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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Western Civilization in decline: ESPN launches 'The Heat Index'

Hello, friends. I'm back to work and ready to start my second half century.

Where to begin? Hmm . . . Let's go with the news this fine Monday morning that ESPN finally has decided to start covering LeBron James in depth after pretty much ignoring his free agency decision and more recently his first week of camp with the Heat.

It's about time, people! Here is the complete news release about the Bristol Stompers' plans for covering the Heat this season on their website:

ESPN.com will launch The Heat Index, a special section devoted specifically to daily, season-long coverage of the Miami Heat and their new superstar core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, on Monday, October 11.

The Heat Index will be housed under the ESPN.com NBA section and will include in-depth editorial coverage (columns and blogs), video, audio, automated modules, social media elements, photo galleries and other multimedia offerings.

Editorial contributors to The Heat Index:

· Brian Windhorst – formerly with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Windhorst is one of the leading authorities on LeBron James. Windhorst has written two books about James and has covered him since middle school. Windhorst has been the Cavs beat writer/blogger for seven years and has won awards from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the Associated Press. Windhorst will be based in Miami as one of two regular beat writers assigned to the team.

· Michael Wallace – Wallace has been the Miami Herald’s Heat beat writer for the previous three seasons and is an experienced sports and news reporter. Wallace, an award-winning writer, will team with Windhorst as regular Heat beat writers covering the team daily throughout the season.

· Kevin Arnovitz – in addition to his role as managing editor and contributor to ESPN.com’s TrueHoop Network, Arnovitz will provide digital media content and edit portions of The Heat Index.

· Sebastian Martinez-Christensen – Martinez-Christensen will be a regular contributor to The Heat Index. He formerly served as a multi-lingual columnist and contributor for ESPNDeportes.com, a reporter for ESPN Deportes (radio and television) and ESPN Deportes La Revista magazine.

Among the features of the Heat Index:

· breaking news surrounding the Miami Heat;

· coverage of every Heat game and team practice;

· constantly updated aggregation of all ESPN stories regarding the Heat;

· Chase for 72 – an automated, daily forecast of how many games the Heat will win including ESPN.com’s John Hollinger projecting the odds of the Heat matching the Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins;

· Tracking the Big 3 – an automated tracking of how James, Wade and Bosh stack up against the best trios in NBA history;

· Heat Tweets – a module that collects tweets from Heat players and fans;

· complete video, podcast and story contributions from ESPN reporters Marc Stein, Chris Broussard, Chad Ford, Chris Sheridan, John Hollinger and Ric Bucher;

· Heat content from ESPN TV analysts;

· Hollinger Stats – automated applications featuring Hollinger’s analytics on the Heat team and players;

· Hollinger’s All-Time Power Rankings – a ranking pinning the Heat against the NBA’s all-time great teams;

· Triple-Double Tracker – a module tracking James’ progress towards averaging a triple-double for an entire season;

· Hoop Schemes – basketball analysis and video breakdowns by TrueHoop’s Arnovitz;

· video analysis by Scout Inc.’s David Thorpe;

· live chats during each Heat game involving Heat Index contributions;

· a Heat Index Facebook page;

· photo galleries of Heat players and celebrity fans;

· The Scene – Jemele Hill covering the culture, scene and lifestyle angles tied to South Beach as it relates to the Heat and the buzz surrounding the team;

· contributions from athletes, including former Heat players, and celebrities who live in South Florida and are regulars at Heat games.

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