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"I just want to wish you good luck, man," Heat captain Udonis Haslem, who wears No. 40 to honor two of his idols who had that number - his father and James - said on the DVD. "God bless you and keep doing what you're doing."

"Stay focused," said Heat center Jamaal Magloire, a former James teammate. "Never let your guard down and get back to us safe."

"You're not like any other basketball player out there," Heat assistant coach Keith Askins said.

Since 2006, Miami has given a center-court tribute to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at every home game, a program Heat president Pat Riley developed and called the HomeStrong initiative.

He said he cannot wait for James to get his due.

"The work we do, while being important to us, is made possible by the efforts of our soldiers in the Middle East," said Riley, who coached James in his lone season with the team.

James can't discuss specifics of his mission, although Byron said the unit should not face "the direct threat" of enemy action.

The stakes are higher than any basketball game, for certain, but James says he can still draw the parallel between fighting on the court and fighting for his country.

"I've been in the heat of the moment on the court in the fourth quarter, tie game, and yes, you would think that's a battle," James said. "There's nothing I hate more than losing. To be here, risking your life, it's definitely another level. It's like a scouting report for a game. All you can do is try to execute your mission. A loss here, that could be a lost life."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: August 30, 2009

News » Ex-NBA 1st-round pick James now serving in Iraq

Ex-NBA 1st-round pick James now serving in Iraq

Ex-NBA 1st-round pick James now serving in Iraq
MIAMI (AP) - Tim James apologized for being late. A rough day at work, said the Miami Heat's 1999 first-round draft pick. Vehicles broke down, problems flared up, and he simply fell behind.

"It happens," James said. "Even here."


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