What do you think is at stake tonight in Boston?
For the Miami Heat, that is.
How much does a loss diminish what they are, what they’ve done, what they’ve tried to accomplish?
Does elimination in the conference final – even at the hands of a team that’s been the better team overall since the series began – mean the whole Big Three experiment was an utter failure and that major changes should be in the offing?
And I’m thinking the very first change should be at the very top, where Pat Riley needs to find someone to come in and do some general manager’s duties because, frankly, this is as much on him as it is on any player or coach.
Sure, he was a tad hamstrung by cap rules in trying to put some role players around those three but, frankly, he’s failed at almost every turn.
Eddie Curry? Come on.
Ronny Turiaf? You’re joking.
A rookie backup point guard? Can’t do it.
Mike Miller? Surprised he’s been hurt? Not me.
Shane Battier? Best days are past him.
Sure, it’s tough to find guys but here’s one for you: Aaron Gray, who was a total free agent even as training camps began last December, looks like Wilt Freaking Chamberlain compared to the people the Heat are running out there.
Anyway, all that’s really at stake is, fairly or unfairly, the legacy of a team many thought would be unstoppable once it was put together.
It was all well and good and explainable when they lost last year’s Finals to Dallas and Dirk Nowitzki because Nowitzki was playing out of his mind. To lose in the conference finals this time around, to lose a Game 5 at home with Chris Bosh back, Rajon Rondo so-so and Paul Pierce unable to hit a key shot for 47 minutes and to blow a game they had in control on at least three occasions?
Inexcusable and perhaps an indictment on a team that has yet to really become a “team.” You look at the Heat and marvel at their individual talent but you look at the Heat and you don’t really see cohesion, or a togetherness, or a grittiness, or a heart and will that you see on truly great teams.
Look, Erik Spoelstra is not blameless is this mess. He botched Bosh in the fourth quarter of Game 5 – only the most significant quarter of the season for his team – and his psycho-babble “it’s just a loss, nothing more; we have to block out the noise” stuff is a pure sign to me of a guy who talks a better game than he plays.
Dwayne Wade, who loafs back on defence more than any star in the league ever has, also has to take some responsibility.
LeBron? He’s been outstanding for three quarters; like we’ve never heard that before.
Now, the Heat could very well figure it out and win the next two games and go on to play for another championship.
But even if they do, there’s just something that’s lacking there. And I think it’s going to bite them in the bum and the questions and changes will commence very soon.
Okay, stupid early flight today after a very short night (had an NBA ref call these kind of late-evening-early-wakeup days “night naps” during a social moment post-Game 3 in OKC) so we’ll get to comments when I get settled in Chicago.
Until then, feel free to fill the mailbag, I luuuuuuv hearing from you. Honest.
Euro2012, is it?
Now, Our Man Cathal’s over there to chronicle it as only he can and I’m certainly not able to break the game down tactically at his level and that’s fine. It means I can sit back and watch with interest and not really care about 2-4-4 or 3-4-3 or whatever it is teams employ.
It also means I can piggyback on the passion of a variety of fans; I love sitting back on my little stool and watching them live and die with every game, to learn about the players and the coaches and the teams and see the joy and the angst.
Trust me, it’s something you should all try at least once as this tournament unfolds, it’s not something we see all the time and it is quite something.
It also means I don’t have a true rooting interest but I figure I should, right? Should be one team I want to win and to watch and here’s where it gets sticky.
Well, because I continue to tilt against windmills, and have had my share of disappointments over the course of time – and I’m going way back to a time when we seldom saw soccer and there was something mythic about it – it’s kind of an easy choice.
So yeah, with memories of past losses and under-achievement dancing in my head, we’re all over the Netherlands.
Yes, Cruyff crushed me and Total Football became Total Letdown on so many occasions and that goonfest of a 2010 World Cup final was difficult to swallow.
And because of the number of times they’ve fallen just short, I don’t feel entirely like a front-runner backing them. Beside, they’re in The Group Of Death with Portugal, Germany and Denmark so perhaps it’ll be quick exit.
(Besides, the Mighty Stamford Hornets were orange and black, old habits die hard).
I can’t be there, unfortunately, but there’s this basketball thing in Toronto tonight that you should take in, if you can and you might want to get there early, bet there’s a good crowd.
It’s as good a collection of very young Canadian talent as you’ll see as the junior national team finishes preparations before it goes to the FIBA Americas world qualifier next week.
Details here; I know it sounds like a bit of a shill but what the heck, you should probably get to know some of these kids.
A total football aside.
The Canadian men in those blue one-time strips was an abomination, as we know.
I was telling someone about the other day about my aversion to blue (and I know it was a one-time thing but it was still wrong) and she says: “Wait ‘til you see what the women wear for their friendly against the USA.”
I’m intentionally not going to look before, I love a surprise.
Major league baseball’s draft has ended.
It was hosted by Jerry Lewis.
No Mighty Red Tiger was selected.