Miami Heat’s Big Three…Are They What We Thought They Were?
During a radio interview in Miami, Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if having Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade was all the Heat needed to win the NBA championship. Spoelstra said “no,” and rightfully so, because after all, that was just a ridiculous question in the first place.
However, there is something to be derived from the combination of that question and Spoelstra’s answer. Six months ago, nobody was talking about Miami Heat’s “supporting cast.” Nobody said that the Heat would unequivocally need Carlos Arroyo, Mike Miller and Joel Anthony to play championship-level basketball to win the NBA title in 2011. When this Miami Heat triumvirate was put together last July, everybody thought that as long as the Big Three were healthy and learned how to play together, they would carry the team to success. In opinion, that’s a fair notion. Yet with the Heat’s string of troubles at various points during this 2010-2011 NBA basketball season, many people, Coach Spoelstra included, have said that the Heat need their supporting cast to be a big part of the Heat’s playoff run. And to me, that’s a ridiculous notion.
Think back to the Chicago Bulls dynasty. Their first three championships came with the expertise of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and I suppose you can throw Horace Grant in there as their #3. Back then, nobody expected John Paxson to be the difference between the Bulls winning a championship and them flaming out in the playoffs. Sure, Jordan’s supporting cast couldn’t have been God awful, but never in a million years would anyone have faulted poor play by the supporting as the reason for the Bulls losing. The media would have said that Jordan and Pippen didn’t come through, and they would have criticized them non-stop, until the Bulls eventually won a championship.
Same thing with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal during the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty. Robert Horry and Derek Fisher were nice players, but if they had their worst stretch of the season during the playoffs, nobody would have said they are the reasons the Lakers failed to win championships. The media just would have blamed Shaq for missing one-too-many free throws and Kobe for taking one-too-many shots.
Now before you get all traditionalist on me, let me clarify what I’m saying. I’m not saying that we don’t ever take into consideration the supporting cast around a player. It’s well documented that the players around Kobe after Shaq left were not enough for him to win a championship. To take it to another sport, Dan Marino was not what kept the Miami Dolphins from winning Super Bowls. And Barry Bonds didn’t fail to win a World Series because of how he played either.
However, you have to be able to differentiate between not having a championship-caliber team and having a championship team that fails to execute. Right now, the Miami Heat has all the pieces it needs to win a championship. Those pieces are called LeBron, Wade and Bosh. As far as anything else goes, there only needs to be two other players on the court. Last time I checked, those two other players will always be professional basketball players; most often times first round NBA selections. So as long as they aren’t playing Ray-Ray from the hood, they have what they need to win a championship.
Thus, when Erik Spoelstra says that just having his big three healthy isn’t enough, while true, it does make me recognize where we are with this Miami Heat team. While yes, the other two players (and sometimes three) on the court can’t take the ball on offense and kick it into the stands, the supporting cast will never be the reason the Heat do not win. When the Big Three came up out of the floor during a welcoming pep rally, I didn’t see Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers behind them. When the Boston Celtics won the championship three years ago, I certainly don’t recall Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins being the reasons that the Celtics brought home the hardware. And when the history books are written, Derek Fisher and Trevor Ariza won’t go down as the reasons the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title in 2009.
So while Spoelstra’s answer to an over-the-top question was accurate; let’s be sure about one thing here: the successes and failures of the Miami Heat will be squarely on the shoulders of LeBron, Wade and Bosh. The fact that we are even discussing how vital it is that Mike Miller gets healthy, or what a loss losing Udonis Haslem for the season is, just goes to show you how short of expectations the Miami Heat have fallen so far this season. In a mere few months, we went from crowning them for the next 4 seasons, to saying that they need Mike Miller’s three-point shooting and Haslem’s interior presence. And if that’s the case, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh aren’t as good at winning basketball games as we thought they were, and we’ll find out this summer whether or not that is the case.
No related posts.