Prior to the season starting, I’d told anyone who’d listen the Miami Heat were going to be a force like nothing anyone’s ever seen in sports. I predicted they’d finish the season with a 75-7 record, obliterating the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls NBA-record 72-10 mark.
Of course, I was roundly laughed at by anyone and everyone I said this to (except a few Heat fans, who begrudgingly posited it could happen, but almost universally told me it probably wouldn’t).
Then came the season-opening loss to the Boston Celtics, and not only were my prognostications seen as overly optimistic, they were viewed as outright ridiculous.
Miami failed to reach double-digits in scoring in the first quarter of that game against the boys from Beantown, scoring just nine in the period; futility at its finest. Boston, by comparison, looked sharp and ready; as if they’d picked right up where they’d left off last season where they reached the NBA Finals only to lose a heartbreaking Game 7 to the Los Angeles Lakers on shocking prayers tossed up by the improbable hero, Ron Artest.
The Heat didn’t fare much better in the second quarter, garnering only 21 points for a halftime total of 30. Dwyane Wade looked so out of it, many wondered if he’d take a month or more to shake off the rust that lay like a thick blanket over his game; apparently due to having missed all but three minutes of preseason play.
Chris Bosh wasn’t much better, even though he’d played quite a bit in Miami’s preseason games; and playing well at that. He seemed lost on the offensive side of the ball, and his defensive game at times was…to put it bluntly…non-existent.
LeBron James was one of the few bright spots from that night, and helped lead a third-quarter charge that saw the Heat overcome a 15-point halftime deficit and get Miami within six going into the final period of the game.
Wade came alive in that last quarter as well for a minute, and between the two of them they actually found a way to make it a one-possession game at 83-80 with just a minute to play before Ray Allen’s clutch three-pointer with just over 49 seconds to go in the contest effectively put the game out of reach for Miami.
That loss hurt, but what hurt far more was the criticism leveled at the team (some of it well-deserved) by Miami’s many detractors and haters. Yahoo! Sports writer, Adrian Wojnarowski, was especially vicious in his two pieces following the game attempting to slander and besmear LeBron and the Heat overall.
Thankfully, Miami had another game the very next night against Philadelphia, and were able to dominate the 76ers in a 97-87 victory; where Wade shook off the lingering effects of not having really played with the team in any of their games prior to the start of the season, and torched the boys from the City of Brotherly Love for 30.
He followed that performance up on Friday night with a game-high 26 points in a Heat dismantling of the vaunted Orlando Magic, 96-70, in which Miami’s defense began to reveal just how unbelievably dominant they could be.
Of course, the Heat-haters continuously mouthed the mantra, “It’s only three games” as if it meant something, forgetting completely they’d just two days earlier been willing to write Miami off completely because of one loss to Boston.
The Miami Heat players seemingly ignored all this, intent only on preparing for their next opponent (victim), the New Jersey Nets, who they traveled to Newark to play on Sunday, pitting them against the club part-owned by the redoubtable rapper Jay-Z that had tried its best, with the help of billionaire majority-owner Mikhail Prokhorov, to woo LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to come play in the Garden State.
Again the Heat defensive prowess was on display, and Miami turned Halloween into a frightening affair for the Nets as they destroyed the New Jersey franchise 101-78; the score not truly indicative of how lopsided the game truly was, as Erik Spoelstra sat Wade and Bosh the entire fourth quarter, and LeBron for all but a few minutes of the final period.
When it was over, a great majority of the criticism from the pundits and so-called “experts” had begun to cool down, although you could still find some if you looked; especially from the many fans of other teams who are still trying to dismiss the very real possibility that Miami may now have the greatest sports team in the history of sports; period.
Yet, I believe these criticisms are only fueling Miami’s burning desire to prove these doubters and haters wrong. LeBron is known to have prominently posted a famous quote about critics from President Theodore Roosevelt in large print in the locker room that states:
“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Teddy had it right. F-duck these haters; they’s just wishin’ it was them.
So, while it’s only been four games, and I’m loathe to use too much hyperbole, I don’t think it’s out of order, considering not just how badly Miami’s been beating the three opponents they’ve faced since that initial loss to Boston, but also how they’ve been doing it, to say this team very well may win those 75 games I predicted they would.
My only question is this. What would the Heat have to do before the haters will actually acknowledge it’s a possibility? Will they have to go 10-1, 20-2, 30-3, 40-4? What exactly is the number that will flash in front of their eyes and begin to make their brain actually work?
To me, it’s quite obvious. The number is what it is right now, 3-1. For after just four games, I can clearly see the Miami Heat are well on their way to doing everything they’re capable of. No team in the NBA can handle them, and they’re going to prove that, night in and night out.
Wade spoke after the game about how well the Heat have been playing, and how it allowed the “Three Kings” to get a rest during the entire fourth quarter of the game against the Nets, saying:
“The balance is what we are here together for. To have an opportunity to make the game easy on everyone and we’re doing it. We’re playing great team basketball and we’re still not where we want to be, but we’re making sure everyone gets an opportunity.”
That should be a scary thought to every team Miami will face this season. They’re so dominant right now it’s scary, and they’re not even close to being where they can be. They haven’t even worked out the kinks, and they’re already on the verge of being unbeatable.
As I said above, they’ll prove that again and again as the season goes along for all the doubters.
The next piece of evidence they’ll present will be the absolute ass-whupping they’re going to lay on the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight.
Topics: Adrian Wojnarowski, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Erik Spoelstra, Jay-Z, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Mikhail Prohkorov, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Ray Allen, Ron Artest, Theodore Roosevelt, Yahoo! Sports