Over the last three minutes of game 5 of the 2011 EC Finals, the Heat went on an 18-2 run, and the Chicago Bulls played great defense. I mean they were intense. They cut off the paint. They forced tough, covered jumpers. But LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hit very difficult shots. Again. That’s how they beat Boston in two of their four wins. That’s how they beat the Bulls in three of their four games. That’s playoff basketball at its highest level.
It’s probably a bitter pill for a lot of the critics to choke down, particularly after being able to exult in the tribulations the Heat faced throughout the season. First they couldn’t control their backboards when Wade and Haslem were hurt. Then they couldn’t get Wade and LeBron to mesh. Then they couldn’t close out tight games. Now? Now they can rebound with the Bulls. Now Wade can work without the ball to get himself involved, and LeBron can run a pick and roll to perfection. Now LeBron and Wade can hit big shots to win close games.
For the media storyline of the season, it’s sad that it turns out that humility isn’t the prime attribute in winning basketball games. If it was, then Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant would be preparing to play each other in the NBA Finals, and there would be much rejoicing. Of course if we look back for humility in Finals MVPs – Kobe, Kobe, Pierce, Parker, Wade, Duncan, Billups, Duncan, Shaq, Shaq, Shaq, Duncan, Jordan, Jordan, Jordan, Olajuwon, Olajuwon, Jordan, Jordan, Jordan, Thomas, Dumars, Worthy, Magic, Bird, Kareem… Well, I guess humility might have the prime asset of Joe Dumars in his basketball career. The rest of them not so much.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Rose and Durant are fierce competitors. I just found it funny that the media was so excited by what humble, wonderful people these two guys were. The storyline took over, and writers started judging the players’ on-court abilities by their likable personalities and deriding LeBron’s on-court abilities for his offseason Decision. Durant was the favorite to win the MVP because LeBron wasn’t loyal to Cleveland or hungry for the pressure of winning in New York or confident that he could win a title without top-tier superstar help, or whatever the sin of changing teams was. The Miami threw a party after the signing and LeBron promised titles, which Rose spoke softly and carried a big dunk. Therefore Rose became better than LeBron. Odd logic.
Good is good. From our list of hyper-arrogant winners above, we see that ability and success in the playoffs has little or nothing to do with staying humble (Hell, Jordan, Shaq, and Kobe account for 11 of the last 20 Finals MVPs – all three basically breathe arrogance). Am I being hypocritical in lording it over the people who decided to lord it over LeBron and mistake attitude for ability? Maybe. But in the spirit of humility and friendliness, let me ask on behalf of the Heat, “Who’s crying in the lockerroom now?”