Eight of Miami's 20 players in camp nursing injuries
"Terrible," was his answer to a "How is it?" query as he departed, though O'Neal sent word later that he wasn't being serious.
Still, there's already cause for some serious concern around Heat camp -- as eight of Miami's 20 players were unable to practice Monday because of injuries. Bruised hips, sore shins, aching thighs, sprained ankles -- all that and more are being treated by the Heat medical staff these days.
An 0-4 start to the preseason isn't helping matters, either.
"It's frustrating for me because I'd like to have all hands on deck and be pushing toward that goal of putting the team together," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "But you have to deal with what you have."
Or in this case, what you don't have.
The hurting Heat were all seated along the practice court Monday morning as teammates ran drills. Guard Dwyane Wade -- who's out for at least a few regular-season games as he recovers from knee and shoulder surgeries -- tried to entertain himself by seeing if he could get a ball stuck on a basket support.
Miami knew it'd be without Wade for a while. All the other injuries are relatively new.
O'Neal injured his leg Saturday in a preseason game against Charlotte and is day-to-day, Riley said. Brian Chase (foot), Jason Williams (shin), Marcus Slaughter (ankle), Penny Hardaway (quadriceps), Wayne Simien (knee) and Michael Doleac (hip) also missed Monday's workout, although most may be back in a couple of days.
But for now, they're merely spectators. Hardaway watched the end of practice from a stationary bike, his head tilted to the right. Williams got into a conversation with Wade. Slaughter yawned.
"I could probably go, but I don't want to [mess] something else up," said Williams, who spent the summer rehabbing a chronically sore knee that he said doesn't hurt anymore.
"I guess it's frustrating, but at the same time, we've got to take care of our bodies first," Williams added. "If we're hurt, we can't go, so there's no need to go out there and jeopardize our season."
For Hardaway, the waiting is particularly tough -- since he probably has to play his way onto the Heat roster.
The 36-year-old has barely played over the past four NBA seasons because of knee problems. He says the knee is fine, but the sore quadriceps has kept him from doing much of anything since camp began.
"Injuries are a part of the game," said Hardaway, who plans to practice this week. "Thank God it's not the regular season and then guys are out. Right now is the time, if there ever is a time, for guys to get well, get healed up and get ready."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press