The Triumph of the Miami Heat
NBA Finals…Game 7….’Legacy’ definer….Everything on the line….The game where you need your superstars to step up. For the Miami Heat that is exactly what they got. LeBron James scored 37 points (tied for most points in an NBA Finals Game 7 win) 12 rebounds and effectively shut down Tony Parker and the Heat won their second straight NBA championship in 95-88 thriller.
So whatever little doubt we had about LeBron’s play in big games has to be erased… King James played like well….A king. It might have been the most complete game he played in his entire career. Early in the game he got his teammates going. Dwyane Wade got off to another fast start (he ended up with 23 points and 10 rebounds), then Mario Chalmers got some open shots, and then for the first time in the entire series LeBron started hitting his jumpshots. To say that he had struggled against the Spurs defense would be an understatement. The Spurs had been going under all of his pick and rolls, sagging off him on the perimeter, and basically doing anything in an effort to force him to shoot jumpers. Unfortunately for the Spurs, LeBron used Game 7 as the time to find his shot.
With 2 titles, 2 Finals MVPs and 4 regular season MVPs, LeBron James is now one of the top 10 greatest players to ever play basketball. Think about that….. He has finally reached that place where we all wanted him to be and the best thing about it is……He knows he’s the best. Just check out this pose he struck when he received the Finals MVP trophy from Bill Russell and going on to declare “I ain’t got no worries.” Immediately following the game the questions posed didn’t change at all. “Can he be better than Jordan?”……. I understand that in the NBA (probably more than any other major american sport) the comparison between past and present players and teams is always going to happen and is sometimes necessary. It’s why everyone made a big deal when Kobe said that the 2012 US Olympic team could beat the Dream Team, and why since MJ stepped away from the game after winning his 6th title we have scoured the heavens and the earth looking for someone to replace him. Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant….. All have had their time in the spotlight because they had comparable games to His Airness. Kobe his competitiveness, Vince Carter his dunking ability, T-Mac his scoring prowess, Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse his grace. But from the beginning LeBron was always different. He seemed more interested in getting his teammates involved than scoring for himself. He wasn’t the hyper-competitive freak that Jordan and Kobe are. He always just seemed like a big kid having the time of his life. Which is why the comparisons between LeBron and ANYONE else need to stop right now. Because i’m afraid to say it to all the people out there who see Jordan as god of all things basketball, but 20 years from now the kids are going to want to be like LeBron.
The Robin to LeBron’s Batman, Dwyane Wade picked up his 3rd ring. He is now one of the top 5 greatest shooting guards ever and despite looking washed up and near death throughout the entire playoffs but when it mattered he came up big. As I mentioned earlier, 23 huge points and he was attacking AND like LeBron, he finally found his midrange game. He pretty much spent the entire 2nd quarter destroying his defender by nailing the 12-15 footer with regularity. In the past few months Wade has seen his public perception fall among NBA fans. Before this year he was beloved, good guy, great father, great player. A knee injury, a flying elbow, and an overall terrible NBA playoffs later, he was washed up and finished. But this is what separates the great players from everyone else. When they’re needed they step up to the plate.
But other than its two stars the Miami Heat as a group truly earned this championship. Shane Battier who was probably wondering if he was going to play at all in these playoffs during some stretches put in an all time great performance in Game 7 scoring 18 points on 6 3-pointers. Ray Allen arguably hit the biggest shot of his career to save the Heat in Game 6, Birdman Birdman!! Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole each showed that they weren’t afraid of the moment. Last but not least we have Chris Bosh…..Bosh is really the outcast of this team. He doesn’t have the personality of James or Wade and you’re probably more likely to find him reading a book than blasting music before a game. He is the expendable part of the Big 3…The weakest link you could say even. And yet…Something has to be said for a guy who so willingly sacrificed so much in order to win a championship. Coming from Toronto, Bosh was the GUY. Unlike LeBron and Wade, Bosh (being the best post player on the team when he signed in Miami) loss touches. In his final year with the Raptors he took 16 shots a game and scored 24 points. This last regular season he took 12 shots a game (in the playoffs he only took 10 shots a game). Despite his lack of involvement offensively, Bosh brought it on defense. He had two key blocks in the overtime in Game 6 to seal the win, and he was great in guarding Tim Duncan down the stretch in Game 7.
The Miami Heat going forward is a big question. The looming summer of 2014 where all three Heat stars will once again be free agents has to be on every Heat fans mind and for all the greatness and grit they showed in the playoffs, this Heat team isn’t as unbeatable as we all thought back in March. Derrick Rose will be back in Chicago, Paul George and the young Pacers are going to and Wade, Ray Allen and the other Heat veterans are going to get older. …But for right now…I think LeBron said it best…They ain’t got no worries.