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Writer whiffs on Dwyane Wade comments

I like to think I'm not shy about criticizing the Miami Heat. I don't act as a fan per se, more of an observer who certainly likes to see the team do well. Clearly, I don't mind tacking against the fan base, as evidenced by my Kamikaze mission of critiquing Pat Riley. But this time, I'm going to stand up and defend the Heat against detractors. One specifically. Sam Smith is a fantastic NBA writer and one who's not known as a softball kind of guy. Anyone who's familiar with the book "The Jordan Rules" knows he knows how to share a story unvarnished. But in response to Dwyane Wade's comments regarding the loyalty - or lack thereof - of the Chicago Bulls organization, his analysis, and criticism, of the Miami Heat is wholly flawed. Smith, a former Chicago Tribune writer who now covers the team for, took to the Wade-gate front by getting reaction from Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. A natural move. He then lays out reasons why the Bulls shouldn't be considered disloyal. Some of them are a bit questionable to me (most of the high-profile players Smith cites are little-known outside Chicago, a point that will come up shortly). But in his defense, he commits the same crime he decries from Dwyane Wade; he attacks the Miami Heat with limited information. Let's start where we just left off, how Smith claims the Heat don't place former players in high-profile positions. While that is true that no former player has coached the team, that's largely due to the fact that the Heat came into existence in 1988, and any player who had a significant connection to the franchise probably wouldn't be seasoned enough to make it as an assistant. The Bulls, founded in 1966, don't exactly have that problem. And as for the players who do play a role in the franchise, he belittles as "minor contributors," including one Alonzo Mourning. Alonzo Mourning as "minor contributor"? Some people might not be the biggest fan of Zo, but to call a seven-time All-Star a minor contributor, while hailing the work of Randy Brown, Pete Myers and Stacey King is completely asinine. If the Heat go another 20 years and don't have any former players besides Keith Askins on the bench, give me a call. Second, Smith hails the front-office loyalty the franchise has had, listing a number of long-term executives. That's certainly valid, but to ignore the Heat's loyalty is inexcusable. Ron Rothstein is still a crucial part of the team, 22 years after he was named the franchise's first head coach. While Bob McAdoo didn't play with the Heat (having retired two years before the franchise was formed, it would be difficult), he's been on the bench for 15 years now. Dave Fitzdale started in the video room, just like head coach Erik Spoelstra. If you want to look at a franchise that represents internal development and promoting from within, just look at Spoelstra; it tells the story. And of course we must address Stan Van Gundy. It certainly wasn't the franchise's finest hour, and it's easy to cast Pat Riley as the villan. But it wasn't all about Pat and Stan. Shaquille O'Neal played a critical part in that soap opera, and while caving to his demands may not have been the most upstanding thing to do, Riley's responsibility is to the health and stability of the franchise at any cost. O'Neal didn't want to play for Van Gundy, and a top-five coach of all time was sitting in the building. What was he to do? Factor in legitimate family concerns for Van Gundy, and the entire scenario becomes a much muddier situation than most think. Ultimately, Smith's rebuttal - and my re-rebuttal - are pointless. In this case for Dwyane Wade and the Bulls, perception is reality. If Dwyane Wade thinks you're not loyal, then that's getting factored in to his decision, and that's that. Smith's defense of Chicago is pretty accurate and puts the franchise in a good light. But to accuse Dwyane Wade of misinformation regarding another team while misinforming the public about another team is regrettable to say the least. Sam Smith can do better than that.