Last season I picked the Miami Heat to win 70 games and the championship, I got half of my prediction correct. The Heat did win 72 games last year (we won’t mention that 14 of those victories were in the playoffs), but came two agonizing losses in the Finals from taking home the winner’s trophy. I was so certain that with the Miami Heat’s stacked roster they would win the NBA title last year that I am left wondering whether I still have the credentials to make a prediction for the coming season. But here we go anyway. The Miami Heat will win this year’s NBA championship.
How can I say this when the Dallas Mavericks, last year’s NBA champion, arguably got better by replacing their center, Tyson Chandler, for the more versatile Lamar Odom and the only additions to the Heat roster are veteran defensive stopper Shane Battier, rookie point guard Norris Cole, and the morbidly obese center Eddy Curry?
Because LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are the two best basketball players on the planet.
Because Chris Bosh is one of the fifteen best basketball players on this same planet.
Because last year the Miami Heat would have swept the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals if not for surrendering fourth quarter leads of fifteen and nine points in games 2 and 4. The Miami Heat were clearly better, but still got their butts kicked.
Most of the civilized world placed the blame at Heat forward LeBron James who played as though he placed a lot of money on the Mavericks. The usually confident James suddenly wanted no part in the game, passing the ball like it was a naked picture of Dick Cheney to scrubs like Juwan Howard and Mario Chalmers instead of remembering you can’t score if you don’t shoot.
LeBron’s accurate shooting was what got the Heat to the Finals when teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh struggled, but suddenly James seemed unsure of himself and for that he deserves blame, but much more criticism should be shovelled on Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. I have long called Spoelstra a crumbum who must have incriminating video of Heat owner Mickey Arison to have kept his job for this long.
Spoelstra almost sucked me in to his fan club when his team played loose and executed to their potential during the playoffs winning eighty percent of their games on the way to the Finals. Perhaps Spoelstra really did know what he was doing and was making strange substitutions that cost the Heat games in the regular season to experiment with what match-ups might work in the post-season? But then came the clueless collapse that is an all too common feature of a Spoelstra coached team.
Instead of getting in James’ face during a time out and demanding him to take the ball to the hoop Spoelstra forgot to devise a winning game plan. There is a reason in the last 25 years only 8 coaches have led a team to a championship, it takes a particular skill set to lead twelve separate primadonnas toward one collective goal. It is a skill set that Heat President Pat Riley possesses. His charisma would get the Heat players to play their best. In this 66 game lockout shortened season an elderly Riley should have the energy to push the talented team he assembled toward glory. If Riley won’t do it may I suggest the recently retired Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy to replace the overmatched Spoelstra? And if they turn down the job how about hiring Dolly Parton, Andrew Dice Clay, Ringo Starr or any of the six billion other people who inhabit this planet who have the skill set to figure out how to roll a ball on the court and get the most talented roster in the history of the NBA to win a championship.