What if the Heat win it all?


Remember the pre-season, when half the experts and analysts in the basketball media mega-world expected LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and the new Miami Heat to win the title in their first season together?  Then the regular season started, and the new Miami Heat looked more like a collection of individuals than a team and played with inconsistent effort and lack of cohesion leading to a few terrible streaks.  The title expectations basically evaporated when the dominant team that PER and WS predicted didn’t materialize.

Preseason victory celebration or Wades ankle injury?

But as the playoffs start, they are right in the hunt, not dominant, not favored, but a distinct possibility to walk off with the trophy.  Miami has the third best record in the league and will only need to win one series on the road unless the Spurs make the finals.  Miami has finally fallen into a consistent playing rotation, starting the steady, experienced and sometimes terrible Mike Bibby and the tall, steady, experienced and sometimes terrible Zydrunas Illgauskas at the point guard and center, flanking LEBRON-ON-On-on-on, DWWWWAAYYYYNNNNE Wade, and Chris Bosh.  The defense has picked up, and the roll players, particularly subs Jo-el Anthony (Son!) and Mario Chalmers, have found their groove pressuring and playing physical off the bench.

Meanwhile LeBron, Wade, and Bosh have finally figured out how to set screens and pass to each other.  Apparently when you’re a one man show no one expects you to run the pick side of a pick and roll or actually give the ball up to execute a give and go.  Now that they know how to play basketball, they are playing some good basketball.  James and Wade are shooting the highest field goal percentage of their careers, and as a team they’ve scored the highest proportion of paint points in the second half of the season after being primarily a deep two-point shot taking team through the first half of the season.

Everyone seems to have forgotten them under the stories of Boston’s post-Perkins collapse and Chicago’s Ros(e)y season, but Miami is a dangerous squad right now.  If they can get past a stumbling Celtics team whom they have homecourt advantage over and steal a game in Chicago against an inexperienced, one-dimensional (though highly competent) Bulls team, then they are in the Finals.  They have slapped the Lakers around pretty handily this season, and they blasted the Spurs once as well.

So what happens if the Miami Thrice, at whom so many spewed so much vitriol, actually win the title this year?  Are they forgiven for the hype if they actually live up to it?  Do they evolve from being hated to feared?  Will the title rectify their collective image as a group rather than a team in and of itself?  Historically nothing improves bad press like winning.  I remember when Michael Jordan couldn’t make his teammates better.  It was true right up until he won his first title according to a lot of sportswriters.  In fact he was considered something of a single-minded gunner while he was dropping 8 dimes a game with no championship rings in 1989 and was unquestionably a great and unselfish team player when he was wearing 5 rings and dropping 4 dimes a game a decade later in 1998.

Winning rights all wrongs, but what if LeBron wins?  Will it right the Decision, the Celebration, the Proclamation of dynastic intentions prior to playing a single game?  I have a feeling for most people it actually will.  It worked for Kobe.  It worked for Roethlisburger.  It worked for Ray Lewis.  LeBron didn’t even have to commit, or allegedly commit, a horrendous crime in order to garner his hate.  I expect the ring would wipe away his guilt just as cleanly.  What does it mean if it doesn’t?


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