By: Shawn Davis
The confetti fell and the Thunder were there…watching the Heat celebrate their second NBA title in their franchise’s history. My prediction of Oklahoma City overwhelming Miami (in seven games) went up in smoke with every shot that Mike Miller put up in his NBA Jam-type performance. Miller hit seven three-pointers and I thought every one that went through the hoop was taking the air out of the Thunder.
Congratulations to the Miami Heat.
The critics (well most of them) need to put their grievances over how the team was assembled to rest already. It was done in poor taste; Dallas humbled them in last years Finals and they came into this season ready to earn all the hoopla they created with their introductory pep-rally celebration. I was with most of the nation last year in hoping the Mavericks would wipe the floor with this group because they acted as if winning the title was inevitable. That was weird for me because Dwyane Wade is one of my favorite players in the league along with LeBron James. The only thing that turned me off to this team was The Decision.
There isn’t a single great player that won a title alone; go find one. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman; Larry Bird had Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish; Magic Johnson had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (only the league’s all-time leading scorer by the way) and James Worthy; Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had each other. I could keep naming these guys all day long. One more thing: Every one on the aforementioned list is (or will be) in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. James looking to pair with Wade and Chris Bosh in order to get a championship didn’t bother me at all. You know what? He’s the 2012 NBA Finals MVP and a champion forever. Go get ‘em LeBron, go get it.
I was having a tough time – since the Finals concluded – with television and radio “personalities” already placing James right beside that Jordan guy you may have heard of. Really? Bryant is the closest player in the Jordan-template (almost spooky if you ask me) but even he (with FIVE titles) isn’t in the room with #23. So LeBron finally earns his crown (one, thus far) and he’s looking Air Jordan square in the eye? Let James be the great player that he is – and let him write his own career novel. All too many have forgotten how dominantJordan’s run was…please do not. It’s disrespectful. Then the whole “Lebron won his ring at 27 while Jordanwas28”argument is weak. I could counter that it took James nine seasons whereas Jordan got his in seven; please do not pick nits. Jordan went to college for three years while James went straight to the pros out of high school; so you see how asinine it is to compare when they earned their first champagne shower?
Bosh got to get his time in the light and as the unsung band member among the three; he got a chance to carry a huge load in the clinching game. With 24 pts, 7 reb, and 2 blocks he reminded those who have elected to forget that he is a top-flight player when he gets his touches. It was great coaching by Miami to alter their pick-and-roll attack with him in this series. What am I talking about? Since Bosh has been on this team they’ve used him as the “pop” or jump shot option in the pick-and-roll while allowing the ball-handler (James or Wade) to go to the basket or make the best play depending on the defense. A tweak that has him going straight to the rim after the initial screen action is devastating. The Heatles have existed and played at times where, honestly, they didn’t fit. The pieces fit now, it seems, and they all notched at least 20 points in the closing game. They may all average 20 ppg for next season…and add to the trophy case.
I hope the Thunder won’t let this loss fracture them. What they need to do is acquire an offensive post player at power forward or center; they NEED someone who does his work in the paint. This team is based on perimeter players and when their shots aren’t falling they look average which leads to the huge deficits they often find themselves in. A constant on-the-block force will help them get closer to being joyful the next time they walk under confetti.
Once again, congratulations to the Miami Heat. What a difference from last June, I tell you.