It might seem silly and ungrateful that I whine about the Miami Heat when they have one of the better records in the NBA, but I truly believe that when you combine two of the top players who ever played the game in Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, the Heat should be competing for one of the top ten records in the history of the league.
Many argue that by putting all their eggs in a delicate basket the Heat could not afford to fill the rest of the roster with quality parts. But let’s compare the roster of the team with the greatest record of all time, the 1996 Chicago Bulls. They had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, but beyond that the only player who made an all-star team was Dennis Rodman. Rodman was an all- time great rebounder and defender but wouldn’t even consider taking a shot in a game. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat also have Chris Bosh who has a career stat line of 20 points and 9 rebounds accompanied by a roster filled with veterans with impressive resumes. The difference is the Chicago Bulls were managed by Phil Jackson, a coach who convinced role players to hustle and scratch and claw for every loose ball while the Heat are coached by Erik Spoelstra, a man whose level of competence lies somewhere between the captains of the Titanic and the Exxon Valdez. And this year’s Heat team has crashed into icebergs and polluted our precious Earth.
There are those that defend Spoelstra and blame the talent rather than the management. Some say Wade and LeBron are ball hogs and since you can only play with one ball at a time, this experiment was doomed to fail. These fools have not watched many Heat games this year. Wade and LeBron are two of the most gifted and creative passers to ever play the game. They don’t need many shots to get their points and seem to relish an impressive assist over raising their scoring average.
What has caused the Heat’s offense to fail at inopportune times is the lack of movement from both players and the ball. Much too often the offense consists of LeBron James dribbling the ball, a big man trying to set a screen, and the three other Heat players standing at the three point line waiting to jack up a long range shot. It is predictable and easy to stop.
When the Heat are running the fast break they have already made some of the most breathtaking plays in the history of the game. Wade tossed a perfect full court alley-oop pass to LeBron James that would be the envy of any football coach. Another time LeBron saved a ball from going out of bounds and threw the most precise pass over his head for an easy dunk by the center. But those plays rely on improvisation and instinct. It is at the end of the game when the defense is already set that the Heat struggle mightily. The creativity that is in the bones of the Heat’s great players is sorely lacking in the team’s playbook.
Over the all-star break when the league’s top players converged, some of the Celtics began running an entire series of plays from the Heat’s playbook. Miami’s half court offense was so predictable that other teams not only knew how to stop it they knew how to execute it better than Miami. Again the fault has to lie with the coach. Erik Spoelstra has had eight months to figure out how to make this work and continues to fail. This would be the equivalent of being the leader of the richest country in the world and not being able to figure out to distribute the wealth to your citizens.
I suppose with his boyish good looks once Spoelstra gets canned he could fit right into Congress.