Ah, that video is great to re-watch, isn’t it? I particularly love the part where LeBron James goes… “The way we’re going to challenge each other to get better in practice, when the games start… I mean, it’s going to be easy.” Easy. That is the word that sticks in my dome to this day about that championship parade sham. James, Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh were convinced that taking over the league and winning “not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7…” championships was going to be a joy ride compared to the plot and scheme of actually coming together in Miami.
It’s been nearly two years since Wade & James came together, and they are as individual as ever. The prevailing thought last season was that was the time to beat the Heat before they start rattling off titles like Michael & Scottie did in ’91. But besides losing 8 of their last 9 road games to teams with winning records this season (going into Sunday’s potential 1st round series with the Knicks), the Heat’s dynamic duo has yet to mesh like most NBA observers figured would be a mere formality. Would you rather have James & Wade, or Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook right now? The latter has formed into the game’s best duo in this abbreviated season. This, mind you, after there were questions about how the two could coexist after Russ morphed into Stephon Marbury last spring.
By no means am I discarding the Heat’s chances at a title– it’s just laughable to compare Wade & James to Michael & Scottie. Oh yeah, I’ve seen that talked about, and it’s as insulting and entertaining as Coach “Spo’s” rotations. Yes, that question was raised on some bullshit ESPN show, but the question should be, can these two deliver one championship?
When you’re nearly two full years into this, and there are still questions, something is wrong here. Granted, Wade & James remain two of the best individual talents in the game. Wade’s 10 point run down the stretch of the 4th quarter vs the Bulls is testament to that. And we’ve seen Lebron go to Cavs Bron whenever Wade is out of the lineup. However, these two guys have yet to find that championship balance and cohesion that made MJ & Pip so special.
Michael sacrificed his game to allow Pippen to develop into a sensational point forward. Jordan could have easily played the ball dominator role like he did in ’89 when he was ripping off triple doubles with ease ( MJ had 10 triple doubles in 11 games that season, including 7 straight. He finished the season with 15 triple doubles and averages of 32.5 ppg, 8 boards, 8 dimes & 53.8% shooting from the floor).
It could have been “easy” for Jordan to use a power play and say “Fuck you, Doug. I’m not changing my role, I’m the best player in the world.” But he didn’t because he was/is consumed by winning. He adapted his game that season, and in future years (as Pip developed into a top 5 player) because rings mattered more than “swag.” Jordan didn’t have to take to Phil Jackson’s triangle offense in ’90, but he knew he couldn’t win titles by scoring 35 a night. Other players had to be able to exist on their own, and Jordan was cognizant of that.
What have Wade and James done to become a quality half court offensive team? When Wade has it going, LeBron happily sprints to the corner as Wade goes 1 on everybody. When James has it going, he waves everyone off, backs up, shoots a deep jumper (he’s nasty at those, but still), or creates contact by throwing his 280 pound body into a defender. How is James not living in the post? Nobody would be able to guard him if he consistently diversified their offense. And don’t forget how he willingly shrinks into a role player the last 6-8 minutes of games. That would be fine if, ya know, he wasn’t the most dominant physical specimen in the game.
As for Wade, how has he not developed a consistent 3-point shot yet? His body isn’t able to absorb the contact that he did early in his carer (remember fall down 7 times, get up 8?), but he is shooting an embarrassing 27.8% from distance this year. Derrick Rose improved his long range game in one summer, and the biggest whiner in the association can’t develop one in 9 years?! That’s a joke. How do you not run a two man game with these two when you’re not trying to get Bosh going?
The Bulls and Celtics don’t fear this team because they are still a get out run west coast team. When they have that going and make ridiculous jumpers like they did to close out the Bulls in game 5 last year, they’re lethal. But a team with two top 5 players on the planet shouldn’t be so atrocious in the half court two years in. That’s almost as embarrassing as “Bosh’s Pit” pulling down 7.7 rebounds per game. You can’t grab 8 boards a night at 6’11, Chris? I guess Bosh’s Pit is where one goes to avoid the painted area.
Instead of sacrificing their games to become an unstoppable duo, Wade & James still exhibit an uncomfortable chemistry. In a league with bum teams, the Heat are only 14-10 since the all-star break, with a point differential of +2.9. But all is well because they are convinced they can turn it on come playoff time. That might prove to be true, but they are more vulnerable than ever. And even though the Bulls or Celtics won’t say it, the Heat don’t elicit the fear they did in February. This falls on the duo that some basketball imbeciles think is on Michael & Scottie’s level. Think about this, would 23 & 33 ever be so abysmal on the road vs winning teams? I thought this was going to be easy? Swag on, boys.