2012 NBA Champions: Lebron James and the Miami Heat, Losers: The NBA & Its Fans
Much to the chagrin of haters everywhere, Lebron James, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat got their first championship in the “Big 3” era. I won’t lie, I am a hater. I wanted to see the Heat lose in the finals again, to the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and co. are the lovable bunch who supposedly built their team the right way – through the draft, through trades, and through a proper rebuild.
The folks in Seattle would have been pissed off to see their beloved Supersonics franchise go from the basement of the NBA to the top of the heap in such a short period of time. They definitely benefited from some shrewd drafting and key pick ups. First, Kevin Durant fell to them second overall when the poor Portland Trailblazers screwed up again and took Greg Oden. Had the Blazers taken Durant, they’d be one of the best teams in the league, instead they took Oden and Brandon Roy, who have collectively retired, or sat out for full seasons. The Thunder got Westbrook in the first round, they got Harden fourth overall, they got Ibaka later in the first, and traded Jeff Green to the Celtics for their big mean stopper in the paint, Kendrick Perkins. They added Derek Fisher for some veteran savvy and grit, but it turns out that youth and athleticism weren’t enough to stop Lebron in his quest for a ring.
Credit to Lebron, the MVP of the finals. He was unstoppable. Had he played the same way in the finals for the Cavaliers, he would have brought a banner to his home town. Instead he stunk it up for the Cavs when it mattered most, and jumped ship as soon as he could. His Heat team was destined to win. The Heat were built in a totally different fashion than the Thunder. They didn’t need to draft well, other than by taking Dwayne wade all of those years ago. They didn’t need to make any shrewd trades. They had Lebron, Wade and Bosh concoct a scheme to join together after their deals expired. Lebron and Bosh left Cleveland and Toronto hanging, thinking they had a chance to retain their services, when that was never in the cards. They knew all along that they were going to join forces to create their own big three and dethrone the aging Celtics as the best triumvirate the league has ever seen. Once those three were in place, the Heat only needed to bide their time. They did just that, waiting for veterans who were seeking their first ring to sign on at discount rates in the hopes that they could ride the big three’s coattails and bring home the title. Sure enough, it happened fast.
Mike Miller signed at a discount, Eddie House joined them, but the Heat faltered against the Mavericks last year. This year they wouldn’t be denied. House left, but Shane Battier joined the Heat, providing a versatile defensive stopper who could knock down clutch threes. Mario CHalmers had big moments, and Udonis Haslem was healthy. Everything fell into place and the Heat dispatched the young, inexperienced Thunder in 5 games. The Thunder were supposed to have home court advantage, but after splitting the first two games in OKC, playing three straight in Miami was definitely not a “home court advantage”. The NBA should consider going back to the same schedule that the NHL and MLB uses. 2 – 2 – 1 – 1 – 1. I don’t think that would have changed the Thunder’s fate, but they may have been able to squeeze out another game.
So the Heat have their first title in the big three era. Where does that leave the rest of the NBA? In my honest opinion, it is in shambles. Entering next season, how many real legitimate title contenders can you name? Miami, OKC, Chicago, San Antonio? The Celtics big three will be dismantled by then. The Spurs and Mavs will be another year older. The Lakers are in disarray and Kobe is physically falling apart. Perhaps if Dwight Howard comes to the Lakers they’ll be a legitimate threat again, but if that doesn’t happen, the Lakers won’t beat OKC or even San Antonio. The Magic are a one man show, and the Bulls, even with their regular season record, couldn’t beat the Sixers without D-Rose. Even with D-Rose they lost in the Eastern Conference finals last year to the Heat. The Clippers look good, but I don’t think they could beat the Thunder. The Knicks? Don’t make me laugh.
The bottom line is simple. Lebron, Bosh and Wade have their rings, but the NBA is a bloody joke. It’s a shadow of it’s former self. Who are the losers? Not the Oklahoma City Thunder. They’ll be back. It’s the NBA and its fans. This is a league now where there is no parity. Unlike the NHL, you won’t ever see a #8 seed win it all. Gone are the days where each team had their stars who wanted to beat each other for the glory. Now everyone is joining forces in big markets to win it all. Chris Paul joined Blake Griffin in L.A. Melo and Amare joined up to bring the glory to MSG. Meanwhile, the teams they left are all crap. Cleveland and Toronto are going to have lottery picks for the next couple of years. So are the hornets, and when Nash leaves, so will the Suns. The Nuggets got some value for Melo, because he was honest with management. The NBA nixed the trade for Paul to go to the Lakers, even though they would have gotten better value than they did from the Clippers. Lets all congratulate the Miami Heat. They are the champions. The real losers aren’t the Thunder, its the NBA and the fans, because NBA basketball has gone to shit. Congrats Lebron, and thank you.