Friday, May 13, 2011

BDT -- The Miami Heat Confessions (May 13)

I can't believe we won the championship! Wait, the season hasn't even started yet? Oh well, let's celebrate anyways!

The time has come for me to break my BDT silence. Yes, my Celtics lost. To the Miami Heat. And Lebron James. In gut wrenching fashion. I’ve been avoiding any mention of it because, quite frankly, it’s much more painful than I imagined it would be. Here’s a little bit of insight for anyone who cares…I hate losing. I mean I really hate losing. Believe me when I tell you, I don’t deal with losing very well. I get angry, I yell at the TV, I throw things, and I flail my arms like a crazy person. In fact, that pretty much describes me, as a sports fan, pretty well. When the game comes on, I immediately turn into a crazy person; a veritable lunatic! And that’s before the losing happens! All in all, I think losing is the thing I hate most in the world (apart from maybe mayonnaise…totally different story there). Losing to Lebron James and the Heat, though, is a totally new level of awful. For me, it was the sports equivalent of being forced to eat a bologna and mayonnaise sandwich while repeatedly watching deleted scenes from Avatar…WHILE sitting in a pool of mud with a snake in my lap and a spider crawling on my face. So, yeah, it pretty much sucks.

Regardless, I don’t want to be “that guy” who makes lame excuses for his team and refuses to give credit when credit is due. So, congratulations Miami Heat. Congratulations Lebron James. Phony, worthless apologies aside, Lebron had a terrific series and made big shots when Miami needed them. Believe me, I’d rather be doing anything else other than giving props to Lebron, but I’ve made some very strong negative statements about Lebron and the Heat during the course of this season and I feel it’s important to own up to what you say; right or wrong. Most of the time I’m wrong, so owning up to stupid statements is nothing new. Still, it stings so much worse in this situation.

We can talk all day about Rondo being hurt, Perkins being missed, and Lebron hitting crazy low percentage shots, but that would be completely missing the point. Yes, Rondo was definitely affected after his gruesome (and way too often replayed) injury. Still, Boston had fourth quarter leads in Game 4 and Game 5, but failed to close the deal on either. Yes, Perkins would have been a much more important piece than Jeff Green. Still, Green played fairly well and our main issues stemmed from trouble on the offensive end; an area Perkins isn’t known for. Yes, Lebron hit several unreal shots in key moments that he normally would not make. Still, he hit the shots and credit must be given to him. Thus, you won’t hear any excuses from this Boston Celtics fan. I took every opportunity to tear into Miami this season and I was certain they couldn’t compete with Boston. I was wrong…Miami pulled together to play excellent defense and show a solid measure of toughness, Lebron and Wade figured out a way to co-exist, and Lebron made the key plays down the stretch while Boston faltered. It hurts worse than you can imagine, but it happened and I must sincerely congratulate Miami on their accomplishment. No, they haven’t won the title yet and I’m not trying to crown them. I’m simply owning up to my incorrect statements and saying congratulations.

That having been said…I hate you Miami Heat, I hate you Lebron James, I hate you Chris Bosh, and I hate you Dwyane Wade. I hate you, hate you, hate you, hate you. I hate you more than I hate Wade Phillips, Kobe Bryant, soccer, and outdoor camping combined! I HATE YOU! Just because I spent two paragraphs admitting wrongs and being gracious in defeat doesn’t mean I can’t still be bitter. Be assured that I am well beyond bitter. Prior to the beginning of the series, I wrote that Miami-Boston was more than just a typical series, that the stakes were higher than Chicago-Atlanta or even Dallas-LA. The series represented two contrasting styles and I strongly felt Miami stood for all that was wrong in basketball. You know what; I still feel that way, and that feeling contributes exponentially the frustration and anger I feel at losing the series. Just because Miami won does not mean I am suddenly going to turn to the dark side and embrace their team or their style. My basketball worldview revolves around the concept of team and hard work, and that’s a large part of why I so strongly identify with this current Celtics team. I have said it before and I will say it again; the creation of this Miami Heat team blatantly disregards the team concept and all that is good and right about winning basketball. My opinion stands despite their triumph; I hate what they stand for and I desperately hope they fail.
Over the course of the season, I have had several people ask why I feel the way I do. In particular, the question usually revolves around my extreme hatred for Lebron James. Let me be clear, Lebron is the chief recipient of my hatred…by far. I don’t feel quite as strongly about Bosh and Wade because their situations were difficult (though I deeply hate Wade now for his cheap shot on Rondo). Wade was already in Miami. He didn’t ditch a fan base or sacrifice his situation. In fact, there’s part of me that almost reveres Wade for successfully recruiting guys to come play with him. Fact is this is still Wade’s team; he’s still the man. Now, I have a larger hatred for Bosh because of the way he handled his situation in Toronto. He essentially held them hostage for two seasons and left them hanging out in the wind. In fact, there are several former teammates and Toronto executives who have accused Bosh of tanking it in his final season. Whether that is true, I have no idea. Regardless, I have a hard time respecting someone who shows no thought for his teammates or his organization. Still, I don’t blame him for wanting to team up with a true superstar. I’ve long held the opinion that Bosh is a second option and not a franchise player. Turns out, he might be a THIRD option! Bosh wasn’t winning anything unless he teamed up with a star, and he knew it. That leaves one guy to take the brunt of my hatred…
…Lebron James. The popular cry seems to be the claim that, “I don’t hate him for leaving Cleveland; I hate him for how he did it.” Perhaps the majority of people actually mean that and perhaps they don’t. Either way, I’ll be honest about my feelings; I hate him for both. Obviously his exit strategy was beyond reprehensible. ‘The Decision’ was one of the most self aggrandizing things I’ve ever seen and I believe it’s a direct view into Lebron James’ real life personality. Still, even if he had sent out a simple tweet announcing his signing with Miami, I would hate him the same.
Very rarely does a talent like Lebron James come along. I’ve been religiously following the NBA since 1994. My first vivid basketball memories are of Hakeem dominating Ewing in the Finals, Jordan’s comeback, Reggie Miller’s eight points in eleven seconds, and Charles Barkley being fat and shooting dumb threes. Other than Michael Jordan himself, I have not seen a better combination of physical gifts and basketball skills than that of Lebron James. I’m not saying he’s the best player ever; he’s far from it at this point. The thing is, he could be…and that’s part of why I hate him. The joy of watching basketball back then was seeing Jordan and his team face off against Hakeem and his team or seeing Barkley and his team face off against David Robinson and his team. Get the picture? There’s a lot to be said for a superstar taking his leadership role and elevating his team. The greats, like Jordan, Magic, and Bird all embraced this role and earned their success. Heck, even lesser stars such as Reggie Miller and Dominique Wilkins did it!
When Lebron first entered the league in 2003, there was widespread hope that he would be the next Michael Jordan or the next Magic Johnson. As I’ve said before, sports fans crave greatness, and Lebron James was sure to deliver it to us. Like many before him, he experienced struggles along the way and success did not come as easily as he might have expected. And then ‘The Decision’ happened…
I don’t hate him for failing to deliver greatness, and I don’t hate him for leaving Cleveland. Sure, I would have preferred him to stay in Cleveland since I’m an old man who hates change, but that honestly has very little to do with how I feel. I hate Lebron James because when he was finally faced with struggles and setbacks, he decided to pack it in and quit. In doing so, he willingly gave up his legacy and robbed us of our opportunity to witness greatness. You may disagree with me, and that’s fine, but there’s a big difference in winning a championship as the leader of your team and subjugating your game to win with an “All-Star” team. Lebron James is no longer “The Man” and that is a fact…for that, I am angry. Call me idealistic if you will, but I feel that the fun in winning comes from the sense of accomplishment you feel when you’ve reached your goal. That sense of accomplishment comes from hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Instead of striving to achieve those things, Lebron opted to take a shortcut. It’s like compiling an All-Star team on NBA 2k11 and then winning all your games by 30 points. Where’s the fun in that? In the same way, I don’t see how a Heat championship can possibly give Lebron the type of satisfaction he would have gotten with a Cavs (or even Knicks) championship. Want proof? They already held their championship ceremony before the season started!
So there you have it; Lebron James could have been the best player alive if he really wanted it. He couldn’t deliver greatness in Cleveland, so he quit and took the shortcut route. Instead of driving his own car, he opted to hand the keys to someone else and hop in the passenger’s seat. That’s why I hate Miami. That’s why I believe they stand for all that is wrong with basketball. The team is a giant shortcut. Lebron James; you are a quitter, you are a disgrace to basketball, you will never be a true ‘great,’ and you will never receive credit for any success Miami achieves.
So, yeah…congratulations Miami. Thank you for ruining basketball for the next six years.

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