Whether you are a fan of the Miami Heat or not, you can see that being down 2-1 in their playoff series against the Indiana Pacers has them in a corner. Of course, all the “heat” is on LeBron James, the superstar forward whom Pat Riley brought to Florida to win a championship. The problem begins with this philosophy and needs to be corrected: No one player, no matter how great, can win an NBA championship on his own, even one as great as King James.
This Heat team looks nothing like the bunch of guys who steamrolled my New York Knicks in the first round. Chris Bosh is hurt for one thing, and it looks like an impostor hit Dwayne Wade over the head and is taking to the court in his place. How else can you explain his missing an easy layup in game 2’s final seconds and getting into an argument with head coach Erik Spoelstra in game 3? He certainly looks like a different person, so President Riley better get some DNA swabs and make sure about things.
Getting back to James, is it unfair for everyone to be placing the blame on him? Well, he only has himself to blame. The “heat” is on him because he came to Florida to win championships. Note that word is plural because no one expected him to go there to win just one. The problem is that one player cannot win a championship, and this goes for the greatest players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. If the team built around that superstar falters, he is not going to be able to carry the load alone.
Knicks fans know this all too well. Our version of James is Carmelo Anthony. Again, he couldn’t do it all on his own, and this year when Jeremy Lin went down, Amar’e Stoudemire faltered, and the rest of the team struggled, everyone was blaming Anthony. You can do that all you want but it doesn’t change the truth of the way to win in the NBA playoffs.
Right now, even despite the stupidity of Pacers reserve guard Lance Stephenson putting his hands around his neck like he was choking in reference to James (an incident he later apologized for), it does seem as if nothing is going to jump start this Heat team. Yogi Berra said “It ain’t over until it’s over,” but it sure feels like it’s over for Miami going into game 4.
So you can blame James all you want, and when he looks in the mirror he must blame himself too. Can you imagine if he had stayed in Cleveland and eventually won a championship there? The word “legend” would have been legitimately attached to him forever, even if the Cavaliers never won another championship. Now in Miami it is another thing entirely; if he doesn’t win there, he looks like the biggest loser, but so does Riley for not doing more to give James a shot at it all.
In the end it will be James standing in front of the mirror, staring at himself, and mumbling the Marlon Brando line from On the Waterfront: “I coulda been a contender.” Maybe in Cleveland, but in Miami, he is looking like just another guy who couldn’t win. Yes, the heat is on him and for now he is wilting.
Photo credit: nba.com