Go West, Young Men: The Heat’s Failure of Courage
June 12, 2012 13 Comments
Among the reasons the Miami Heat are so easy to hate is that James, Wade, and Bosh chose to play together in the NBA’s weak eastern conference. If the boys considered themselves such hot stuff, why didn’t they join forces in Golden State? Yeah, I know payroll may be part of the answer; to talk about the NBA nowadays, you have to be an accountant. But it can’t be coincidence that the three all-stars thought it would be fun to play together where they could let most of the league’s best teams fight it out amongst themselves, while they sat back, ready to face whomever was left standing.
To represent the west in this year’s finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder had to beat the reigning champs, the previous champs, and the team with the best record in the league, one that had finished the season on a ten-game win-streak it had run to 18 by the time the series with the Thunder started. The Heat’s biggest challenge, on the other hand, came from an aging Celtic team with several players injured. That getting through each round has taken the Heat more games than the Thunder has not been caused by the strength of the competition.
The Thunder had to beat the west’s #1 seed. The Heat had to beat the team that beat the team that beat the east’s #1. The east’s top seed, in other words, was no playoff threat (due to injuries). (And yes, the Bulls tied the Spurs for the best record, but seeing how hobbled they were at the end, I feel comfortable breaking that tie, as I do in the paragraph above, in San Antonio’s favor.) This is not the Heat’s fault, but it does make their reaching the finals less impressive. Nor is the general weakness of the east a surprise; it was clear when the Great Celebrators selected Miami as home.
Eventually the Heat’s annual cakewalk to the finals should result in a championship. It might even happen this year. When it does, the conference the stars chose is among the reasons it will feel tainted.