After four beautiful years of making sweet love to Miami LeBron James left for his ex. He couldn’t even tell us to our face he was leaving, instead hiring some PR firm to write a letter about why he was leaving the Miami Heat to play basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I want to scream, “You have no future with Cleveland. The team’s owner and the city’s fans don’t really love you like we do. They called you all kinds of abusive names and didn’t appreciate you enough to surround you with complimentary talent. They won’t be as nurturing and supportive. We kept every promise to you. Selling out every home game and providing two championships.”
But like any jilted lover as LeBron James moves further and further away, we start to see all the flaws everyone warned us about. Sure, he’s the greatest basketball player who ever lived at the peak of his power, but he is awful narcissistic and a tad cowardly not to be upfront from the start that he was going to leave and he does tend to cramp up at the worst possible times…
But who are we kidding? We’re not ever going to do any better. He was way out of our league and might in fact be too big to be in a committed relationship with any one city.
So what does Miami do now? First we cry on the bathroom floor as we try to come to terms that the best thing that ever happened to us dribbled away, but it’s also time to appreciate what we do have. We still have Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem who while not as spectacular or gifted as LeBron, did show integrity and devotion to the team and its fans by offering to renegotiate their contracts in hopes of convincing LeBron to stay. Most importantly we still have Pat Riley.
A lot of people are blaming Riley for in his news conference a few weeks ago calling out LeBron and saying it would be cowardly to quit on the Heat after losing in the Finals. I thought it was a hell of a speech, but I’m a fan of theater and enjoy hearing motivational speeches from sport figures, LeBron it seems prefers authority figures to kowtow to him.
Times have been tough for Riley’s Heat teams before and he always reconfigured them for the better. In 2000 center Alonzo Mouring had to temporarily retire due to kidney issues, six years later the Heat were rebuilt to win their first championship (with the help of Alonzo Mourning with a transplanted kidney).
In 2008 Shaq quit on the team and the Heat’s record bottomed out at a league worst 15-67. Four years later they won the first of two more championships.
So how can we get there again?
It will take a few years of shifting players around, but I’m confident Riley can. As for now the Heat will have no pressure on them and should get 40-45 wins which in a weak Eastern conference could be enough to win their division and possibly get to the second round of the playoffs.
There is one direction that Pat Riley does seem to be heading the Heat towards. Two players he has already signed are Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts, both players have committed vicious flagrant fouls on LeBron in past playoffs. Wouldn’t the most Pat Riley thing Pat Riley could do be to sign all of LeBron’s enemies to join the Heat? Lance Stevenson, Nazr Mohammed and Paul Pierce are all free agents and would agree that if you can’t beat them, beat them up.