By Wes Lilliman
Head Coach: Eric Spoelstra
PG – (Some Dude)
SG – Dwayne Wade
SF – LeBron James
PF – Chris Bosh
C – (Some big dude)
Bench – (Mike Miller and a bunch of random dudes)
So, how in the hell am I supposed to figure out what’s going to happen here?
This isn’t anything familiar to anyone. There’s no precedent for this.
We’ve never seen two of the game’s most iconic players come together in the prime of their respective careers. Not like this. This isn’t like “The Big Three” in Boston. This ain’t the same as Shaq/Kobe (or Shaq/Wade, for that matter). We’re not even talking about a Kareem/Magic situation.
No, what we have is LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, two dynamic and multi-faceted players who reside at the top of the NBA’s mountain of players. Professional rivals by default but friends outside of the game, uniting with the purpose of winning the whole damn thing and enjoying each other’s company while doing it for years to come.
Additionally, they got their other buddy, Chris Bosh, to join the party. Bosh isn’t on their level and the jury’s still out on how good he really is, but his work so far can’t be denied, proving that he’s at least an effective player and a guy that would be coveted by any team as a top player to have.
Anyhow, back to James and Wade. We have two absolute, franchise guys who are perimeter-oriented yet basket-attacking mega-athletes. There probably isn’t a more intimidating combo that you could possibly put together using any of the current players in the league. Either alone is enough to make an opponent sweat, but both of them coming at you? Christ.
Alright, you know what? Enough of what everybody already knows. Here’s the lowdown on what Miami is going to have to do and deal with this year.
Let’s start with the fact that the new additions have a weak supporting cast. Weak as hell. I don’t care what you’ve been hearing about Carlos Arroyo and/or Mario Chalmers being effective point guards. Come on – knock that shit off. Neither have proven to be any sort of a floor general or intelligent facilitator of any sort. Yeah, they can fill the role, but who here thinks either will be bringing the ball up in any situation that matters? I sure as hell don’t.
How about the other end of the continuum? How about the post players this team has? Joel Anthony? Big Z? Jamaal Magloire? I seriously had to sit through Oklahoma City’s patronizing, condescending, bullshit-artist Brian Davis (play-by-play guy) tell me about the merits of all three during an exhibition game with the Cavs. Listen, Anthony has proved nothing. Ilgauskas can step out and hit a jumper, but he misses a lot of those, too. Plus, he’s a weak finisher and seems a bit meek as he blindly follows LeBron wherever he goes. Magloire was an All-Star… 7 years ago. Again, all of these guys can step into the spot, but we all know that the post players possessed by the likes of Los Angeles, Boston, and Orlando will eat these fools alive.
Miami does have a few role players that are a little more interesting, but still being blown out of proportion. The most notable is sharpshooter Mike Miller, who everyone is saying will set all the 3-point records in th
e world and benefit from the attention that Wade and James will get. Well guess what? Mike Miller is already out until January with a thumb injury. In fact, he’s played all 82 games of a season only one time, which was his rookie year (10 years ago). Don’t get me wrong, Miller was a great pickup because the Heat sorely needed pure shooters. Unfortunately, he’s the only one they got (don’t start talking to me about Eddie House or James Jones – just don’t).
Udonis Haslem is also being heralded as a key supporter, and he is a tough, gritty, warrior-type. He’s also a guy that Wade trusts, but do you think he is touching the ball in crunch time? Neither do I. It doesn’t matter, though, because he likely won’t see the court in those situations.
This is literally all about James, Wade, and Bosh playing over 40 minutes at night and having to be jack-of-all-trades type players. James and Wade are going to have to run the point a lot and provided swarming double-teams and supreme athletic defense to make up for the team’s liabilities in the post. They’re both capable of doing so, but they better have their conditioning levels maxed out. Bosh is going to have to guard bigger, more inside-savvy guys on a consistent basis, all while getting used to being something other than a team’s top option. Let’s face it – he was a big fish in a small pond up in Toronto, and he has very little in the way of big game experience. Rest assured, the demand on these guys is going to be huge…
… and that’s already an issue. Both James and Wade have pulled up with hamstring injuries, and we’re not even playing regular season ball yet. Wade has always struggled with injuries. James, on the other hand, hasn’t had anything major, but if his approach thus far is any indicator, then he just might break.
It’s clear that James is motivated. He’s looked like a raging bull out there… all-business and 100 MPH the whole time. That sounds great on the surface, but two things come to mind:
1) Great performers, of any kind, have the ability to go hard, but they know that they have to pick and choose when to do so or they’ll wear out and self-destruct, no matter who they are. It’s not about hard work and determination – it’s about the efficiency with which you use those things. Watch Kobe Bryant sort of go through portions of games on cruise control, and then suddenly flip the switch and bring the hammer down. Hell, watch ENTIRE TEAMS like the Lakers or the Celtics sort of walk their way through the regular season, only to lock-in and dismantle everyone when it matters.
2) James is at his best when he’s loose and having fun. Part of his maturity may see a little more of a serious side, but he can’t lose sight of what got him to the dance. Feel free to smile out there, LeBron… it’s okay.
I watched James put his head down and try to will the Heat (sans Wade) to a victory against Atlanta a few nights ago. Everybody else on the team just stepped aside and let him go to work. It almost worked, but it didn’t. The Heat lost, and I thought to myself, “… where have I seen this before?”
The answer, of course, is the Cleveland Cavaliers of the past few years, led by LeBron James.
The good news is that he shouldn’t have to do that. Wade will be there as a guy who can nail huge shots and is comfortable under pressure. As a result, James will become even more dangerous as a monster who is free to roam, distribute, attack, distract… you name it. He’s got the ability to do all those things. Finally, both truly will take pressure off of everyone else, so a guy like Bosh should be able to get off.
The trick for coach Eric Spoelstra is to find a way to manage all of this. It’s both easy and challenging. On one hand, good things are virtually guaranteed when you have guys like the ones he has. But, he’s going to have to figure out how to fit everyone else in, what combinations work best, and how to most effectively utilize the supporting cast in any given scenario.
I have no doubt that Wade and James are going to rings together. It’s only a matter of time. The question really pertains to how soon that happens.
IF THEY GET LUCKY: It really does work. The sheer talent of the big guns is enough to counter teams that are more solidly composed from top to bottom. Additionally, the rest of the group contributes, and the whole unit clicks. It also wouldn’t hurt them if a few of their competitors got old and/or h
urt. Speaking of which…
IF THEY DON’T: Injuries, injuries, injuries. A significant loss of either Wade or James would be crushing to this team. The sheer amount of work they’re going to have to do is extraordinary, and they’re faced with the prospect of teams bringing their absolute best on a nightly basis. That can break anyone (yes, even Jordan) down if the support isn’t there.
REALITY: Right now, you should forget the talk of 70 wins. It’s not going to happen, and it isn’t even necessary. I think they’ll get 60-62 and be the top-seed out of the East. I struggled with this DECISION, but at the end of the day, I look at the Celtics (and possibly Orlando) and I think that those teams are built to beat the Miami Heat of this year. Like I said, this group will get their titles, but I’m saying it might be a year or two before they have the proper combination of stars and supporters. Oh, and the other reality is that you should watch this team every time you get the chance, because it’s going to be fun.
(HEAT BONUS) TAKE YOUR TALENTS TO SOUTH BEACH… SO YOU CAN WATCH RONY SEIKALY AS A D.J.!!
What in hell.
Apparently, former Heat center, Rony Seikaly is a D.J. now. From this:
… to this:
Here’s the bio from his website:
“As an NBA star Rony Seikaly was known as “The Spin Doctor” and this auspicious nickname has been translated into a very successful rise into one of the most sought after DJs in the world. The mastery is just the same. Previously, he “spun” his opponents on the basketball court and now he spins his records and people’s minds with his carefully selected House music style that people call ‘Rony Style.’”
There was more, but really, that’s enough.
Seriously, I don’t even know where to start, so I’m not going to.
You can go to RonySeikaly.com to hear his work. Or you can just get out your old Casio Rapmaster keyboard, select “Beat 1,” and loop it for 5 minutes. You’ll be “spinning people’s minds” in no time, just like Rony does.
I’m not long for this world.