Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Is It OK To Like LeBron James And The Heat Now?

The Future Deep Playoffs
When LeBron made The Decision to go to Miami, he was, of course, pilloried for what he'd done to the Cleveland fan base and ownership. In no short order, the ownership ceded any pretense to the high ground, and screwing Cleveland Fan seems to be, well, something that the entire world does, so it's hard to get too worked up about that. But to a lesser but still important extent, many NBA observers chastised James for going to Miami, rather than New York or Chicago, where the mix to his needs seemed more, well, suitable. In Miami, he was going to be without a big man, beholden to the shaky health of Dwyane Wade, and spend the rest of his state income tax-free days losing in the playoffs to teams with real big men, and hating Chris Bosh for being a gutless jump shooter. Or something.

Tonight in Boston, the Heat ran their winning streak to 23 games despite a career game from Jeff Green, a howling mob of 18K privileged trustafarians that have spent much of their lives having nice things happen to them, and a 17-point hole that was, well, eradicated when (a) James got serious, and (b) the Celtics stopped making threes. Miami is the only good team in the East, and won't be tested until the Finals, if then. They are the defending champions, the odds-on favorite to repeat, and the premier destination for NBA free agents that want a ring and wildly open jump shots. Oh, and a teammate who's not just the best player in the world, but also a guy who seems genuinely happy to be that, rather than a joyless scold, a la Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

So, is it possible that James is actually, beyond his otherworldly on-court gifts, also seriously intelligent about hoop?

Remember, he had bigs in Cleveland. Admittedly, they were end-of-lifers like Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal, but such dinosaurs kept him from having to bang with the bigs night in and night out. He also had tolerable second bananas and hustle guys and a coach that did everything he wanted, and a team that got after things on defense. The Cavs were entertaining to watch even if James wasn't on the court, and always had a puncher's chance at the title. But what he didn't have was Wade to bring in the new era of dominant small/speed ball under the new rules, and a GM as canny as Pat Riley to understand that the age-old dictate that teams were built at Point Guard and Center was no longer the case.

It hardly seems likely, and for all we know, James was just locked into the idea that being near Wade was the start and end of his thought process, or that he really did think that much of Bosh's game. But in any event, there's no denying that The Decision has worked out as well as James could have possibly hoped, and that the people who thought they knew better than the player knew, well, nothing.

Plus, for as long as James and Co. are doing this, Celtic Fan is going to be utterly miserable, and know that they are rooting for nothing better than a pretender. What's there not to love?

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