Ramil vs Goldberg: Part 2


Dec 18, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem (40) points at Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson (not pictured) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: This is the final part of an email exchange between AUCH editor Wes Goldberg and staff writer David Ramil. The two discuss if the Heat will make any more moves before the trade deadline, Greg Oden and the Heat fans. This is Part 2. You can check out Part 1 here.

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Wes: To your point, I think getting rid of both Miller and Joel effected the locker room. But if they got rid of Haslem, all hell would break lose. No way that happens (not to mention that Haslem has zero trade value, especially at his salary). Beasley is a bit of a roller coaster in terms of minutes, as well as possibly and partly what he is doing to deserve those minutes, but he won’t be cut.

The only move I see coming is a choice between Roger Mason Jr. and Toney Douglas. The Heat have no reason to carry that many point guards, especially when Wade and James can facilitate too. I expect them to let one go. Mason Jr. is better at stretching the court and has the “I’ve been here longer” advantage, but Douglas is a much better defender. If it comes down to newest hired, first fired, then Douglas is out. That could be the case.

I understand letting Miller and Anthony go for money reasons. It was smart in a sense that they will be rebuilding this summer and that money will certainly help. Miller was good for a random playoff burst, but the Heat are deep and I see no reason why a healthy player can’t do the same. Unloading Anthony’s contract was also a must.

As for the effect on the locker room, I could argue that losing guys like that can bring the locker room even closer. The guys may see that and say “hey, we need to savor these moments and do whatever we can to show the suits that we belong together.”

David: I think we can agree, then, that there’s nothing in the works regarding a trade. A case – perhaps for the first time in Pat Riley’s tenure as Team President – of not having anything of value to get something even more valuable. My problem with Miller’s release and Anthony’s trade is that they were both exclusively business decisions. Now I can’t claim to know the exact details of owner Micky Arison’s finances, but I’m pretty sure he fits into that multi-billionaire category. Having ridiculous amounts of money like that and then justifying these personnel moves seems disingenuous.

I know Anthony hardly ever contributed but I felt like having him on the roster was good for the team’s “soul,” if you will.  (On a side note, I met Joel when he first joined the Heat during their disastrous 2007-08 season. No one knew who he was and he was shopping by himself. At a Target. An NBA player, making bank, at a Target! Maybe that’s why you gotta love the guy…) Miller’s contribution is a bit more tangible. Seeing him grab rebounds in traffic and hit 3’s for Memphis is painful.

Yeah, someone else can fill his shoe(s) but part of what I love about this team is how much of a, well, team, they are. They really get along, do things together off the court, and it’s not just about basketball. Using the “show the suits” argument doesn’t feel right because it creates the sense of “Us vs. Them” in a locker room that shouldn’t have that mentality.

Wes: (1) I concede. My show the suits argument sucked.

(2) What did Joel have in his shopping cart?

David: I suppose I should feel…honored? I mean, forcing a concession out of you feels like a moral victory. Not quite fulfilling but I’ll take it.

Joel was just moving to Miami, presumably after his stint at UNLV. What does any single guy moving to a new place in the big city need? Everything. But Target? On an NBA salary? Chalk it up to being Canadian.

Wes: That’s what I said about Bieber.

What made Anthony expendable was Chris Andersen and Greg Oden. I have been surprised with how good Oden looks, recently. He isn’t nearly in condition to be a key rotation guy–his ups aren’t there yet and he still looks winded after about 5 minutes–but he has certainly looked better every time he plays.

He effects the way opponents attack the rim. Anyone reading this who doubts that should go back and watch the Pistons game. I think I’m ready to say that it is not a matter of if he will help against Roy Hibbert in the ECF, but how much.

While we’re stopped at Indiana Station, I feel like I’m the only Heat fan that isn’t firing off the sirens about the Pacers. Indiana plays a great brand of regular season basketball, but I don’t feel like they are the team to beat in the playoffs. That offense is bad enough (19th in the NBA) but is able to get by in a very week conference. When defenses tighten up in the playoffs, I don’t know that they will be able to score. Miami will have to figure out Hibbert (which they did toward the end of last year’s series, when they held the Pacers to 79 and 76 points in two of the final three games) but past that, I like the Heat vs anyone as long a Wade is healthy.

David: Wow. From Bieber to Hibbert in two paragraphs. Frightening.

So, yeah, absolutely – Greg Oden looks great out there. At first I wondered if everyone was so psyched about his performance because he’s such a feel-good story, y’know? If this had happened to Beasley, being the knucklehead that he’s been, would people care so much? But G.O. has been such a decent guy and from what I’ve read from Portland fans, they’re happy about his comeback.

I looked at what people were calling his “breakout” performance – the San Antonio game – and tried to really dissect his impact. Man, his sheer size is such an asset for Miami..offensively, he’s a big target for Wade, James, Chalmers and Cole when they cut into the paint or along the baseline. And defensively, he altered a number of Tony Parker’s forays into the lane…on one play, he even kept Tim Duncan from grabbing a rebound because Oden’s just too big to maneuver around!

I wonder how he will affect the Pacers, though. Will he start? If so, his impact on Hibbert should be immediate. With Mahinmi and, now, Bynum, on Indiana’s bench, is it better for Oden just to come in give Miami’s second unit some size?

The Pacers do worry me, however, but not for the reason you might think. Yeah, Scola and Bynum round out the roster nicely but I still think Miami’s talent is greater. Their three best players (George, West and Stephensen) don’t match up against our best three and I think Chalmers is better than Hill at point guard. Indiana’s platoon of Hibbert/Bynum/Mahinmi vs. Andersen/Oden/Battier (by default) is their only advantage. Where Indiana can beat us is how unevenly Miami’s games against them are officiated.

Wes: The Oden story is a great one for the league. I think the juxtaposition of a once-hated, now-tired storyline of the Big 3 and the feel good story of Oden is an interesting one. NBA fans seem to want Oden to succeed, but still don’t want to see the Heat win another title.

Now, the easy explanation is: They want Oden to succeed on a personal level–his NBA comback–but don’t want Miami to succeed on a team level–another title.

My issue with that is that Oden chose to come back because he loves basketball, but chose the Heat over many suitors partly because he also wants to win.

So for those people that want to see Oden succeed personally but not his team as a whole, I say, well, Oden wants to win a title for personal reasons as well.

Does that make sense?

David: It absolutely does. I think your “easy explanation” is spot on. If he comes back successfully but Miami falls just short of the title, then it all works out for those people.

As for Oden’s motivation for signing with the Heat, while winning a title was probably a factor, it also represented the best option for bringing him along slowly and without expectations. We can’t forget that San Antonio was another potential destination – another stable organization with championship hopes and a fairly-set roster.

Now here’s a scenario for you…if Miami wins and Oden’s comeback is complete (to the point where he’s a factor throughout the playoffs) does he become just another reason to hate the Heat? If Greg stays healthy, I would expect people to turn on him somewhat. He would just be one more example of Miami stacking their team through nontraditional means.

By the way, this has always been a sticking point for me regarding how people perceive the Spurs and the Heat. San Antonio is seen as this team that was built organically – through the draft, etc. – while Miami is a group of talented, whiny mercenaries. Never mind that five Heat players were either drafted by or have only played with Miami (a sixth, Anthony, was just traded) and James Jones is a local boy (as is Udonis Haslem). The Spurs have eight.

Wes: Hm. I don’t see people ever disliking Oden for basketball reasons. His comeback in any scenario would be too remarkable.

I do believe some of the Heat hate has been replaced by Heat fatigue. People don’t want to see them win for different reasons now. Before, it was out of hate/jealousy and now it is out of boredom–something I can understand. James is also being more appreciated.

I do think people dislike Heat fans, however. I don’t think fans around the country think that we deserve the team. To that I say: what the hell does that even mean? Sure, the Heat are one of the league’s newest franchises, but did Boston fans deserve the first Russell teams? Did hippies living in Los Angeles deserve to get a team in the first place? I get that we don’t show up for the start of games, but the Heat still sell out and people do show up. People in Miami tend to run late to EVERYTHING. Anyone is SoFla knows this and it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate what we were given, it’s a cultural thing.

David: I think the Heat exhaustion (pardon the pun) isn’t just directed at Miami, it’s the fact that the NBA title seems to be available only a few teams. Think of the last few champions…Miami, San Antonio, Lakers, with the occasional title won by a Dallas (groan!), Detroit or Boston. With 30 teams, I understand the lack of realistic championship hopes could make you angry/bored/jealous.

Now the fans…saying we don’t deserve a team is too far. But it is embarrassing to see those empty lower bowl seats on nationally-televised games. I know how people run late (Cuban Time is an all-too-real factor in my family) but the real problem is only in the lower bowl. Those are the seats owned by the corporations that are too expensive for the average – and real – fan. Upstairs, the energy is contagious and the seats are packed but the cameras don’t show that.

There should be a punishment for leaving those seats empty. I’ve actually proposed a system where they open up the empty seats in the lower bowl immediately after the first quarter to anyone who wants them. It’s an incentive for everyone…if you’ve got an upper bowl seat, you might get lucky and wind up in the fifth row. If you’re a season ticket holder in the lower level, you’ll make sure you get there early so you don’t lose your seat. Win-win for everybody.

Wes: A win-win for everyone except those who lose their seat or the people that end up in fights over this first-come, first-serve method.

Regardless of how many fans make the beginnings of the games, I’m confident in saying the Heat will be around in the end, and that it is going to be one heck of a show.