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Tomorrow Never Comes: The Sin of Mediocrity Treads On Miami’s Dreams

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain; and most fools do.”

Keeping that thought in mind, I still aim to do a little criticizing, condemning, and complaining.

I don’t think it’s a mystery I’m a fan of Miami sports. I love the Miami Dolphins and have been a fan of the franchise since I was three-years-old. I’m a devoted follower of the Miami Hurricanes (baseball, football, and basketball), and have followed their exploits as long as I can remember; certainly long before they ever won a National Championship.

I’ve also been a huge supporter and fan of the Florida Marlins, Florida Panthers, and Miami Heat ever since those franchises came into existence, foregoing my allegiance to the teams I rooted for as a child once Miami gained professional teams in those sports.

There’ve been times, too, when I’ve been able to look at those franchises with real substantial hope they would win a title.

Yet, it’s been very rare over the past five or six years that I’ve been able to harbor the same kind of dreams for the teams I love. Instead, far too often, I’ve had my dreams dashed and have had to settle for watching the teams I love wallow in mediocrity.

Isaac Disraeli once wrote, “It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us.”

Nothing truer could ever be said, and it’s a wretched taste Miami fans are having to choke down lately.

Coming into this season of sports, we fans were fed the hope that the Miami Dolphins would not only improve on last year’s disappointing season, but that they would have a legitimate shot at contending for a berth in the Super Bowl.

They’d gone out and gotten the best wide receiver in the game to make a decent receiving corps great. Ronnie Brown was healthy again, and with Ricky Williams, was supposed to constitute one of the most dangerous running attacks in the NFL. Chad Henne was set to have a breakout season, and their defense had been bolstered through free agency and the draft.

To put it simply, the Dolphins were supposed to be set to make a run at greatness.

Yet, instead, because of poor coaching in my view, they’re wallowing in that mediocrity I spoke of with a record of 5-5 after being shutout at home for the second time in franchise history by the very mediocre Chicago Bears, 16-0 this past Thursday.

Are the rest of the Miami franchises and teams doing any better?

Hardly.

The Miami Hurricanes football team had tons of promise coming into the year. Everyone felt Randy Shannon had finally built a team that could truly make the leap and at the very least win the ACC for the first time since they joined the conference.

Instead, they’ve suffered embarrassing losses at home to bitter rivals, and watched as their hopes of even competing for a ACC title vanished in the defeat yesterday at the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies.

As Martha Graham would put it, they’ve continually committed the “sin of mediocrity” this year, and there’s only one person who should bear the blame for that, the head coach, Randy Shannon.

Likewise, the Florida Marlins watched their season end with the same mediocre results, and when it was all over they rewarded the architect of that mediocrity another year as manager, apparently being too lazy to work hard and find a manager who might just elicit the greatness out of the young talent on the team that’s there.

They followed up that blunder by trading away one of the hardest-working players on the team, Dan Uggla, to their division rival, the Atlanta Braves; weakening the Marlins, and strengthening their enemies.

I won’t even touch on the Florida Panthers, for their mediocrity isn’t even really mediocrity, it’s abysmal lousiness, and there’s actually a chance with the changes they’ve made they might eventually climb out of it.

However, I will touch on the Miami Heat, for that is the heart of this article.

Entering this NBA season, there’s never been a team as hyped as the team that plays their home games at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Ever since LeBron James announced his “Decision” to “take his talents to South Beach” there’s been a veritable avalanche of media coverage predicting how this experiment would turn out.

Jeff Van Gundy was adamant that the “Three Kings” would immediately lay claim to the NBA record for most wins in a season; and I was fully in agreement with him, as were many others.

Yet, Miami has now played 13 games, and what do we have to show for it?

Mediocrity.

Sure, 8-5 is above .500, and the Heat aren’t languishing in the cellar of their division, but they’re also not doing what they were expected to do. Instead, they’re watching a team like the New Orleans Hornets jump out to a 10-1 record (something the Heat should have done); a team that was supposed to be in a rebuilding year.

So, who and what is to blame for this?

It’s all too easy to continue to say Erik Spoelstra isn’t to blame. It’s all too easy to say it’s still early in the season. It’s all too easy to accept the mediocrity till it becomes abysmal lousiness.

I say enough is enough. I say we cannot continue to accept this mediocrity. Not from the Miami Dolphins or the Miami Hurricanes, who should be firing Tony Sparano and Randy Shannon as I write this, and certainly not from the Miami Heat.

As I’ve written before, this Miami Heat team was built not just to be good, but to be great. They weren’t assembled to make the playoffs, but to win titles. They weren’t put together just to win some games against outmatched teams like the Phoenix Suns or Minnesota Timberwolves, but to dominate every team in the NBA; including the Celtics and Lakers.

The fact Spoelstra hasn’t been able to elicit that sort of greatness from these more than talented group of players is a testament to his lack of leadership skills.

People talk about how great he is at teaching defense; that he’s bought into Riley’s system. This is true. However, teaching defense in basketball is relatively simple. Defense is a fundamental part of the game to teach. It’s like teaching someone layup drills or passing.

The true test of a great coaching mind is teaching them offense. Showing them how to flow on the offensive side of the ball so as to defeat those same defensive principles, even if executed properly.

I just don’t see that sort of in-game ability of adaptation by Spoelstra, which isn’t all that surprising considering I never really felt Pat Riley, his mentor, had much of that ability either.

Yet, Riley made up for that with the ability to motivate his players that Spoelstra seems to lack. To paraphrase James Buchanan, the test of leadership isn’t to put greatness in the Miami Heat players, but to elicit it; for the greatness is already there.

With all these teams, the Miami Dolphins, the Miami Hurricanes, the Panthers, the Marlins, and the Heat, we’ve constantly been fed the idea of tomorrow. Ben Franklin would say to that thought, “One today is worth two tomorrows.”

He also said, “Tomorrow, every fault is to be amended; but tomorrow never comes.”

We Miami fans have been dreaming about tomorrow forever, in football, baseball, and basketball, and I for one am tired of waiting for a tomorrow that never comes. I want my dreams to be fulfilled today, and considering the talent on the teams that play in South Beach, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

So, I say to all the franchises and teams, coaches and players, management and owners that play in Miami, quoting William Butler Yeats:

“But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.”

Hopefully Ben wouldn’t think me a fool for having such dreams, or criticizing, condemning, and complaining about those who don’t work tirelessly to fulfill them; as they’re paid to do.

Topics: Erik Spoelstra, Florida Marlins, Florida Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, Miami Hurricanes, NBA, Randy Shannon, Tony Sparano

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  • johnnydwall

    Great write up Nuke. I’m with you on this one. Unfortunately Spoe lacks experience and can’t motivate his team of All Stars to buy into his system. It is hard to follow a guy who his only NBA experience is video coordinator, and scouting.

    This team seems like they need an experienced hard nosed coach.

    • http://hotnuke.wordpress.com Hotnuke

      Agreed, Johnny. It’s not that I have anything against Spo personally, I just don’t think he’s the guy to get this team of superstars to be everything they can be.

      Sadly for Miami fans, that seems to be the case with all of our teams right now; excepting possibly the Miami Hurricanes baseball team and Florida Panthers. The ‘Canes baseball squad because the coach of that team is a proven successful commodity, and the Panthers management and coach because they haven’t been given enough time yet.

      Here’s hoping things change soon. I believe Miami has the talent to excel in numerous sports.

  • bennyvargas

    This just depressed me…lol… so sad but true… btw… love Ben Franklin quotes… good job

    • http://hotnuke.wordpress.com Hotnuke

      Ben is one of my favorites, Benny. He was one of the wisest men ever.

  • Jason

    Heat will eventually win titles, but not this year. The problem? They spent too much on the Big Three, and neglected the bench. FYI, the Bulls won titles because they had a strong bench to rely on. So did the Celtics in ’08. So did the Lakers. I’m sure you will disagree. But think about it: How long can you depend on your stars for the whole 48 minutes? 82 games? And how certain are you that they will still have enough energy to to perform in the Playoffs? In case you forgot, LeBron told the media that he was playing too many minutes over a recent loss.

    Also, it’s pointless if the starters can extend the lead to 30, but the bench comes in and gives it back to the opponent. The starters have to come back in and waste extra energy to maintain the lead. Never underestimate the importance of the bench players.

    The second problem? Chemistry. These guys don’t know their roles, and they’re not playing together.

    The biggest problem is attitude. If the Heat wants to win titles, they need to put down their pride and work as a team. Right now, all the media hype is getting to their heads. LeBron is too concerned about his image, Wade has no stand, and Bosh is simply confused on the court.

    And I disagree on your views of defense. Teaching defense is easy, but how the players execute their defensive roles is what differentiates a mediocre team from a championship contender. No matter how good of an offensive team you are, you’re going to have bad nights. Case in point: Wade was 1-13 last night. What’s the point of being able to ‘defeat those defensive principles’ if you can’t finish at the basket? To quote Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant Jr, “Offense sells tickets; Defense wins championships.” There’s a reason why this quote exist, and this quote doesn’t just apply to basketball.

    • http://www.falloutsheltersports.com Hotnuke

      Jason, I’m sure you’re enjoying yourself right now, but your claims the Heat “won’t” win a title this year are baseless. Are the odds in favor of you being correct? Slightly.

      However, all the Heat-Haters like you who are proclaiming your wondrous abilities as prognosticators, all of you who would lay claim to the title of “Visionary” because you happened to mouth the common mantra among most fans around the NBA that Miami wouldn’t come together this year and win a title. All of you are still only voicing your opinions; and nothing more.

      There have only been 17 games played so far. The season is mighty long, and what you and all those like you fail to acknowledge, but that ALL true Miami Heat fans are cognizant of, is we’ve been here before, my friend.

      Miami was 11-10 during the 2005-06 season, and was just as mediocre after Riley took the reins, until they suffered a devastating loss to the Dallas Mavericks (those same Mavericks who just beat us last night) to drop to 30-20 on the season.

      Guess how that year ended? That’s right, with Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Miami Heat players hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy as they floated down Biscayne Blvd. celebrating their NBA title.

      I won’t say it’s guaranteed anymore they’ll do the same this year, but those, like you, saying it’s guaranteed they won’t, are as foolish and ignorant of history as they come.

  • Mxyzptlk

    Daniel, you bought into your own delusional hype.

    Any impartial observer could see that your “South Beach Superteam” is seriously flawed: No interior presence; no rebounding; less than mediocre point guards. This team was built to win pickup games, not championships. Sure they can run all day, but just ask Phoenix how that works in the playoffs.

    Your “Three Kings” just don’t fit well together and two of the three are proven playoff losers. Your two perimeter players are redundant. What you have is 2 1/2 solid foundational pieces. You need to trade one of your perimeter pieces for a combo of solid banger/rebounder and playmaking/defensive-minded point, since nobody will give you anything of value in return for your “Rupaul of Big Men”, who’s been exposed as a nicely toasted campfire marshmallow, oozing with softness. Perhaps 1 1/2 “Kings” and a solid supporting cast will get you in the championship contender conversation, though I doubt it will happen this season.

    Are you ready to to back down from your prognostication of 75-7, mindful that they’ll need to go 67-1 the rest of the way? How about “the next 7-8 titles in a row, if not more”; will you “love humble pie and the taste of crow” if your predictions don’t come to fruition?

    • http://www.falloutsheltersports.com Hotnuke

      Mxyzptlk,

      We’ll see who’s eating humble pie at the end of the season.

      Whether the Heat break Chicago’s record isn’t as important as whether they hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the year. That is still a possibility, despite your lame analysis.

      Thanks for the read and comment, though…;-)

  • http://adamsilversmith.com Adam

    I agree! well said.

    • http://www.falloutsheltersports.com Hotnuke

      Thanks, Adam.

      I appreciate the read and comment…;-)