SALT LAKE CITY — The beautiful people from the sun arrived at EnergySolutions Arena on Wednesday, looking all that and more. Designer jeans and perfectly draped slacks, hand-made Italian shoes or slick new sneakers, silk ties and a tasteful but not garish array of bling.
The Miami Heat, the prettiest team east of L.A., showed up for its only Salt Lake stop this season, looking none the worse for wear in a 111-98 win over the Jazz. Whoever said the Heat are overrated never saw them get off a bus. LeBron James disembarked in a muted tweed sport coat, designer jeans, necktie and new sneakers, looking like he planned on dining in casual elegance with the royals. In his locker before the game hung not one, but two sport coats.
Chris Bosh was in a soft black leather jacket, coordinating sweater and dress slacks.
And, of course, there was Mr. Threads himself, Dwyane Wade — twice listed by Esquire among the 14 best-dressed men on Earth. Wednesday he was in designer jeans, soft green corduroy jacket with patches, tie and matching V-neck sweater.
Nobody was in a full-on custom suit, but it was nothing a few earrings, a couple of Rolexes and some gold chains couldn't fix.
So there it was, the double-whammy of celebrity: looks AND talent.
Couldn't they just settle for one of the two?
While looking good when you're on the road 41 games a year can be difficult (Oh, those luggage wrinkles!), it's harder than it seems to look good on the court. Six games ago, the Heat were 9-8, the biggest dud of the young season. Remember all that razzmatazz, last summer? The hype was almost unendurable.
Early this season, the criticism all looked justified.
Wade, the Heat's star, conspired with Bosh and James to join the team so they could all win a championship. For most of America, the arms buildup smelled like reality TV. The culmination was when James theatrically announced on ESPN that he was taking his talents to Miami.
The switch wasn't a terrible shock for Cleveland. The city has known for years it couldn't keep him. If you have the chance to wander the shores of Lake Erie, or the sands of South Beach, what are you going to do?
It's not like James and Bosh are terrible people for leaving Cleveland and Toronto. First, the Heat look like a legitimate title threat, having won their last six games. Second, Miami is simply a magnet for the pretty and proud. Gloria Estefan, Madonna, the Bee Gees, Sylvester Stallone, Lenny Kravitz, Ricky Martin, Oprah, Jennifer Lopez, Nicholas Cage, Whitney Houston, Shakira, Cher and Julia Roberts have all, at some point, owned places in Miami.
It's L.A., minus Gloria Allred.
Once together, the Heat players all seemed to be working on their cool. Even guard Carlos Arroyo — among the lesser celebrities — made a music video with recording artist Yomo that hit the Billboard Top 25 Latin charts. Their coach, Erik Spoelstra, is the league's youngest (37) and possibly handsomest coach.
At the same time, until their recent win streak, the Heat were as disappointing as a childhood crush. Before Wednesday, they hadn't defeated a team on the road that had a winning record. But now the Heat are doing nothing to damage their reputation as the most glamorous team this side of the Lakers. Which means they attract attention like the Lakers, too.
Asked prior to Wednesday's game if it had a "big game" feel, James said, "Uh ... I mean, every game's big for us. We already know how people look at it. Anytime you go against an opponent, they're gonna be a little bit more up than they usually are."
In other words, make way, the celebrities are in town.
Thus, the Heat built a 12-point lead, lost it, and built it back, mostly on the wings of James' 33 points and Wade's 28. The exclamation point was a lob from Wade to James for a towering LeBron-a-riffic dunk.2 comments on this story
"I've been blessed with a little bit of athletic ability, where I can sometimes think what I want to do, but I just kind of react," said James.
And despite their slow start on the season, as the players walked coolly to their bus after the game, it was hard to imagine them underachieving in the long run.
Right now, they're looking breezy and warm and happy and stylish and sunshiny, as only Miami and L.A. can.