Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Heat are why people hate the NBA

Being as my personal life has finally settled down (as has my laziness) I figure I'll write a few articles about the sports that Code Red has little to no knowledge of, those sports being basketball (due to a traumatic childhood incident), hockey, and combat sports. I could write about football or baseball, but years of exposure to him have proven, at the very least, that he knows more about baseball than 99.9% of the population and as my picks record indicates, he can say whatever he wants about football this year and I will accept it as fact.

There have been at least one hundred thousand articles written about why the Heat are going to win five titles or why they will win none, and by now everybody who watches the NBA has their own opinion that won't be changed until somebody wins the title in 2011. I, like anybody outside of South Beach (and only 36% of the African-American population, apparently, though that discussion is for another day) want the entire team to crash in a horrifying airplane crash. My reasoning is slightly different though. Whereas most people hate them either because they are seen as too good, dishonorable, or some other nonsense, I hate them because they are ruining a potential renaissance of basketball by trying to convince the masses that NBA basketball is the same as they perceived it when Jordan retired.

Most people will remember that when Jordan retired a wave of cocky Jordan wannabe's came into the NBA. Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Latrell Sprewell, Allen Iverson. All tiny, cocky, annoying, narcissists looking only to make a name for themselves (victories and humility be damned). This black hole era where common sense was to find a shooting guard willing to toss up half your team's shots in lieu of running the team's offense almost killed the NBA completely.

You'll remember that I'm writing about the Heat, and here is my point. The NBA has finally come around to building teams again. Teams filled with great players who know their roles, have decent personalities, and fit into a coaches system. Teams built to win, not to fill seats! And eventually the fans would return, not because of some flash in the pan like the MLB had with the home run chase between Sosa and McGwire or like the NBA had with Bird and Magic, but like the NFL did it; with great play, strategy, consistency, and a great overall product.

Then here come the Heat, and out crawl all the people who haven't watched the NBA since Jordan played. Instead of returning slowly because they realized that the overall product was fun to watch, and the players fun to listen to and easy to relate to, they have all run back at once to see the Heat.

Of course, if these people had watched the NBA they would realize that the Heat can't win a title like they are now, and here is why:

1: They have no point guard. In the NBA right now there are too many point guards who need to be guarded by an equal. Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, even Jameer Nelson and Tony Parker among them, and they don't have anyone who can come close to defending those guys.

2: They have no inside presence. They overvalued Bosh because he looked great on an awful team. Now everyone can see he's basically a scared Pau Gasol. The Heat's 4 and 5 position combo is the softest in the league defensively, and offensively they are going to get harassed by every team with a dominant defensive big, i.e. the Bulls, Magic, Celtics, Mavericks, Spurs, Lakers, Hornets, etc.

3: Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are great defenders when they want to be, but they're matched up against positions that, in the current NBA, are filled with players made to play defense! The Bulls, Celtics, Mavericks, and Hornets get most of their offense elsewhere, which nullifies the one good defensive aspect of the Heat!

To recap, the best offensive players the Heat have match up against the best defenders on the best teams in the league, and the best defenders on the Heat match up against, at most, the number 3 or 4 scoring threats on the best teams. The Heat weren't built as a team, they were built to play streetball and sell tickets. They were built in the memory of that awful, ancient idea that came about after Jordan retired that suggests all you have to do is throw enough talent and shot takers onto a team and they'll win.

I hope that the fans who are drawn in by the Heat will realize how great the league has become after recovering from the post-Jordan days, and stay fans of the NBA and their teams, but what I fear will happen is people will come to watch the Heat, grow to hate the Heat because they epitomize why fans left to begin with, and leave when the Heat dissolve because they believe the NBA is the same as it was.

As someone who never stopped watching the Bulls, and struggled through the post-Jordan years in the NBA, take my advice: come to hate the Heat, stay because the NBA is good again.