Wednesday night, the Miami Heat closed and latched shut the Celtics’ window for a second championship with the Big Three. Honestly, it was sad to watch the defending Eastern Conference champs slowly run out of gas as they once again squandered a fourth quarter lead and ran out of energy and lucky bounces down the stretch.
But as hard as it was to watch the wearied Paul Pierce trying to shoulder the load for an injury-ravaged Celtics team once again, it was even harder to watch scrubs like James Jones and Joel Anthony preen as if they had a hand in ending Boston’s Eastern Conference dominance.
It frustrated me watching Miami sweep Boston under the rug, not only because I root for Boston, but also because I’m a fan of basketball. Loyalties aside, here’s my beef with the Miami Heat:
Are you not entertained??!?
This is actually no fault of the team’s, but the Heat fans don’t seem to understand what they have on their hands. Tonight was a potential series-clinching Game 5 over a hated rival and the stands seemed half-empty until well into the first quarter, and maybe a bit into the second too.
If this had happened in any other series, the fans would have been ravenous, chomping at the bit to move on. The Heat are by no means a small-market team, but given the talent that they have it is absolutely embarrassing that they’re getting shown up by fans from even smaller markets (see Oklahoma City, Memphis).
When it comes to basketball, it seems that Miami’s crowd is the little brother of the crowd that shows up to Lakers games. Fans at Lakers games go there to be seen, especially if you’re a celebrity. Sometimes it seems more of an event that a professional sports game. The crucial difference between LA and Miami? Lakers fans know when to stand, when to cheer, and when to chant. They know how to influence a game and they know their basketball.
By no fault of their own Miami isn’t there yet, but as a result it doesn’t take the sting out of seeing a great sports city like Boston eliminated and a less passionate Miami fan base have their day in the sun.
Is this to say there aren’t savvy, clever Miami Heat fans with a high basketball IQ? Absolutely not. I’m merely stating what I have observed. And what I have observed stinks.
Not who we thought he was
Of course, I’m talking about LeBron here. As little as a year ago, LeBron James was the “Chosen One”, carrying the hopes of basketball fans everywhere. For the sake of the sport, we wanted to see the next Jordan, we wanted to watch an athlete that transcends his sport and is something bigger than just a superstar, but an icon. Admittedly this is a little unfair, but nonetheless, such is the stigma of the spotlight.
And then…well you know the rest.
Turns out LeBron is less Luke and more Anakin Skywalker (you’re welcome, nerds). Instead of toughing it out in Cleveland, he fled for Miami. I don’t blame him for what he did, management was not helping him by putting the likes of Larry Hughes and J.J. Hickson around him, but I absolutely hold him accountable for how he made that move and now he’s Dwayne Wade’s lapdog in Miami.
Wade is the undisputed emotional, offensive, defensive, and physical leader of that team. LeBron is just another piece of the puzzle, and as a fan of basketball, it’s sad to see him reduced to that.
All for one? Or three for one?
The Heat are not a great basketball team, and I know that sounds outrageous, but just follow me on this one. Basketball is the ultimate team sport. There are fewer moving parts than say, baseball or football, but more so than any other sport, basketball, on both the offensive and the defensive ends, requires a total team effort to be successful.
It’s no secret that Miami’s offense and defense runs through three guys: Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. On Wednesday night, the Big Three for the Heat scored 81 of Miami’s 97 points and the other two starters for the Heat, Mike Bibby and Joel Anthony, combined for four points in 44 minutes.
Two of Miami’s five starters combined for four total points and the Heat won the game.
Want further proof that Miami is the product of deep pockets and not a deep bench? 11 of the Heat’s 13 assists came from the Three Amigos, as did five of their seven steals and 28 of their 38 rebounds. Don’t get me wrong, the Heat would have been egregiously wrong not to make the deals they made in the offseason. Any time you have a former NBA MVP gunning to play in your city, you have to pull the trigger. (And any time you have an untested, soft center that spent the majority of his career in basketball hell in Toronto wanting to move south, you gotta lock that up too, right? But I digress.)But if anyone in the later rounds has the athleticism (Chicago?) to neutralize any one of the three big threats for Miami, they’ll easily be able to put the Heat on ice. Until then, it looks like the Heat are just warming up the oven.