Since taking the stage in mid-July two years ago and declaring to Miami Heat fans and the world in general that a dynasty was about to unfold in South Beach, LEBRON JAMES, DWYANE WADE and CHRIS BOSH have been upended by Dallas in last year’s NBA Finals and now face possible elimination to Boston in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. For the Heat, it’s championship or bust. Wade clearly acknowledges that. But is the pressure to win too great for the Heat? We’ll soon find out but Miami is in the perfect situation for a “Hollywood as Hell” ending.
First, there are two kinds of pressure in sports. There is pressure to win which is beholden to every team, every franchise. But the other kind of pressure is that which a team and its players puts on itself to win…and the Miami Heat clearly are a team shackled with the latter.
That self-induced pressure started the minute the Miami “Big Three” rose up out of the stage at American Airlines Arena two years ago and has been intensifying ever since. It is the reason that despite having an MVP season and spectacular playoffs (29.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists), James may still find himself titleless after another passing year. It certainly is the reason Dwyane Wade has been extra chippy this season, showing his frustration with flagrant acts of aggression versus Heat opponents during the year.
And during Game 5 Tuesday versus the Boston Celtics, the pressure on Miami was so intense you could cut it with a knife.
Yet through all of this, there are those who want to give the Miami Heat (and particularly LeBron James) “a pass” for their playoff woes this round against Boston. Doc Rivers is out coaching clueless Erik Spoelstra. Chris Bosh is not completely healthy. The Heat have no supporting cast or big man. And my favorite: It’s not LeBron’s fault. He’s playing great. Look at his numbers.
All excuses. I don’t recall hearing any of these so-called “qualifiers” when the Heat took to the stage that July. All I heard was, “not four…not five…not six…” Was James and his Miami crew talking about the number of years it would take to bring another championship to South Beach?
The Celtics are an older team. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are not one hundred percent healthy. Garnett is playing out of position because the Celtics lack a true center. The Celtics are even missing spark plug Avery Bradley for the remainder of the playoffs. Yet you don’t hear excuses from them. They just grind and believe they will find a way to win.
People say I hate on LeBron. But I don’t. I just hate on the idea of talking the talk without regard to walking the walk. These guys put the spotlight on themselves. They went Hollywood as Hell. Do they not realize that Hollywood is full of fantasy and make believe?
“The time when there is no one there to feel sorry for you or to cheer for you is when a player is made.” – Tim Duncan
On Thursday night in Boston Garden, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will have an opportunity to truly show what they’re made of. To prove that they are indeed the “Chosen Ones.” This particular show will not come with South Beach pomp and circumstance nor will it take place on stage with mics in hand in front of their own fair weather fans. Quite the contrary, this stage setting will be vociferously hostile, anti-Heat and feature those intimidating 17 championship banners hanging from the rafters screaming for an eighteenth to be hoisted.
That is precisely the kind of true challenge the Heat must overcome to be a champion. It’s what this bunch of South Beach headliners need to validate what they think they are. Despite what people think will happen in Game 6, LeBron James and the Heat have the chance to prove they’re not a bunch of hype. The correct stage is now set.
It’s just a simple case of be careful what you proclaim yourself to be because you just may have to go out and actually prove it.