It can be obnoxious when you are impartial and ESPN is blasting it at you all day. It sounds impenetrably true when it is your squad facing an elimination game. It happens so quickly but it feels like forever.
That is what makes it fun.
I am rooting hard for these Miami Heat.
I am feeling all these losses, man. Feeling ‘em. That’s how I enjoy this league. Cold impartiality? Nah. That shit is for bitter people.
I am not a stranger to this feeling, though. My taste in fandom had me root for the underdog a lot of the time. When it wasn’t the Spurs, I rooted against Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing, Dirk and for Barkley, Hakeem, Payton, Kemp, Malone, Stockton, Hornacek, Reggie, Kidd, Iverson, Wade, KG, Pierce, Allen.
I've learned that hyperbole and narrative reduction are part of this game. Listening to the stories about Jordan in the 90s, you would think the dude averaged 82 wins a year, and swept every series. Truth is that there were some close calls to Detroit, Phoenix, Indiana and Utah.
But History is written by the victor. That is also part of this game.
Maybe having too much too soon really did fuck up LeBron's head some. He says all the right things and does some of the right things some of the time. I mean, he did (finally) become the all-around force that everyone wanted him to be in 2007, winning the MVP two times since. He took over playoff games against the NBA’s best defenses (Detroit, Boston). Then . . . he quit?
His mom smashed with Delonte or he lost the edge that drove him to do it alone, or he was led astray by his handlers.
He is still so fuggin’ good at this game that it is easy to miss that he occasionally drifts. That was the knock on his game in his early Cleveland days. Could it be that he is still trying to figure out how to win a playoff game with D-Wade? Not just how to beat the Clips in November but when you are on the biggest of the big stages? I know this isn’t the first series but it can be argued that this is the toughest.
The other playoff games were easier, with opponents that were overmatched and/or overwhelmed. Boston lost their heart and is old. Chicago only had Derrick Rose. These Mavericks are old veterans that are too desperate for a last-chance title to worry about getting blocked and/or dunked on.
It would suck if it is just bad luck that is killing him now. Like a slugger that hits a slump in the World Series or something. He looks a little hesitant shooting. Compare the fadeaway at the end of the third with the way he has been shooting in the last two. The difference? He made them then, he misses them now.
It would be easier to do like Bosh and just dismiss James’ Game Five as “Triple double. We just didn’t win the game.”
LBJ is not playing like Wade is playing. That is not to say that Dwyane is playing like a MJ (or how we think MJ would play if he were 26 and on this Heat squad). Nope. Wade has turned the ball over and missed free-throws in crucial situations. No one talks about how Wade tripped and LeBron saved a Dagger by blocking -- kinda looked like fouling-- Marion, keeping Miami in the game with a minute or so left tonight.
Hey. How about that fumble on the potential game tying three the other day? How about the free throw that kept it at three instead of two? Anyone?
Nah. All these writers are talking LeBron and giving Wade a pass because he looks like he is playing all-out. I’m one of them. Effort sins are forgivable sins. So says me.
The same passes are given to Dirk and for the same reason. Dude is playing great and looks to be playing about as well as he can. No one expects him to D anyone up (anymore) and late in games he is going to the rim (Game 5 -Dunk w 2:25, Game 4 - gamewinner, Game 2- gamewinner).
For all of James’ stats and productivity in his role as point-forward, he doesn’t look like he is leaving it all on the floor. That isn’t compared to just his potential, that is compared to 2007 LeBron. And, of course D-Wade and Dirk. I am a fan of his game except when his game looks like he is trying to play like 38-year old Jason Kidd instead of two-time MVP LeBron James.
***So what about those Mavericks? Well they are doing to the Heat what they did to LA: they aren’t giving up. They aren’t letting the bigger, stronger, more athletic team roll over them. They definitely aren’t as talented as Miami or LA--physically. They do have that old man game, that mental talent and experience to play damn near the perfect basketball required to make 15-point comebacks and hang around in games that other teams chalk up as losses. That stuff-- call it resilience, toughness, team-ball, togetherness or whatever--it was the straw eliminated LA and the thing that put the Mavericks on the precipice of their first title.
It’s that Rocky thing I wrote about after the last one.
However, I’ll say it again: Apollo won the fight.