by Marcel Mutoni

Admittedly, I became a little nervous last night when Miami’s turn to pick a draftee came up. With everything that’s been going on with the Heat of late – the Wade trade rumors, the “secret” workouts with other top college players, etc. – you had to wonder if Pat Riley was crazy enough not to select Michael Beasley.

Thankfully for the Heat and its fans, Old Man Riles came to his senses and picked the insanely-gifted Beasley, and all of a sudden, Miami once again began to look like a force to be reckoned with.

Ignore for a moment that their starting point guard is Jason Williams (well, him or the immortal Chris Quinn), and focus on the options Miami now has: Beasley, Wade, Marion, Haslem, and Ricky Buckets. And you know what that means? Decidedly fewer empty seats at the American Airlines gym next year, and a shot at making the postseason after one of the worst seasons in frachise history.

An enormous, rollicking, standing ovation rose in the Heat’s downtown arena from some 4,000 fans at the team’s draft party when commissioner David Stern called Beasley’s name in New York as the league’s No. 2 overall selection. Heat flags waved. Streamers shot from cannons and flew to the rafters, floating down over the delirium.

That was the look and sound of relief, of escape. That was the embarrassment of a 15-67 season lifting, disappearing, replaced by the feel of fresh, real hope.

Of course, the nagging questions regarding Wade’s health won’t go away (though, his play in Beijing could put an end to all of that), and the franchise must still figure out what to do about Marion and Haslem. No matter. They have Beasley, and that means they have hope.

Now quick, someone take away his GPS so he won’t be able to locate South Beach.