The Beard is Free
I'm not going to get into the specifics of the trade nor dissect the disadvantages and advantages for both teams because every writer, columnist, analyst and teenager with an ESPN account has already beaten that drum to death. What I will do however, is point to the fact that Miami Heat fans should be celebrating Harden's departure. Before the trade, the Thunder were LOADED, but most importantly, suffered the painful experience of losing in the NBA finals just like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did in 2011. Throw in a gold medal for USA, add a tightly knit brotherhood and what do you get? A DYNASTY.
Once the trade was final and word had spread, it wasn't long before LeBron James expressed his thoughts via twitter. Pay attention to the undertone and translucent sense of happiness from LeBron's tweet:
And if you think I'm reaching a bit with the tweet (which I could be), just ask yourself this; If you were LeBron James and just spent almost two months practicing/playing with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden for team USA, while knowing that they're the most notable thing standing between you and your 2nd championship, would you be happy or sad that this trio got broken up?
Can Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb make up for Harden?
No they can't! I'm one of those people that passionately disagrees with those claiming Martin and Lamb will pick up the pieces. I'm prepared to eat my words if they do, but I'm also prepared to continuously remind people if I'm right. Harden did so much for the Thunder and to simply state that Martin can replicate his scoring load is an insult to what the beards contribution and overall value was.
Jeremy Lamb and the future draft picks could fill the void Harden left, that I can't argue. But for this season, I can't envision how a team could quickly cobble together the amount of chemistry, enjoyment, understanding and cohesive energy that those three built over the years. Oh, and by the way, Harden did pretty well in his debut as a Rocket:
Harden is the 13th player since '06 with at least a 37-point, 12-assist game. Only 3 have multiples in that span: LeBron 5, Wade 3, Nash 2.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 1, 2012
And just for pure shock value and shot in the dark humor; I wouldn't be surprised if James Harden's stats are better than Kevin Martin's and Jeremy Lamb's combined this year. Seriously?
The Heat dominated the Thunder last year
No, they absolutely did not! I've been hearing a lot of this nonsense too and frankly, it really baffles me how short peoples memories are. This is how life wokrs; If I barely pass the first 3 exams but then get a 95 on my final, people will look back and say "man you aced that class".
It's the Recency Effect. Miami squeaked by games 2 through 4 and then blew out the Thunder in game 5 and people naturally forgot about how grueling a series it was. Fact is, three of the four victories for the Heat, were by 6 points or less. Were the Heat the better team? Of course! But that was an extremely close 5 game series.
It's very simple. The Thunder were the Heat's biggest challenge and competitor, coming into this season. The Thunder have lost one of their most important pieces. Thus, the Heat can breath a little easier now.