Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Miami Heat’

The NBA, it’s FANtastic. Well, except in Miami…

November 19, 2010 1 comment

When LeBron decided to go to Miami I was disappointed. Not in a he disgraced all of humanity and should be burned on a stake in Salem kind of way, more like, huh… Miami? Really? Her? It wasn’t that he made the wrong choice, it’s just that he didn’t make the choice I’d have made. I’m sure Miami’s nice and everything (I hear it’s got a great personality), but if I were the greatest basketball player in the world, 25 years old, a free agent with the chance to take my talents (and the talents of one of my uber talented friends) anywhere in the basketball Universe, I’d have taken those talents straight to Madison Square Garden.

Whatever else you want to say about New York City, it is the center of the sporting world (North American edition). And while Football rules everywhere, and the Yankees are the greatest thing since moldy sliced bread, New York is a hoops town. New York City is the center of the basketball world and while it wasn’t created there, it was created there. On the playgrounds, in the Garden, it didn’t matter, basketball was interwoven with the street culture in a way I couldn’t hope to understand or explain. But, basketball rules in New York not just because of its history, but also because it’s the only one of the big three sports that’s actually played on Manhattan. It’s not in the Bronx, it’s not in Jersey, it’s in Manhattan. When Mark Messier led the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994, he became a GOD in New York. And that was hockey.

If you were young and great and you took your talents to MSG, you’d have the greatest City in the world eating out of your hand. You’d be playing in front of a packed house, with extremely savvy, rabid fans, hungry for some success, any success. Their energy alone would power you through the doldrums of January, when the schedule starts to look longer than Greg Oden in the shower. You would be their King. And that’s just for showing up, if you led that team to a title? Well… damn. You’d be bigger than Oasis, who were Bigger than the Beatles, who were BIGGER than Jesus.

So, that’s why I would have chosen New York, but instead James chose Miami and while I’m sure he doesn’t regret it, thus far it’s been somewhat underwhelming. And I don’t eve mean the team and their 7-4 record. When I’ve been watching Miami Heat home games, the whole proceedings seems to lack the sort of sizzle you’d expect form the most hyped team ever. At this point, I’ve watched four Heat home games this year and frankly, I’ve seen more excited crowds at a scrabble tournament. The arena has looked half empty, with whole sections barren and fans walking the aisles while the play is live. And the sound… well, lets just say that the crowd isn’t exactly reaching rock crowd decibels. It’s more like something you’d expect from a Rafi concert (who actually has something in common with LeBron, as he also turned the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden).

So, it was with some amusement that I heard on today’s PTI that the Miami Heat have sent out a memorandum to their fans, asking them to be, ahhh, well, fans. No, seriously. The Miami Heat have recorded a video asking their fans to “fan up.” Alongside that, they’ve also put up a banner on NBA.com:

FAN UP, Miami

Now, I can’t really blame Heat management, I mean you manage the coup of signing the top three free agents (two of whom are arguably the biggest free agents of all time), something that’s never been done in basketball and your fans reward you by arriving for the last half of the second quarter… and leaving before the end of the third. I’d be pissed too. I’d want to rile up my fans and give them a kick in the ass, but on the other hand, it’s Miami. Since when do the Heat have fans? Or the Marlins for that matter. Or the Or whatever the heck their hockey team’s called (I kid, I kid, I know it’s the Cougars…).

Outside of Dan LeBatard, the Dolphins and the Hurricanes, Miami is a TERRIBLE sports town. Their arenas are always empty, fans either arrive late and leave early, or don’t arrive at all and even those that are in attendance can’t be bothered to cheer. I get it, honestly, I do. If I lived in Miami I probably wouldn’t go to the games either. I mean, it’s Miami, there are freakin’ nice things you can be doing outside in the lusciously warm weather surrounded by hot people. Still, it’s pretty sad when an NBA team that doesn’t exist in Minnesota and isn’t owned by Donald Sterling has to remind its fans to “stand up and make some noise.”

The Curious Case of Chris Bosh…

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Last year when I wrote about the possibility of Chris Bosh leaving Toronto, Raptor fans flooded me with emails about how the willowy big man was massively overrated and how his departure would acutally help the team long term.  At first I scoffed at this absurd notion, but their response was so resounding that I actually came to believe that the Raptors might acutally be in line for soemthing of a Ewing Theory season.  Trust I don’t mean that they’re going to challenge the East’s powers for the Conference Championship or anything, more that they’d win 35 games or so, which given the pieces of their roster would seem like 15 more than their expected total.  Seven games in to the post-Bosh era, it’s tough to see that coming true, but more and more it’s looking like the Raptor fans might have been on to something with Bosh.

Nine games in to the Miami Heat season, the sky is falling in South Beach.  The most hyped team in NBA history, the team some fanatics thought would challenge Michael Jordan’s 1996 Bulls for the single season wins record is 5-4.  Five and FOUR, with two losses to the Boston Celtics.  It’s probably not the end of the world, but it certainly might seem so to some observers.  What the Heat’s record doesn’t tell us, is anything about what will happen in May and June.  Even those losses to the Celtics don’t really mean much.  The Celtics won on opening night in their home building with the Heat playing together for essentially the first time.  Last night, the Celtics won in Miami playing what amounted to a near perfect game, while Dwayne Wade had his second worst night of the year.  As everyone keeps pointing out, the Celtics are already an established, fully functioning machine, but they’ve only won these two games by a combined 13 points.  So, what happens if by June the Heat have become a choesive team?  Suddenly two losses in November don’t matter.

Anyhow, what interests me about the Heat thus far, is Chris Bosh.  From Ric Bucher’s chat today:

Logan (Maryland)
Do you think Miami could be a championship contender if Bosh played like he did in Toronto

Ric Bucher (1:09 PM)
Bosh is playing the way he did in Toronto. That’s the problem.

Ouch.

In reality, Bosh isn’t playing the same way, his rebounds are down significantly and his usage rate has been wrecked by playing with two ball dominating guards. The former probably will pick up as the season moves along and the usage rate will shake out a little as the Miami offense finds itself, but it is indicative of how much the move to Miami has hurt his stock that Bucher makes such a comment. Bosh has gone from being considered one of basketball’s top talents – not in the LeBron-Wade echelon, but in that second tier – to being a national punch-line.

Form the Tony Kornheiser show today,

“Chris Bosh stinks… he stinks, he’s like an average player isn’t he?”
– Mr Tony
“Yes, he is.”
– Eric Kelliher

Double ouch!

Last year Bosh was viewed as a player worthy of a 120 million contract. This year, Bosh received a 120 million contract (give or take). Now, he’s an average player. Does this strike anyone else as strange? Did Bosh change; did our expectations of him change? Or did nothing change and everyone’s just overreacting to a few games?

Maybe Bosh was overrated in the first place and maybe he’ll live to regret going to Miami where his warts are being viewed in a way they never were in Toronto. Of course, maybe the Heat figure their offense out, win a title and everyone forgets all the anti-Bosh hysteria.

NBA What Ifs…

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, a week into the season, the NBA is chugging along without any great surprises.  After their opening night stinker, the Heat have looked good, the Lakers are destroying people, and the Suns couldn’t defend a chair.  So, there’s not much really to talk about, except… some what ifs!

1) What if the Miami Heat had drafted OJ Mayo instead of Michael Beasley with the number 2 overal pick in the 2007 draft.

This summer the Miami Heat gave away the number two pick in the 2007 draft and 3 million in cash for a 2011 second round pick.  Think about that for a second, the Heat selected a player two years ago with the second pick who was so irrelevant to their future that they paid Minnesota to take him.  Pat Riley is going to win executive of the year for this season and deservedly so, but that’s a colossal waste of a high pick.  What makes it particularly galling, is that Riley knew it was a bad pick at the time.  He did everything he could to trade out of that pick and kept threatening to pick OJ Mayo… So, what if he had picked Mayo?  At the time, the problem with Mayo for the Heat, was that he was too similar to Dwayne Wade (albeit nowhere near as good), now however that’s exactly the player the Heat need.  With LeBron James acting as the de-facto point guard, the Heat don’t need a traditional point guard, they need someone who can defend and shoot.  Carlos Arroyo has been manning the position, but… come on.  Mayo’s a good defender and a great shooter.  In his two years in the league he has comfortably averaged 18 points a game on 45% shooting from the floor, with 38% three point shooting.  Of course, by dumping Beasley’s contract, the Heat were able to squeeze out enough money to offer Mike Miller his deal, but a) with Mayo they wouldn’t have needed him and b) if they really still wanted the long haired sharp shooter, I’m sure they could have found a way to make it work.  Now, the Heat are going to win 64+ games anyhow, so at some point it’s just an embarrassment of riches, but Mayo is exactly the kind of guard that the Heat want starting next to Wade and James.

2) What if the Knicks had not traded Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill to the Rockets last February?

Desperate to get Jeffries contract off their books in hopes of landing LeBron, the Knicks gave Hill (meh), money, and draft picks in 2011 (swap) and 2012 for Tracy McGrady.  The move did allow them to clear enough salary cap space to grab a second max free agent, but when Joe Johnson re-upped with Atlanta, Bosh (made irrelevant by Amare’s signing) and Wade joined in Miami, all the Knicks’ eggs were in the James basket… We all know how that ended and for all their efforts, the Knicks ended up Raymond Felton as their second banana…  Making matters worse, Hill and those picks are exactly what the Knicks need as they desperately pursue Carmelo Anthony.  If the Knicks had not made that deal, then they could offer up a package to Denver that involved their 2012 pick, Jeffries and Curry’s expiring deal (which would allow Denver to shed a onerous contract along with Carmelo) and a couple of young prospects out of A. Randolph, J. Hill, D. Gallinari, and K. Azubuike.  At this point, when Denver knows that Carmelo’s gone and nobody really wants to offer them much for him, that looks like enough to bring him to MSG (where he might need a hard hat, but that’s another topic for another day…).  Instead, the Knicks will have to hope that the Nuggets get desperate as the trade deadline approaches, because as it stands they don’t have the pieces to pull a Carmelo trade off.

3) What if the Zombie Sonics had drafted Joakim Noah and Steph Curry?

I sort of touched on this in my NBA Preview blurb on the Zombies, but I think I’m going to elaborate a little more and toss Curry in as well.  As I said then, I think that Sam Presti is easily one of the five best GMs in basketball, but there are two glaring examples of mistakes he made in the draft, that are holding back what could be a dominant franchise.  First, in 2007 he took Jeff Green fifth instead of Noah.  As I said two weeks ago, Green’s a nice player, but Noah’s the sort of hustle, rebounding, defense, unselfish player that helps teams win championships.  People are always talking about the Scottie Pippen to somebody’s Jordan, well Noah’s would have been the Dennis Rodman to Kevin Durant’s Jordan.  Only, you know, without the wedding dress, tattoos, and tantrums.

On top of that, the Zombies could have picked Steph Curry to pair in the backcourt with Russell Westbrook.  Look, I think it’s too early to throw James Harden under the bus, he’s only 21 and may still develop into a solid NBA player, but looking at him right now his ceiling seems more dependable rotation player than perennial all star.  Curry on the other hand is the sort of incredibly gifted, incredibly intelligent player who would pair perfectly with both Durant and Westbrook.  As John Hollinger points out in today’s PER Diem (Insider, sorry), the Thunder have underperformed people’s expectations this season in large part because nobody besides Durant can shoot.  Curry came out of the womb knocking down threes and he would help cure what ails the Zombies.  I know that Russell likes being a point guard and that’s fine, because with him, Curry would just slide into being the shooting guard (and what’s in a name anyway?); a position from which he would bomb threes hand out dimes, and make opponents pay for doubling Durant.  It would be awesome to behold and they’re all so young that it would just be a really fun decade of hoops in Seattle (what, if I’m changing their picks, I’m dam sure changing Howard Schultz selling them to an ownership group that was obviously moving them to Oklahoma.  Shame on you Howard, shame…).

The Zombies’ lineup (or, in this case, should I say the Sonics’ lineup) would be:

PG – R. Westbrook

SG – S. Curry

SF – K. Durant

PF – N. Collison

C – J. Noah

Bench: N. Krstic, S. Ibaka, T. Sefolosha, D. Cook, E. Maynor, C. Aldrich

Solid.  Too bad Presti missed out on those picks (and Shultz sold to Bennet and company), because that is a squad I really would have enjoyed watching…

NBA Preview Part 1 – It’s Getting Hot in Here, or at least Stuffy…

October 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The most anticipated NBA season since Jordan retired is set to kick off with an absolute must-see game on Tuesday night, which makes this the perfect time to begin some sort of NBA preview. Of course, I also have an assignment due for my Art Education class, so maybe this is actually the perfect time to write that…

Nah.

There is no way around the reality that this offseason was the most hyped in NBA (and possibly sports) history. It was talked about basically from the moment that LeBron, Wade and Bosh signed their post rookie contrats, with the momentum swelling like a tsunami as the Summer of 2010 approached. For the NBA, the penultimate outcome of all that hype really couldn’t have been any better. After weeks of front page speculation, the “big three” free agents joined forces and, in so doing, became wrestling style villains. There have been millions of words spilled on The Decision and I don’t really have anything new to add, so I wont bother… much.

Suffice to say that we want our sports heroes to choose things like people, place and the pursuit of titles over the largest possible payday, but then when they do, we criticize them anyhow. If I had been LeBron, I wouldn’t have taken my talents to South Beach (I would have taken them to New York, where the Garden could have become the ultimate throne), but I can’t really begrudge him wanting to play with his buddies in a city that’s always hot, and always HOT.

Will this affect his legacy? Perhaps, but as Chuck Klosterman so wisely pointed out during his BS Report appearance back in July, sports is the only avenue where we criticize public figures for not thinking about their legacy. When actors, musicians, or politicians are seen chasing their legacy we tear them to shreds. When Jordan suits up for the Wizards, Emmet plays for the Cardinals, or LeBron chooses to take his talents to Miami, we criticize them for ruining their legacies. We, the public, are a hypocritical and conflicting audience, which is why LeBron made the absolute right choice (albeit in the absolute wrong way): he did what he wanted. That’s all that really matters, he’s the only person he needs to satisfy. The rest of us? Well, we’d have found a way to criticize him no matter what he did.

Of course, the Heat will be villains this year. In the aftermath of The Decision, I heard Simmons alternately compare LeBron to Hollywood Hulk Hogan and to Alex Rodriguez. Both were (are) despised, but that’s fine, because it allows the Heat to play the proverbial US against the World card. Perhaps even more importantly, it allows the NBA to market a super villain and believe me, every league wants a super villain. There can’t be a Superman without Lex Luther, Spiderman without Green Goblin, or a Professor X without Magneto. And, there certainly cannot be a Dark Knight without the Joker, so the Heat will play 41 games this year in their liar where they are protected by their fans (at least the ones who arrive on time) and they will play another 41 where the fans want their blood. Every team is going to bring the best version of themselves with the intention of knocking the Heat off a perch to which they’ve yet to climb. It will be great theatre and it will be great basketball. I, for one, can’t wait.

%d bloggers like this: