Heat elite staying on same page of script ... so far

Updated: October 25, 2005, 3:38 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com
MIAMI -- It all looks good on paper.

Entering the 2005 season, the talent on Miami's roster dwarfs that of the other contenders in the East. Shaquille O'Neal. Dwyane Wade. Antoine Walker. James Posey. Jason Williams. Gary Payton. Udonis Haslem. Alonzo Mourning. Call them the Elite Eight, if you will.

Gary Payton
Gary Payton's looking mighty cool in a Heat jersey.

But with all those big names come big expectations. Newcomers such as Walker, Payton and even Williams and Posey are used to getting their touches. How will they adjust to being bit players in a cast dominated by O'Neal and Wade?

On day one, at least, everyone showed up preaching the company line.

"Coming in, I understood that I'd be getting fewer touches and fewer minutes," said forward Walker, whose reputation as an unrepentant gunner makes him perhaps the most worrisome of Miami's acquisitions.

Haslem, Walker's competition for the power forward spot, shared 'Toine's esprit de corps.

"I welcome the competition," Haslem said. "In my two seasons in Miami, I started one year and I came off the bench one year. I've been successful in both, so if [coming off the bench] is the role, then I'm cool with it."

However, that commendable team spirit could vanish faster than you can say "Fantasia Barrino" if the team doesn't meet the expectations of winning big.

And there's at least one legitimate concern in that department. The Heat were the league's second-best team in terms of points per possession a year ago, but might be hard-pressed to match that feat because the new guys shoot much worse than the men they replaced.


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