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By any name, Penney is glad

Sun-Sentinel
By Ira Winderman
Staff Writer
Posted November 4 2003

DALLAS Pat Riley's first personnel addition as full-time president of the Heat comes from firsthand experience.

Four months after watching Kirk Penney go for 16 points in 17 minutes for the Minnesota Timberwolves' summer-league team against the Heat, Riley added the former
Wisconsin shooting guard to his injury-ravaged roster.

Penney was in uniform for Monday's game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. By tonight in San Antonio, he could be in his own uniform. Monday, his jersey read, "P-E-N-N-Y."

"I'd play in rags," he quipped, glad for an NBA breakthrough after being cut by the Timberwolves Oct. 23.

Riley's firsthand experience with Penney predates the
Orlando summer league. Riley, then still coach of the Heat, also scouted the 6-foot-5 guard at the Chicago pre-draft camp in June before opting to use the team's second-round pick on forward Jerome Beasley.

Considering his success both with the Badgers and
New Zealand's national team, it was somewhat surprising Penney went undrafted. He instead attended the Timberwolves' training camp, averaging 6.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists, while shooting .459 from the field and .455 on 3-pointers in seven preseason appearances.

"He was a guy that even going into the draft we liked," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And he's played in a lot of big games. We don't think he'll shrink when he gets out there on the big stage."

Penney becomes the second
New Zealand native to play in the NBA. The first was center Sean Marks, who left the Heat as a free agent in the offseason after playing two seasons under Riley.

"I spoke to Sean, and he said it was a great organization," Penney said. "Back home, they're making fun of all the Kiwis going to
Miami."

An All-America honorable mention as a senior last season, Penney helped lead
Wisconsin to a school-record 24 victories, including its first outright Big Ten title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen.

He represented
New Zealand in the 2000 Olympics, 2001 Goodwill Games and the 2002 World Championships, where he teamed with Marks for a fourth-place finish.

Quipped Van Gundy, "It's actually the
New Zealand pipeline. If you're from New Zealand, we want to bring you to Miami."

Awaiting his future in
Madison, Wis., before being beckoned at 1 a.m. Sunday to join the Heat, Penney said he has an immediate concern when the team returns home after tonight's game in San Antonio.

"I actually don't have any summer clothes," he said.

WALKER GONE?

To make room for Penney, forward Samaki Walker was shifted to the injured list.

Walker, who had been deemed fit by the team to return, had complained of a variety of ailments, including back and shoulder pain.

In announcing Monday's transaction, the Heat said
Walker had been deactivated "due to complaints about his shoulder."

Walker was injured in a July car crash, an incident that occurred before he was signed to a one-year, $1.7 million contract.

"He's home getting treatment," Van Gundy said.


 

Ira Winderman can be reached at iwinderman@sun-sentinel.com.

Copyright 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel