It’s Been Often Been Said When You’re Winning Life Is Good Real Good
I can’t help but notice but this NBA — season and the pretensions of grandeur from a number of teams have been anything but that. And as remarkable as it has been so far much of the blames lies with the fact that the expectations was readily fomented by the teams themselves and that of the print media and the various networks covering the NBA. Already we’ve seen Jeff Van Gundy backtrack somewhat as to his belief that the Miami Heat would be on their way to a record breaking season surpassing the 95-96 Chicago Bulls and their march to basketball immortality. Hold your horses Jeff and step away from the salvia as things aren’t as they seem. Granted , the Heat seemed to have righted the ship after their somewhat inauspicious start just when you thought it was safe to step back into the water Erik Spoelstra’s —— team led by their well documented acquisitions from the offseason and the franchise’s true face simply have found another way to disappoint.
‘The Decision’ as it came to be known has been something of a harbinger to LeBron James and the fact that he now might be the most despised person in the NBA still rings true. Alongside James we have the free going Chris Bosh who to my mind is simply along for the ride on this roller coaster . Well it’s not as if his contributions to the Heat will be greatly acknowledged to begin with. Because it all comes down to essentially what James and Dwyane Wade will do for the Heat this season . Think of the trio as ‘The Three Stooges’ minus one , with basketball acumen all wrapped around the skills of James and Wade and Bosh simply being there for the prat-falls and being the inevitable fall guy.
Slide show for your perusal .
While the Heat have been playing at a high level there have been times when you simply look at this team and wonder what would happen if either James or Wade were to go down with a prolonged injury or if either of the main duo were to lose their scoring touch ? Not only that but as athletic as the ‘Big Three’ are deemed to be the rest of this Heat team are anything but that as they are somewhat lethargic and in many ways unproductive. Does anyone truly believe that aging veterans such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Eric Dampier can really contribute to this team ? Never mind that the Heat are relying upon Carlos Arroyo to be in large part the team’s point guard . I know that the main architect behind this all was the NBA’s answer to Frankenstein but clearly Heat team President Pat Riley has simply gone for a great deal of glamor over substance in assembling this team . OK so Riley’s ego could almost match that of Donald Trump’s but even with that in mind like the business entrepreneur he’s not been a great none to being receptive to the criticism leveled at him by the media and fans alike. But I make the comparison here , what Riley is now doing is in reality is no different than what we’ve seen from the New York Yankees in their heyday when they were being led from their ivory tower by the late George Steinbrenner . This time around however the pressure is on Riley and Heat to win and win almost immediately so that the organization can reap the benefits competitively as well as financially. His array of stars and minor pieces though they’ve yet to do anything of significance they are most definitely ………..‘the hottest ticket in town and almost everyone who’s prepared to pay wants to see them’.
Last night in their matchup against one of the main contenders from the Western Conference the Heat met with the cooled off Dallas Mavericks who like the Heat had been riding a double digit win streak . So much so that this was as good a test as any to gauge the resiliency of both teams. Dirk Nowitzki was leading a team that has this year seem to have gotten something of an identity but I’d preface this by saying these Mavericks will no doubt be the same old Dallas Mavericks we’ve come to expect once the postseason comes around . They’ll either fight tooth and nail or simply fold up like a wrinkled cheap suit that has been worn repeatedly to too many public functions. That simply is the persona that we have come to expect from Mark Cuban’s bauble. And if the Mavericks are to contend not just with the wealth of opposition within the Western Confrence they are also having to deal with one of the perceived favorites out of the East as well . And how they deal with the likes of the Miami Heat may well give them some sort of indication as to ultimately what they’re up against. This much we do know Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle if he’s to win his first NBA title then he’ll have to get this team play with a great deal more physicality than they’re no doubt accustomed to.
The one disadvantage that Spoelstra has with this Heat roster is the fact that at times they’ve become complacent and merely think that they can simply outscore their opponent at will without doing the real work in the trenches ___ defending when it’s needed . That has been one the glaring flaws on this team alongside the that they haven’t an offensive minded center or a truly creative point guard. But this seems to be the foil that Riley and Spoelstra feels that best suits their needs but it may well change come the trade deadline as I do believe that there may well be one or two roster changes made to this team.
The game itself between the two teams came down to who was simply going to be able to stop Dirk Nowitzki as he simply led the Mavericks by example. The Heat on the other hand struggled at times to make their presence felt and that was even light of James and Wade doing their utmost on both ends of the floor. Suffice to say that the Miami Heat came up short in their quest to take down the Dallas Mavericks with the resultant 98-96 loss . As to what this says about this Heat team and the desire of LeBron James to come to a place where he’s eager to help this franchise win and if anything further make himself an even bigger marketing brand for the corporate behemoths on Madison Avenue and Wall St well I think it’s best left to those who wish to make a call on that particular subject. From my own perspective if LeBron James can’t maintain a standard whereby he was the prolific scorer and defender when he was being lauded as the best player in the league . Then much of the praise that the self titled ‘King’ has come to expect will ring out loud to a chorus boos. He’s already had that with his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers and also with the Heat’s most recent visit to Madison Square Gardens when the New York Knicks hosted the Miami Heat. What now happens should the Heat fans start to show their displeasure if in their eyes ‘The King’ and his teammates are said to be underachieving ?
The Orlando Magic now playing second fiddle to their instate rival have made something of a splash themselves . Having acquired from the Phoenix Suns both Jason Richardson , Hedo Turkoglu and with Gilbert Arenas coming across from the Washington Wizards via trades and sending in the opposite direction Vince Carter (Suns) , Rashard Lewis and Mikael Pietrus (Wizards). Granted, Magic GM Otis Smith built this team in his own image with a view to winning an NBA title . But with a new resplendent venue in downtown Orlando, namely the Amway Arena …… ….. the kind of basketball being played there by this team was nothing that one could conclusively come away with and state that this was indeed an entertaining brand of basketball. Coach Stan Van Gundy always animated and vociferous seems to have trouble getting his players all on the same page and playing with any cohesive intensity and furthermore when it came to oncourt leadership there was simply no one that you could seriously point to and say that person has assumed the ,mantel as leader. This may well be Dwight Howard’s team but at times it begs the question is Howard really mature enough to lead from the front line and be vocal when necessary. To my mind the answer has been yes and no but if Howard really does want to be taken seriously not just as a player and one of the elite within this league then he has to show in all facets of his game and as a leader that he actually has what it takes . Simply playing the class clown doesn’t really impress anyone beyond the age of five years old Dwight so cut out the bulls_it and play the game and lead. As to what Arenas, Richardson and Turkoglu can add to this team remains to be seen but over the coming months we’ll be able to see for ourselves.
Now while I don’t purport to be a GM with a vast knowledge of the game when I first heard that Arenas had been traded to the Magic I simply thought that this was some misinformed individual reporting a errored piece. Well folks that doesn’t appear to be the case as the once gun toting ‘enfant- terrible’ now has a new home in Central Florida. I wonder how long before a card game with a teammate goes awry and Gilbert comes out with a semi automatic threatening to cap someone’s ass ? And less we forget also that the much maligned Richardson is no shrinking violet himself, as his problems with authority both on and off the field has been well chronicled. While I know that the Magic’s deficiencies on offense have been noted as Carter was no longer a prodigious scorer and Rashard Lewis had essentially become an overpaid power forward who was simply too afraid of his own shadow much less attacking the lanes and driving to the basket. His game had become one dimensional and simply all too reliant on that 17 ft perimeter jump shot . Well in essence that has essentially mapped out what the Magic’s game has been all about. Far too reliant on the three point jump shot and not enough creativity on or around the basket. Suffice to say it became their Achilles’ heel when it wasn’t working but when it did it made the team look like three point assassins.
Call me naive but when this season came into being there was the feeling that the Magic in conjunction with the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics would be the teams to beat within the Eastern Conference. And though I don’t doubt that all three teams will make the postseason I’m not so sure that with all the presumptive talk that the Magic and the Heat will be the finalists to battle it out for the conference title and be the Eastern Conference representative in the NBA Finals. Has anyone seen the Boston Celtics and how they have been playing as of late ? That team in spite of its aging veteran core have been playing like a group on a mission of self awareness , confidence and ready to kick some proverbial ass all over the NBA . Doc Rivers and his penchant for remaining understated has this team playing with resolve and they are keen to keep it all in tact.
The source of this all with regard to the Celtics is none other than their All Star point guard Rajon Rondo who keeps things ticking over at a somewhat blistering pace. Doubt my word then simply look at Rondo’s stats this season and what he’s been doing for this team ? And although as of late he’s had to miss a couple of games , in comes Nate Robinson to take over and it’s almost as if they haven’t skipped a beat. And when things are clicking on all cylinders like that for this Celtics’ team then it merely adds that additional fire in the belly’s of Ray Allen , Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce . Less we forget also that the team did sign in the offseason Shaquille O’Neal to this roster to provide some much needed veteran help and guile. Though he won’t be asked to do a great deal , sought as a replacement while Kendrick Perkins recuperates from preseason surgery, ‘Shaq’ knows that just the mere sniff another title to add to his cupboard will be enough to get him and ready for what might be his final shot at a fifth ring.
Picture gallery for your perusal .
OK so for the Heat and in particular the Magic this season will come down to who wants it more in terms of winning an NBA title and to what lengths are they prepared to go. This much is certain if neither team hits their stride in the true sense of the word and play with some consistency and win then there’s liable to be a great deal of bloodletting and arguments as to the reasons why they’re failing. Like I said when you’re winning life is good ……….. real good . And as of now both the Heat and Magic seem to have hit that proverbial bump where they’re now questioning themselves. What thoughts if any do you have on either team and their ambitions as you now see it ? Chime in with a comment.
Alan aka tophatal …………………………………………………. 😉
Eye candy ……………….. Shakur Sozadah
More of Shakur is certainly better than none at all ! Wishing you were here ?