Thursday, July 15, 2010

Agreed to Terms

Just moments after The Decision, I received this text message from Spike - "mild hate and pure envy". I am only assuming it was a reference to me about LeBron taking his talents to South Beach and my beloved Heat, though he could have been referring to this fascinating project. (we'll get to that in the next couple days) I needed a little more time to sort through my feelings about the Heat's off-season transactions. I've been through a lot in 15+ years as a Heat fan; a kidney transplant, a Championship, a 25 win season, taking a chance on a kid from Marquette, learning to tolerate Shaq, all of sport-dom discounting the 2006 title because the Heat were somehow the only team in history to get a bogus call or two, a 16 win season, the New York Knicks (4 straight playoff eliminations, 3 in the first round even as the higher seed), Jermaine O'Heal, the Mike Beasley Experience, Clarence Weatherspoon, PJ Brown and Charlie Ward, Allan Houston, both Van Gundy's (one around Zo's leg) and Riles. I'm not saying I have been a tortured fan (though somewhere in the spring of 2003 I was beginning to wonder) but there have been some highs and lows to say the least.

Let me first address my feeling about the backlash of doubt and negativity.

Spike's sentiments could be easily applied to the majority of America's feelings about the Decision, but the problem is nobody will admit to it. The NBA has needed a bad guy since Kobe started winning again, so it seems that everyone is doing their best to make LeBron the league's foil. Had he gone to Chicago would there have been this backlash? New York? New Jersey? the reasoning for deciding on anyone of those destinations is about as reasonable as going to Miami to play with Wade and Bosh.(side note: everyone is saying Bosh is the lucky one in this off-season, raising his stock far beyond its worth. I say its Joakim Noah. He was labeled numerous times as an "elite big man". Sorry but that term is reserved for big men who average more than 10 and 10, and don't wear clown suits to the draft.) Anyway, its been astonishing to see how quickly everyone has forgotten what an incredible athlete LeBron James is. He is the two time reigning MVP. The country has been awing over his abilities on the basketball court for 9+ years. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16 AND actually lived up to the hype. I have been very critical of LeBron over the years, but I have never doubted his basketball playing abilities. If the league needs a supervillian that bad, then thats fine. But I think that stigma is going to fade rather quickly once tip-off rolls around. We'll see more #6 Heat jersey's pop up around the country in the first week of November than we saw Chris Broussard in the first week of July.

So take Spike's words to heart and if they don't seem to do the trick, try this little line from the mid 90's: The past is gone but something might be found to take it's place -- Hey jealousy

Now to address my feelings.

I've never been good at being the front runner. I cringed as people made title and win predictions. I wanted the numbers from one to seven to go right back into LeBron's mouth. I tried to down play the potential of this team. I did everything I could to take things back to the Shaq vs Zo days, when someone else was the clear #1 and my guy(s) was/were the underdog. I also didn't want to be like all the Lakers/Cowboys/Yankees fans that I've hated my who life. I didn't want to be the guy who was the fan of the superteam, the highlight reel darlings, the team force fed to the public. I didn't want to have to explain to everyone who knows little about me that I have been a Heat fan my whole, post-2nd grade, life. I didn't want to be seen as the band wagoner. But over the course of the weekend following the LeBronal Conclave, the text messages started pouring in. Family and friends, acquaintances, people I hadn't heard from in years, high school friends that I was certain didn't have my number, and even people at the grocery store began congratulating me. My fears began to dissolve with every text message and I began to embrace the future. Then Beasley was shipped off. And Udonis came back. And Shaq was told "No Thanks". And Fisher went back to the Mamba. And Mike Miller came. And suddenly it was looking more and more like a team full of guys I could root for, guys I knew, guys I didn't have to brainwash myself into liking. I'm still not going to make a single prediction about wins or titles. But I will say that I am going to have the time of my life following this team, even if they are going to be front and center on ESPN and ABC for the next half decade.

Now to end with a collection of Heat related thoughts.

I never doubted Riley's power of persuasion and motivation. I mean he got Shaq, GP, 'Toine AND White Chocolate to play some semblance of basketball together...and get in shape. But I had myself talked into Amare and Joe Johnson several times. I was going to be okay with Gay and Boozer. I was hoping for Bosh and filler. I never would have really imagined this would happen.

I still don't know what to make of the "celebration" other than it was nice to see Wade back in the #3 and being flanked by #1 and #6 that didn't include the names Dorell or Mario.

I have always liked Dan LeBatard and I'm glad to being seeing more and more of him.

This < This

I don't think LeBron left any unpaid debts in northeast Ohio.

Zo played better than Shaq in the '06 Finals, period.

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