Someone should check the water in the Biscayne Bay. First the Miami Heat organization goofed and celebrated a title prematurely. Yesterday The Miami Herald did the same thing, running an ad selling Heat championship apparel the morning after the Dallas Mavericks had captured the crown.*
The Heat’s celebration took place last summer, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh giggled like school girls on stage in front of a Miami crowd more raucous than it was during Sunday night’s game. The Not Big Enough Three liked the spotlight a lot less this June than they did last July, when “King” James declared he’d taken his talents to South Beach to win not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, and not even seven championships! We can’t say he was wrong. After Year One, the count stands at zero.
The concern some had when this trio came together was whether the other Miami players could provide enough. At that introductory celebration, the emcee concluded by telling the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh—your Miami Heat!” It was clear from the start this was not a team. It was James, Wade, Bosh, and The Other Guys. Could three star players beat a well constructed team?
We don’t know yet. Miami’s role players weren’t terrible. The Heat’s downfall was that its stars, particularly James, didn’t play like it. James’ plus-minus in the deciding Game Six was -24. If you were thinking he was nonexistent, you’re giving him too much credit. That number suggests he was actually detrimental to his team.
|Even those who live in alternate realities sometimes get mad. (Credit: Keith Allison)
For the last few years every basketball writer and fan on the planet has played psychologist, trying to get inside LeBron’s head. Maybe this task has proven to be fruitless because there just aren’t many sensible thoughts floating around in there. After Game Six, James was asked whether he is bothered by all the haters.
“Absolutely not,” James said. “All the people that were rooting for me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They got the same personal problems they had today. And I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things I want to do.” He added that people can get a few days or a few months of happiness over the Heat’s loss, “but they’ve got to get back to the real world at some point.”
That’s right, LeBron James does not live in the real world. His haters do, but he doesn’t. Statements like this are the reason why the LeBron jokes have been flying across the internet:
Why did LeBron skip college? Because he never shows up for the finals.
Today is LeBron James Day in Cleveland schools. Students can leave 12 minutes early.
And, my personal favorite: If LeBron wanted rings he should have stayed in Ohio and bought them from Terrelle Pryor.
James’ off-court reputation has been lost forever. He is the most hated athlete in sports and I don’t see the public embracing him again. But the book on his basketball legacy is certainly not closed. Perhaps only multiple championships can turn the story positive, but that’s not an unreasonable expectation. Anyone claiming the Heat should blow up the roster is not thinking clearly. Dealing Wade or James makes no sense; dealing Bosh for two or three quality pieces would likely be beneficial for Miami, but I’m not sure what team would offer that for a guy clearly not capable of being “the guy” on a championship team. Let’s not forget, this team lost in the NBA Finals, not the first round.
The Dallas Mavericks reminded us that you can’t win a championship—let alone seven—overnight. As Dan Gilbert tweeted, “There are NO SHORTCUTS.” Winning titles takes a lot of hard work. The real world is tough. LeBron wouldn’t know.
*I always love watching players don championship t-shirts on the field/court immediately following victory because I have this idea that all the apparel commemorating the losing team is shipped to some third world country. This means that the people of, say, Somalia believe LeBron just captured his second title. They think the Buffalo Bills were a dynasty in the 1990’s and Butler won the last two NCAA basketball titles. However, even Somalians know the Pittsburgh Pirates stink.