2011, Basketball, Playoffs, Sports

Why the Heat Should be Worried they Squandered This Opportunity

Though it may seem obvious to some the Heat will have another chance at a title, I’m not sure it’s so certain. For a variety of reasons.

  • Wade’s fragile body:
    • LeBron has been quite healthy since he came into the league. And Bosh has been reasonably healthy. But Wade – their best player if the finals are anything to go by – has played 80 less games than LeBron (that’s two games less than a full season, folks). Are we to expect him to get healthier as he gets older?
  • The “8 championships in 6 seasons” approach already failed:
    • Though making it within two games of being champions doesn’t seem like a failure in any kind of objective sense, especially for a team playing its first season together, in all subjective senses this was a failure. They promised they would win 70 games – easily – and they promised they would win multiple championships – easily. Even those who hate them for this expected / worried that they would do what they said. Though it is impossible for us to know what goes on in their heads (especially these particular heads: the heads of insanely rich ego-maniacal athletes) the external pressure is now worse than it was when they found out they were villains to the sports world at large. I suspect that someone – whether it’s Riley, Spoelstra, LeBron, Wade and / or Bosh – will be frustrated about this failure before the six year window is up. And a trade or two will result.
  • The future salary cap:
    • If the owners win the current labour struggle, the NBA will no doubt be a different league whenever “next” season begins. A lower soft cap – or some variation – could indeed hinder the Heat’s ability to pursue ’30-something ring-chasers’ in the way they got Bibby this year (not that he helped). But a hard cap, or anything resembling a hard cap, could theoretically cripple the Heat for years, unless they trade one of their big three contracts.
  • Recent trends of past champions:
    • Look at the last ten champions excluding the Mavericks. What do we see? The Lakers repeated twice, with two players on all four of those teams (one of whom left and came back in the interim). The Spurs won three times, but over the course of six seasons, and with a fair amount of change outside of a couple key players (who have remained with the franchise for ‘life’). Both Bryant and especially Duncan are getting to the point where maybe they can’t do what is necessary any more. Other than that: the Heat only got back to the finals because of collusion on the part of some free agents, the Pistons made the final the next year and never again and are now a joke, the Celtics were expected to win multiple championships, but only managed to get back to the finals one time, and look more and more like their window is closing. The runners up? New Jersey seemingly upgraded on paper but got worse (and then much worse). The Mavericks finally won with nearly a totally different team. We all know what happened to Cleveland. Howard just announced he will be testing free agency so the Magic’s time looks to be up as well. The point? Dynasties don’t happen like they used to. The Spurs and Lakers won a lot in the last decade and a half, but only one guy was on all four and all five of those teams, respectively. The idea that three players will lead one team to a(n extended) dynasty in the NBA in this era goes against all our current experience.

This amounts to good news to those of us who hate the Heat.

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