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Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End
For all of the talent on Miami’s roster, there seems to be one key element lacking that all championship caliber teams have possessed, especially those with the hardware to prove their basketball mettle: maturity. Other than LeBron, is there anybody in the NBA with a more maddening combination of skill and self-congradulatory hubris? It has been said that ‘pride goeth before the fall’. Miami’s post season success and eventual decline is a clear illustration of snobbery indeed going before the proverbial stumble.
It all started with the overblown pageantry that was the introduction of Miami’s ‘Other Three’ (Thanks to Mike Gorman of Celtic’s play-by-play fame for that moniker) to the rest of the basketball universe. Upon a strobe-lit, smoking stage in American Airlines Arena in Miami stood LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, whooping and gesticulaing wildly while bass heavy music pulsated all around them, as if they had just won the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy itself. The two new acquisitions and the superstar mainstay crouched to audience-member-level and ran up and down the stage’s promontory high-fiving the outstretched hands of a frenzied crowd, all three smiling and no doubt feeling great about all of the attention and confetti being rained earthward upon them.
This smoke-show came well after Jame’s much lambasted “Decision”, a 75 minute exposition on unchecked arrogance that everybody should have expected from the famously vainglorious James, who brought not just his considerable talents, but horrible attitude to South Beach. Predicting prematurely that the newly helmed Miami heat would win ‘not one, not two, not three, not four’ titles seemed a tad presumptous at the time, but now, with Dallas hoisting the trophy skyward surrounded by quickly emptying seats at the other American Airlines Arena, that proclimation seems outright ridiculous.
Post-game, during the well-earned Dallas victory celebration, key members of the Heat’s starting five could be seen walking through the exits and into their locker room, the gloom and defeat hanging over their heads so palpable one would expect to see storm clouds pouring black rain upon the broad beaten shoulders of Miami’s Other Three. Chris Bosh could be seen openly weeping, a pitiful sight for any man, never mind one pushing seven feet and 240 lbs, while his teammates attempted to block the display of raw emotion by positioning their bodies in front of the camera. Perhaps Bosh had reason for the sudden outpouring of emotion. This, after all, was Chris’s first trip to the Finals after languishing for years in the cold unforgiving suburbs of Toronto, where he was on a statistical treadmill: putting up great numbers but while doing so achieving nothing. A couple of trips to the the playoffs and subsequent early exits aside, his tenure in the great white north was not a successful bid. Quite believeably, though, throughout the unmitigated bombast of the much-villified Heat’s up and down season, Bosh was able to remain the most humble of the new acquisitions. Clearly he was elated to join such illustrious basketball talent as James and Wade, but was mellow enough to escape entrapment within the pompous web LeBron had singlehandedly spun. Of the Other Three, Bosh was the one player not effected by Jame’s immaturity, whether it be on of off the court. Wade, on the other hand, has not been so lucky.
Playing alongside LeBron James for 90 or so games can definitely bring about some unwanted psychological changes in the way one precieves the game of basketball. It is clear that Wade’s game has suffered the most after hopping aboard LeBron’s self-important locomotive as it continues to barrel full speed ahread into the uncharted (for James, at least) municipality of I-Told-You-So. With LebBron attempting to dominate the last few minutes of a close game that’s to be decided by 5 points of less, otherwise known as crunch time, Wade’s abilities as a closer continue to gather rust. Once possessing supreme basketball acumen in clutch situations, Wade finds himself repeatedly defering to James in situations where he alone should have the ball. Jame’s size and speed allows him to do whatever it is that pleases him when the ball is his, as does a defender’s unwillingess to get in his way. He could open up several successful travel agencies with all of the steps he takes on the way to the basket. He should be the proprietor of multiple awards for best actor in a television drama series with all of the incredulous looks he shoots at referees after what he believes is a questionable call. Wade seems to be absorbing this infantile behavior, because he too is now asking for the foul on every drive, focusing on running his mouth at a ref instead of running back and playing the ruthless defense for which he’s been known. Wade possesed (and maybe, just maybe, still does) a dagger midrange jumper and superhuman lateral quickness, two attributes he has currenly given up on using by passing the ball to someone who dreams of one day acquiring a skill set like Wade’s. Wade has proven to be a reliable first option during nailbiters, and was almost certainly the exclusive go-to guy when his singular brilliance was needed pre-LeBron.
One might recall a Finals series in 2006 when Wade did his best Michael Jordan impression, dominating non-stop on both ends of the floor for three games to win the title, utilizing everything in his arsenal to overtake a good Mavericks team. It is clear that Wade has the better offensive skill set, yet repeatedly gives up great open looks or opportunities to exploit a weak defender and drive to the basket to draw a foul so LeBron can display a horrendous line-drive midrange jumper that is more Randy Johnson than Michael Jordan. During the 2011 Finals James morphed into a 6′-8” 250 pound point guard, shedding his aggresive exoskeleton, opting to pass first and ask questions later instead of lowering his shoulder like a linebacker and using his body as a human battering ram to bludgeon opponents on his way to an easy foul. This should be alarming to Heat fans but no surprise to outside observers of the game. James is aware of his inability to close a game, almost too aware, and what is precieved and praised as unerring unselfishness to everybody else is actually Jame’s way of slyly covering up the fact that he cannot, for the life of him, drive the final nail into the coffin. Adopting a pass first mentality, in LeBron’s case, is a testament to his monumental failure as a model for humility. In any other case (see Magic Johnson, John Stockton, or Isiah Thomas) deciding to make the pass first rather than take the shot would be seen as an admirable quality in a player. In LeBron’s case, it allows him to escape the media’s ire. If LeBron makes a great pass on a game winning play, the praise is never heaped upon the individual lucky enough to make the shot, but instead given to ‘Bron himself, more than happy to lap up the accolades. If the great pass is made and the shot doesn’t fall, it isn’t James’ questionable desicion-making being scrutinized, but the shooter’s inability to make the shot. The Finals-watching nation has seen this happen on more than one occasion during muliple games, and sometimes, during the same game.
The Heat hoped to follow in the Celtic’s footsteps by copying their blueprint for a championship schematic-by-schematic. It worked for the Celtics thanks to instant and sustainable chemistry that saw all three players shed both ego and elements of their respective games to conglomerate into a basketball juggernaut. The Heat’s insta-team failed because ego-shedding and game re-shaping has not happened yet. Perhaps it will, in time, but until someone sticks a hat pin into the hot-air baloon that is LeBron’s gargantuan ego, the team will continue to suffer, as will Miami’s hope of winning a title.
Dan Marcin is a basketball columnist for Obscure Athletes
I’m sure I speak for the majority of NBA fans when I profess my underwhelmed surprise at Kevin McHale being selected as
the new coach of the Houston Rockets. As good a player as McHale was during his playing days with the Boston Celtics, he doesn’t exactly bring an Auerbach-like coaching resume to an already mediocre team. By signing a three year deal, he dooms this Rockets franchise and its once passionate fanbase (prone to such creative proclivities as rewording a billboard ‘Akeem, I saw, I conquered’ during the 1986 finals) to about a thousand days of stunningly mediocre basketball.
In his Celtics days, McHale had a definite player profile. He was your prototypical finesse power forward, electing to use sly post moves to out manuever an opponent and drop the ball in the bucket with a nifty up an under while the defender went looking for his PF Flyers, rather than relying on raw aggression and athleticism to overpower and punish an opponent above the rim. His coaching profile, however, was decidedly undefined. He coached the Minnesota Timberwolves on two separate occasions, coaching a total of 94 games and missing the playoffs both times. During the 2004-2005 NBA season he replaced Flip Saunders ( who had gone 25-26 when McHale superseded him) and, orchestrating the last 31 games, amassed a 19-12 record, during which he found himself in the middle of a five game winning streak that was Windexed by a 107-98 Pheonix Suns victory on April 1st, 2005.
His second stint was, by all accounts, as exhaustively underwhelming as his fist. With the 2008-2009 season already underway, McHale was brought in again to breath some life into the stagnant Timberwolves, who, under then coach Randy Whittman had started out a putrid 4-15. Coach McHale took proverbial clipboard in hand and thundered to a resoundingly awful 20-43 record, helping the hapless ‘Wolves rank near last in the ratings both offensively (24th) and defensively (25th). Did the Rockets’ basketball executives even manage a glimpse at one of many easily accessible websites that contain this information to review his coaching record? What about this dreadful resume screams, “Hire me!”? Does the Houston staff expect Coach McHale to be the architect of a miraculous turnaround in fortune for the Rockets? I’m going to throw a guess out there and assume that the answer to all three of these questions is a resounding ‘no’. It looks like three years of Kevin McHale-helmed Houston Rockets will be more Challenger than Skylab 2.
In about 15 minutes, an announcement is going to be made that the Atlanta Thrashers will be sold off, and moved to
Winnepeg. Here are some things to consider about this now-imminent move:
-Atlanta might be the worst sports city in North America. They’re the only city in the history of the continent to have a major sporting franchise leave their city in favor of greener pastures…in Canada. Except now it’s happening for the second time. The first was the loss of the Flames to Calgary in 1980. Whose idea was it to give those schmucks in Atlanta another chance at an NHL franchise?
-A team that plays in a league that, by all recent accounts, is more popular than the NBA, is moving. So I went to CBS Sportsline, SI, and the Worldwide Leader, to see what appears on their headlines this morning. Not a single headline mentions the sale and/or relocation of the Thrashers. Some headlines that DO appear on these sites:
So Thrashers Fan(s), please take a moment, or even 15 minutes if you want, to reflect on the years of complete futility and overall embarrassment that your franchise has brought to the NHL, and the complete waste of time, money, energy, natural resources, and space, that your team has represented over the past 13 years, and take a deep breath knowing that it’s all gonna end in mere minutes. And one of the worst markets in sports history–Atlanta, will only be burdened with three bottom-feeding franchises.
Remember when Kobe called a referee a “fucking faggot?” And the ridiculous backlash that followed? ESPN created that story out of thin air because they COULDN’T WAIT to demonize Kobe Bryant. They questioned his sensitivity toward the gay community and effectively forced an apology from him. Lest we not forget, the Kobe incident occurred ON THE FUCKING COURT of an NBA basketball game. If you think that was the worst thing that was said on the court that night, you’re nuts. Yet there was the worldwide leader, once again creating news and coercing Bryant into making a public apology.
Notice anything about the media response to this story? Like how nonexistent it was? The Lebron incident is quite obviously the more egregious of the two–this occurred during a press conference… ya know, where everything you say is INTENDED to be heard by the media–that’s what a press conference is. Not some kneejerk reaction on the sidelines of an NBA game during the heat of the moment. It was in a press conference, in which your words are made for public consumption, he called the reporter asking the question retarded. And yet, crickets out of Bristol.
Could this be because ESPN would rather draw negative attention to a guy like Kobe, whom they’ve already changed the image of multiple times, because over the course of a lengthy career with a tremendous record of leadership and winning, they’ve essentially run out of ways to sell him to us? And that the latest season surrounding the drama of the big three in Miami, is FAR, FAR more marketable than Kobe ever even dreamed of being? ESPN couldn’t wait to make an insensitive bastard out of Kobe, while their silence on this latest Lebron mishap, given the influence the network has in the sporting world, constitutes an active cover-up of the incident. It’s quite simple: If ESPN can make a huge deal out of Kobe calling a referee a faggot, then they wield the same power to make it so the more profitable Lebron James, calling a reporter retarded, essentially never happened. Bunch of fucking faggots over at the Worldwide Leader.
I woke up around 8:50 this morning, and I seemed to have lost the remote. The channel was 35 (ESPN2) when I went to bed, and the sporting gods did have a hearty laugh at my expense, because like everyday Monday through Friday between 6-10AM, Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio was being simulcast on The Deuce. My hatred of Mike and Mike is well-documented, so rather than go on a rant about why I hate them so much, I’ve taken the time to make a short list of things that rank SLIGHTLY higher on my to-watch list.
Whatever crap is on the Golf Channel
That show Pat Robertson has
Yes, Dear reruns
Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS
Brad Childress must have hit up Brett Favre for tickets to last night’s Vikings game. And why wouldn’t he? It was Minnesota football history being made at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. Wouldn’t wanna miss that, would ya Brad? The Vikings, in case you missed it, turned in a Vikings-like performance, getting blown out by the Bears at home, and losing Favre for, once again, an indeterminable amount of time.
So I’ve been thinking…
What were Knicks fans doing last night booing Lebron James and Chris Bosh? And chanting ‘overrated?’ Knicks fans,
don’t you understand? Lebron was NEVER going to New York. And just because ESPN and the New York Daily News spent two years selling you on the idea that he might take his talents to the MSG, doesn’t mean it was ever going to happen. They just plain made it up. So fuck you. I bet you were feeling pretty good when the Knicks were up 51-50, eh?
I’m here today to call everyone in the Obscure Athletes-reading community
together. We must unite to make the sporting community, and our society as a whole, a better place, and to me the obvious place to start is at the epicenter of mediocre, rehashed, thoughtless garbage: the Mike and Mike Morning Show, broadcast every morning on ESPN Radio and simulcast as part of the “What the fuck else are we gonna show?” morning block on ESPN2.
Thanks, Worldwide Leader, for giving us something we’ve never, ever seen before in a morning program: The duo featuring the fat, marginally talented former player whose “Down-home” personality and overt lack of sophistication make him the perfect anti-intellectual counterpart to the uptight, straight-laced, salmon-eating douchebag whose agoraphobic tendencies and overall twitchiness ensured that he never got laid in his younger days. Yeah, I’ve never seen that before, save perhaps for not only every morning sports show, but every movie Chris Farley and David Spade have ever been in.
Mike and Mike are the sports version of Two and a Half Men– recycled, contrived drivel, that uses every shitty old trick in the comedy book, garnering a giant audience and cheap laughter at every turn. Do the sports world a favor, and don’t watch Mike and Mike in the Morning. Not only that, tell your friends to make sure they never see or listen to it. In fact, I go on a personal media blackout from 6-10 every morning just to make sure I don’t accidentally stumble upon it while surfing the channels.
Join the cause, and spread the word. The betterment of western society is at stake here. The more people who don’t watch that garbage, the more the Worldwide Leader will have to consider using that four hours of daily airtime differently. At the very least, it’ll allow them to talk about Brett Favre some more.
After hearing the news that Cliff Lee was headed to Philadelphia, I was as surprised as anyone. In hindsight, should
anyone really be surprised? For the majority of this off-season, who was of higher priority to the Yankees: Derek Jeter or Cliff Lee? I adamantly believe that the distraction Jeter created has played a role in Lee getting away to Philly. I mean, you’ve been targeting this guy for a couple of years now. You reportedly offered him 6 years for $138 MM with a vesting option for 16 MM. How the FUCK do you let him get away? This is the offseason from hell for Brian Cashman and the Yankees. What’s their next step, snagging the human time bomb that is KC’s Zach Greinke? This is going to be hilarious.
PS: Here are some FA’s that the Yankees may now have to settle for now that Lee isn’t walking through that door, fans: Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Duchscherer, Jeff Francis, Freddy Garcia, Rich Harden, Rodrigo Lopez, Kevin Millwood, Brian Moehler, Brandon Webb, Nate Robinson, Jeff Suppan and… Carl Pavano.
By now, I bet you’ve been wondering what happened to Mr. Boss’ contributions to Obscure Athletes. In fact, given that most of our readers are fairly new, I would guess most have no idea who I’m talking about. In fact, Michael J. Boss is the cofounder of Obscure Athletes. He was last seen in late June. I’m here to let everyone know, that Mr. Boss is indeed alive and well after being in a terrible accident that caused him to be secluded in a cave since then. During that time he has, in addition to growing a terrific beard, developed the format for his new couple-times-a-week segment here on Obscure Athletes.
Just like the Hess Truck, Mr. Boss is back and better than ever.