For all of us basketball fans, the Miami Heat's resounding victory over the Indiana Pacers last Friday night clinching the championship of the Eastern basketball Conference was all but a sight to behold. The Heat's 117-92 win over the Pacers earned them the right to yet their fourth consecutive trip to the finals against the San Antonio Spurs - becoming the first team ever since the Boston Celtics in the mid 1980's to achieve this feat.
Notwithstanding the magnanimity of the Heat's athletic triumph, for anyone who watched the six games Conference series, there were some indelible lessons to be learned which candidly could be applied by all of us in our daily lives, to wit, I thought the series proved, one more time, that "class" and "character" are just as much a part of winning in life as "talent" is, perhaps more.
Arguably, the Heat's LeBron James will go down in history as one of the best that ever played the game. There are, if you will, many players who cannot fetch-up to LeBron's standard of excellence, and probably never will, thus a perverted need to go Machiavellically dirty in disturbed crusades of frustration and disappointment, only to realize that, in the end, only the most skilled will prevail, albeit without the need to resort to such disdainful tactics.
Case in point, all throughout the series, there were ad nauseam examples of poor sportsmanship. Take for instance, Pacers Lance Stephenson's wicked display of immaturity, that included the taunting of LeBron blowing air on the superstar's ear; touching the later in the face on game six; sneaking into the Heat's head-coach Erick Spoelstra player's huddle; called for a flagrant foul for smacking Norris Cole on the face, and trolling to do just about anything he could to annoy the Heat's players - everything dirty that is; everything that comes out of man's worst instincts; everything to do with jealousy and nothing to do with athleticism or basketball - all to do with the archetypal frustrations typically found in losers. Ditto for the Pacers' coach, Frank Vogel, who's T.V.'s close-ups, showed the later, just about every time together with Pacers' super-star David West, as both lamented and grieved over anything and everything that did not go their way - all along as their counterparts, Spoelstra and James, remained stoically expressionless, as did the rest of the Heat team, even at extreme moments of despair.
Like I said earlier in the story, the lesson to be learned and the moral to the Heat story is one that most certainly transcends a basketball game or any other sport for that matter. There are, if you will, virtually just two types of people in the world. There are "winners" and there are "losers" - there are winners even as they lose and there are losers even if they win. It is not so much about winning or losing as it is about "class" and "character." Notably, the Heat organization is a "class" act, from beginning to end. From owner Micky Arison, to de facto GM Pat Riley to every single player in the team, everyone is a class act independently and jointly. That simple. Win or lose, the Heat will always be thought of as winners, in spite, mind you, of a collective longing by many wishing them to knocked-out of the throne, as evidenced by the vainglorious braggadocio we seem to endure every game spurred by T.V. hosts and sportscasters from ESPN and TNT calling the game - the price we pay for something that comes with the territory; the price we pay for being winners.
But it's all O.K., let them all, Stephenson, Vogel, the media, continue to bask themselves with their contemptible antics that show nothing except jealousy and intellectual mediocrity. Let everyone bemoan about our great Heat team as we, once again, contend to become National Champions once more. As for the rest us, let us take a page from this great Heat organization and let us remember always that there are many ways of winning in life, the most prevalent, however, being that to always show "class" and "character" in all we do in life. To the Heat, kudos for your athletic prominence and accomplishments, but most of all, for the exemplary greatness shown to the world both in and out of a basketball court.