Friday Lunch: To Contend is to be Content– Why the Heat Are Bad for Basketball

Posted: May 27, 2011 in basketball, nba, professional sports, sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


By Brent Pella


It’s been years since basketball was as exciting as it has been the past two months; Derrick Rose received a much-deserved MVP award and the Kings are staying in Sacramento.


Then the Lakers were swept, and the Bulls seemed to be charging toward an NBA championship appearance as if it were a red cape. All that stood in their way was a series against the Heat.


But then Miami remembered who was on its team.


The Heat have been hated, booed, criticized, and underrated all season. Yet as I write this article, just hours after the Eastern Conference Championship has been played, our perspective on the Heat is subject to dramatic change.

There can’t be any denying it now: this team has become what it set out to become. It has turned from most hated group of ‘wannabe’ champions, to most hated group of ‘gonnabe’ champions.


I heard plenty of people make their predictions after the LeBron-a-thon this past summer, and I admit to being one of them:


“The Heat are going to win the championship this season. There isn’t any team in the league that can stop them.”


It’s never felt so wrong to be right.


If the Heat win the championship twhis season, it would be the worst thing to happen to the NBA since Charles Barkley spit on a little girl.


It would demolish the ideals set in place by pioneers such as Magic, Bird, and Jordan: ideals that demanded a level of discipline, work ethic, and self-respect that created the backbone of what basketball is all about.

LeBron James, Chris Bosh and to an extent Dwyane Wade have all done away with this ideology, replacing instead with their insecurity and greed.


There is no doubt that all three of these players have a work ethic beyond the spectrum of the average person. We can’t accomplish half of the things these guys do on a daily basis. It’s also true that they each have the drive to win, why else would they have brought their talents together in South Beach and be en route to the Larry O’Brien trophy?


What they do not have is the sense of competition to achieve success without the aid of others.


Instead of going to Miami, why wouldn’t LeBron want to win championships as the main option on a team, and possibly lead a career where he could be considered the greatest there ever was?

Why would Dwyane Wade idly stand by and allow his Eastern Conference rival (James) to potentially take over the leadership role of his team?


As for Chris Bosh… he’s just happy to be winning.


LeBron, Bosh, and Wade should, as professional athletes, all have wanted to beat each other…not play with each other.


If you go to the gym, would you rather guard the best guy on the court to try and shut him down, or get him to be on your team? It’s a matter of the work one is willing to put in, and the level of drive that they have within themselves.


The Miami Heat have successfully undermined the fundamental qualities that shape this drive, and by doing so have unleashed a mentality onto young athletes that may very well change their perspective on what competitive spirit truly means.


For example:


If a young kid sees what Michael Jordan did, they’ll see that he was cut in high school, didn’t start in college, picked third behind Sam Bowie, was called too offensive, was criticized for dunking too much…but then he went on to win the scoring title and defensive player of the year in the same year, six rings, six finals MVPs and a much deserved G.O.A.T. title.

If you then put that same child in front of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals this year, they’ll have seen what’s happening out in Miami: three all-star, Olympic gold medal-winning players that have united as one unstoppable force in the NBA.


And just like that, their individual drive is killed.


If all it takes to win is finding a group of superstars and putting them on the same team, then why should they work so hard?


Why should they want to prove their own worth by becoming the best they can be, when instead they can remain content simply with winning?


What a horrible example for the athletes who have been taught that a work ethic and desire to rise above their competition is what they need to succeed.


Where’s the challenge? Where’s the sense of competition?


Where’s the “to be the best, you have to beat the best” mentality?


Obviously it’s not in Miami, and it’s looking like it won’t be dug up in South Beach anytime soon.

  1. Gil says:

    It could be argued that the Heat are great for basketball. They were a team of top players who showed a lot of greed and selfishness during the regular season. The team is comprised of guys whose understanding of the game was focused around having to be the top player at all occasions. Instead, a team was created where guys with individual talents who knew how to make their teammates better, had to be come players who used their individual talents to work with teammates who also were at their level. The Heat having come a long way to become a team who is learning game-by-game to be a team who focuses on a new understanding of teamwork with multiple elite players. While your argument is very valid, one thought could be for that a growing/aspiring basketball player may eventually join “forces” similar to the Heat at the collegiate level. Many players on teams like North Carolina, Kentucky or Texas are used to being the focal point of success. Upon being put on the collegiate level, they grow to learn to how to work together with players at their elite level. While the majority of players seek the individual drive you allude to, you have to acknowledge the players who come into situations similar to the Heat, and that absolutely is a challenge. The Heat did beat the best, they beat the top seeded Chicago Bulls, “beating the best” en route to possibly being the best.

  2. Brent says:

    Probably the best comment i’ve seen on The Sack Lunch. It’s true that people may be able to prove that a multitude of great stars can somehow put their egos aside in order to form a beautiful display of the world’s greatest game. But on a personal level, I feel that these guys should be ruthless in their endeavors to be the best, without leaving any questions as to whether or not they had the strength to lead a team. Because as of now, there is no team leader on the Miami Heat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a fact that i’d like to see flipped around.

    Maybe I just miss the days of MJ too much to see guys like LeBron and DWade forfeit their potential and some of their drive in order to contribute to a winning effort.

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