn't come easily. They had to be more competitive, work harder off the court.

Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga has called it the best five-minute speech he's ever heard and has not been shy about praising Bosh for igniting the fire in his players. "The message was clear: You've got to work very hard," Larranaga said.

"He gives me way more credit than I deserve," Bosh said, laughing. "He's the coach. He motivates those guys daily. Those guys do their job daily. They deserve the credit."

The ties between the pro and college programs go deeper than one brief speech that kickstarted a program revival. Heat players work out at the Hurricanes' facilities in the summer. Larranaga has worked Wade's fantasy camp. Both coaching staffs get along well, invite one another to their games and see the benefit of a mutual partnership.

Larranaga hopes the glamorous ties will help recruiting; Heat coach Eric Spoelstra hopes it helps encourage more and more kids in Miami to get into the sport of basketball.

"I'd love to see this town become a basketball town," Spoelstra said this week. "I've probably gotten to know Coach Larranaga better than any of the previous coaches. I've been over there at their facilities, talking shop with them. They've been over here. I've gotten to know his entire staff. I think it's great."

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