To tweak the words of the immortal silver-screen-baseball coach, Jimmy Dugan:
“There’s no crying in basketball!!!”
Actually, it would appear there is. After coach Erik Spoelstra outed his Heat players for crying in the locker room after yet another late-game meltdown against a top-flight foe, the internet was abuzz with talk of the weepy melodrama that has arisen from the Heat’s recent stretch of poor play. Even opposing players are reveling in the dysfunction down in South Florida. Dwyane Wade said it perfectly in his post-game press conference,
“The Miami Heat are exactly what everyone wanted, losing games. The world is better now because the Heat is losing.”
This may be a bit over-the-top, but the sentiment is still on point. The Heat are villains. They have been since “The Decision” left a sour taste in the mouths of 90% of NBA fans who felt that not only did Lebron embarrass his hometown Cavs on national television, but that this unholy alliance was years in the making and smacked of un-ethical collusion.
Conspiracy theories aside, there’s no questioning that the Heat have become the Yankees of the NBA; the team everyone loves to hate. Even the uniforms that they wear seem to be perfectly chosen for the role of NBA villains. Some athletes embrace that villain role. Relish in it. Thrive off of the negative energy. The Bad Boy Pistons teams of the late 80’s come to mind. As do the aptly nicknamed “Steel Curtain” defenses that the Pittsburgh Steelers rolled out in the 70’s. Others, however, do not feel as comfortable as the brunt of constant vitriol from fans of opposing teams. It would seem, at least to the outside observer, that the Heat are not relishing this role of villain quite as much as they claim to in interviews. All 3 members of the South Beach Triumvirate have spoken to the media, at different times, about embracing their new-found roles as chief antagonists in the NBA’s newly formed “Evil Empire”. The problem is, they simply don’t seem to be speaking the truth.
Watching their body language on the court and their demeanor in post-game interviews, they seem to be struggling with the status quo and that doesn’t bode well for them in the long-term. Remember, they all signed contracts with 3-year out-clauses that most assumed they would never use. Now, is it too much of a stretch to think that one of them just might? Let’s just imagine for a minute that 3 years from now the Heat are coming off another disappointing early exit from the playoffs. Let’s also imagine that tensions have reached a boiling point, several times over, concerning Lebron and D-Wade’s inability to share the ball in clutch situations. Lastly, let’s imagine that the Bulls have reached the NBA Finals for the 2nd straight year, losing to Dwight Howard and the Lakers. Can you envision Dwyane Wade, Chi-Town native, triggering his opt-out clause and joining forces with Derrick Rose in the Windy City to form what arguably might be the best backcourt tandem in NBA history? I certainly can and I know I’m not alone.
We’d like to hear from you on this. Give us your thoughts on whether or not the Heat will ever reach the potential they dreamed of. Let’s get our debate on…
-by Max Joice