Congratulations on finishing in [2nd through 30th]. Heck of a season for you guys, really. I'm sure you'll get over the hump in the next few seasons. Really.
Since I know all of you franchises thinks you are thisclose to either winning it all, going deep into the playoffs, sneaking into the playoffs, going games at a time without on-court brawls over the basketball (Quit staring around the room, Knickerbockers, you know exactly who I'm talking to), I am a little concerned about your state of mind.
I am sure you all feel you are just one piece away from achieving your goals. Hell, look at Miami last year, right? They added Shaq to one superstar with a bunch of washed-up role players, and now their all wearing rings. Perfect, right? So let's try that!
And see, that is why I am worried. No team will ever duplicate what the Heat did this season. It just won't happen; the circumstances were so unique and bizarre, no one could possibly imitate it and be successful. So please, please don't try.
Miami's "blueprint" worked for a few reasons, not the least of which was the superstar that they added was Shaquille O'Neal. Yea, this isn't the svelte, dominating Daddy from yore, but it was still Shaq. Shaq is the most dominating force basketball has seen since 23 hung 'em up for the third time. He's not equatable with any other "superstar" thats allegedly on the market right now.
(Boston - if you think AI joining pierce is going to equate in a ring, you're freakin' nuts. It'll be fun as hell to watch, but there's no way on God's green earth - you like that pun, didn't you? - that Boston will be throwing a confetti parade with those two leading the way. And KG ain't the answer either. The Big Ticket couldn't punch a playoff ticket for two seasons. He's not leading a team to a title any time soon. Unless he goes to the Cavs. Yea, the Cavs.)
The fact that it was Shaq that the Heat added can't be overstated. IT WAS SHAQ. Who saved himself all season for a title run (and it actually worked, which might be the most surprising thing). It didn't work the year before. It isn't going to work next year. Miraculously, it worked this year.
Plus, a legendary coach who the players were all dying to play for came out of retirement midway through the season solely for this purpose. Oh, and, they happened to have maybe the most clutch, unstoppable, unselfish guard in the league who has the refs so infatuated with him that it is borderline unfair.
So, before you think of adding "that missing piece," ask yourself the following:
- Is the piece we are about to add the most dominating basketball force since Michael Jordan?
- Are we adding him to arguably the best off guard in the league, who also has no problem sharing the ball with him?
- Do we have a Hall of Fame coach that all can command all our veterans who are dying to win a championship?
Teams built like the Heat suck. Seriously. Teams intentionally put together with a small, minute window, who have to win now just suck. Where is the reward as a fan (or even as a team?) in winning that way? Watching a bunch of old guys with no chemistry tolerate each other for a season or two just to get a ring is not fun. The Heat - and the NBA - are lucky D Wade is about the most personable and likeable star in the league right now. With anyone else, anyone outside of Miami is rooting hard core for the Mavs to win. As it was, fans with no rooting interest were pretty much split on who they wanted to win.
Think what it must be like to be a Marlins fan. Yea, you got two rings, but you basically bought them, and then sold off the pieces like a Sion in a chop shop. Don't you think the Marlins fans feel a little empty with those rings? Whatever happened to a team working for years, drafting well, maybe picking up a solid contributor or two, battling through better, tougher opponents, in the playoffs and then finally, miraculously breaking through to win a title? Sure, the economics don't really allow for that anymore, to a certain extent, but I still think you can do it. Look at the Mavs this year. If they would have won, how satisfying would that title have been? To build yourself up from laughing stock to title contender...that just feels right, doesn't it?
I equate it to having a Picasso or a Rembrandt hanging in your living room. One catch - you had to steal it to get it. Sure, "buying" players isn't the same as stealing, but it kind of feels the same. Hey, maybe some people can still enjoy a stolen piece of art as much as if it had been purchased legally. I just couldn't. All I'm saying.
Plus, as hard as it was to cheer for the Heat, how much fun was it to watch them, speaking strictly aesthetically? Not very, save for D Wade in the open court. Their games were so predictable - either get the hell out of Wade's way, or throw it into Shaq and play off the double team's. Having two great guys and a bunch of others isn't fun to watch. Let's get 5 skilled guys out there - why do you think the West is so much fun to watch (And the East really isn't?).
Here's the deal: if the Heat repeat, you can build your team's any way you want. But if they lose -which they most certainly will - then you have to build real teams. Sound good? OK, handshake..sign here...lovely.
So there is my plea, NBA. Let the Heat be your answer to the NCAA's George Mason: a heck of a story, but ultimately a fluke that likely can't - shouldn't? - be repeated.