I want to prelude this article by indicating my inspiration for writing it. With the NBA playoffs at full steam, every analyst and fan of the game micro-scrutinizes every second of every minute of every game. I’ve even seen articles (with comedic intentions) about what players’ post game outfits indicated about their mentality. I’ve learned to take what is said lightly, since it is evident that even the “experts”, or as I like to call them, talking heads, fail to provide accurate analysis most of the time. Nonetheless, I read one article (for which the link I will provide after this paragraph and before my thoughts on this topic) that really aggravated my insides and boiled my blood.
This article by Christopher Kerr jumped considered that since both Miami and Dallas were up 3-1 in their respective conference finals, it would be safe to look ahead at the repeat matchup of the 2006 NBA Finals. Now, this was fine and dandy. What aggravated me was his (and many other author’s of articles or haters for lack of a better word) implication that Miami’s season would not be a fairy tale if they won the championship, while Dallas’ would be.
I consider this article to be incorrect on many levels.
Followers of the NBA, particularly fans of the Miami Heat know that this organization had been strategically moving pawns in preparation for last year’s monster free agent class. The fact that Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh would not only test the market, but likely unite (at least 2 of them) to form an NBA superpower was known and virtually a guarantee. Each and every NBA Executive and General Manager could have prepared themselves to place their organizations in the position to make a run at two or maybe all three of these guys. Several did. Miami was one of them. This “investment” to focus on last year’s free agency period by these organizations may have cost many of them money, games or even seasons, and even fans.
To speak in specific terms, the Miami Heat, an organization that I follow closely, traded away key pieces and took the necessary risks that it took to land these three superstars. Many forget that like Cleveland and Toronto, Miami ran the risk of not only losing out on James and Bosh, but losing its own superstar, Wade. Unlike the aforementioned franchises, Miami took greater risks, by essentially dismantling their 15 man roster in hopes of signing these three guys.
This fairy tale for the Miami Heat did not start this season, rather seasons ago when Pat Riley and the organization began preparations for last year’s free agency.
Further, because of the risks that this organization took in dismantling their entire roster to sign 3, yes, only 3/15 players, there was great risk that this move would backfire and cause Miami to have a roster full of veterans with minimum contract who were way beyond their years and signed in hopes of obtaining the very elusive championship ring.
Here, the second part of this fairy tale occurred. For the first time since I can remember (never??) took millions of dollars less than they could have been making elsewhere, in exchange for the chance to work towards the same goal. Lebron, Bosh and Wade could all have easily signed maximum contracts. It wasn’t about the money, and it wasn’t about individual accomplishments. They all took less money. Udonis Haslem also took considerably less money to play with Miami. James Jones, Eddie House, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Eric Dampier, and later, Mike Bibby all passed up money for a chance to work for an NBA championship.
This fairy tale for the Miami Heat will not be due to acts of selfishness, rather, sacrifice.
Moreover, while the majority of the NBA had some foundation to rely on at the beginning of the training camp and the season, Miami’s roster was seemingly a brand new team. Even with three stars, doom lurked closely as lack of chemistry became evident. Lack of chemistry can single handedly be the reason for a team’s defeat. Miami lost Wade during camp. Miller was injured shortly thereafter at the beginning of the season. Haslem suffered from an injury that sidelined him for the entire regular season. Miami began the season 9-8, lost 3 of the 4 games to the Celtics, lost all 3 games to the Bulls, and could not beat teams like the Mavericks. Miami faced adversity, criticism, hostility from away crowds, hostility from opposing players and essentially became the black sheep of the NBA.
This fairy tale for the Miami Heat may come due to dedication, hard work, toughness, and a word that Coach Spo uses too much for his own good, endurance.
So, Mr. Kerr, while the entire world criticizes Miami “buying” this championship, I’d like to remind you and the rest of the world that (1) every team had an equal opportunity, (2) the other 29 teams in the NBA did not hand us a championship, and 3 other teams still have a chance at the championship, (3) it too hard work, struggle, and endurance, (4) and while it seems we had a head start, the rest of the NBA actually had a head start on us, as we had to overcome our toughest opponent, chemistry.
While Dallas continually failed to succeed year in and year out in the playoffs, tweaked, and took roughly five years with nearly identical rosters to make it back to the finals, Miami rebuilt, tweaked and will likely make it back to the finals with an almost completely different roster. So, excuse me when I say that you are absolutely wrong. If Miami wins the championship this year, it will be a fairy tale. And a damn good one.