Enjoy the Ride
In purely basketball terms, this is a work of pure genius; some might call it diabolical genius, but genius nonetheless. This is the Manhattan Project of professional basketball. These three players are seizing history, and this team, barring some natural catastrophe, will be nearly impossible to stop. Worried about the supporting cast, you say? Wade, James, and Bosh alone (and please never let me hear you call them "Miami Thrice") average 80 points a game between them. The supporting cast will work itself out.
We'll witness great basketball, maybe some of the best basketball ever seen. They will win. If they stay together, they'll bring home trophies in the coming years. Enjoy the ride.
That's the big picture. You've been given a gift. But there are some issues here that need some deconstructing. One is the fact that the rest of the world hates this and South Florida would too if another team had received such an obscene bounty. Just the thought of Wade and James together, two of the three greatest players in the world, is mind-blowing. Throw in Bosh and you wonder if there shouldn't be a federal investigation. Was Scott Rothstein involved during any step of these negotiations? Like a Ponzi, it feels a little too good to be true.
So let's tackle this thing one figure at a time:
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Chris Bosh: This one's easy. His reaction on Twitter said it all: "Yeeeeeaaaaah!!!" He's in heaven with this deal, and Miami is lucky to have him. Bosh is an intelligent guy with a great sense of humor who should have the time of his life. And because he's severely talented and driven, he's virtually guaranteed a starring role in the NBA's future canon of historic footage.
Dwyane Wade: I might have saved him for last, but I really don't see this as all that complicated for ol' Flash. Yes, his house, to a degree, is getting taken over by
a player who may be even better than he is. That's a little weird. But you remember that the year he won his championship, and it was his championship, Wade was playing second fiddle, attention-wise, to Shaquille O'Neal. He knows that winning takes care of itself and that for his best to come out, he needs the best players beside him on the court. It's true that no matter who Wade is playing with, he'll have his incandescent moments -- the Chicago game with the fantasy finish, the 46 this year in the playoff win over Boston -- but he can't carry a team through an NBA regular season. It will crush him under its weight. During these past few years, Wade learned that the hard way. You saw it in fourth-quarter turnovers and lost games. Lots of lost games. One thing about the NBA, it's hard as hell. So what happens if he's playing with God's chosen himself? How good can Wade be with LeBron? Think about the Olympics, when Wade played with LeBron and Kobe and the rest of them. He was the best player on that gold medal team because he understands the flow of the game better than any other NBA player (save maybe Kobe). He'll be a better player and will have a longer career for this. And it will still be his house.
Pat Riley: What can you say? He's revived Showtime for the third time. Sure this was primarily the brainchild of the three players now on the marquee, but Riley cleared the cap space and shepherded it through, playing the faithful handmaiden to history. He deserves to bask a little. Don't think Riles hasn't had his hard times. Oh Lord, the times that guy has seen, high and low. Remember the Hornets sweep when he watched the players he traded -- Jamal Mashburn and P.J. Brown -- not only upset his number-one seed but trounce them in a sweep? Last night on ESPN, they were talking about Riley's great aura; well, I've seen him looking old and tired and a little
nervous and a whole lot beaten in dark locker rooms after demoralizing losses. If he had an aura then, it was an aura of doom. There's a reason he left the coaching chair. And then when he came back for Showtime II, the whole business with pushing out Stan Van Gundy was about as distasteful a scene as I've seen in sports. Then as soon as the Heat won the championship, it was all downhill from there. He needed this more than anyone involved. It's a good life for Riley right now.
LeBron James: Saved the most complicated one for last. Let's start with the way he let the world know about his decision. Heinous is an adjective that comes to mind. Last night, he essentially invited the girl he was dumping -- a downtrodden lass named Cleveland -- to his engagement party with a supermodel. On primetime national TV. Who could have imagined that wouldn't go so well? You can't blame Cleveland for burning him in effigy. You can't even blame Cleveland's owner for raving like a child and trying to put a curse on his head. You could tell James had an idea in the back of his mind that this was a disaster. He wasn't filled with joy so much as guilt, and it showed in his interviews. A couple of times, I thought he was going to cry. Was there no one to tell him the whole ESPN circus thing wasn't a good idea? And for James, it's not just the way he did it but the decision itself that could haunt him. Every truly great player that I can think of in the modern era has won his first championship with his first team. Magic. Bird. Isiah. Jordan. Kobe. Wade. People are always going to wonder if James could have done it without Wade. James knows this, but he decided to forgo millions of dollars to play with Wade and Bosh anyway. I think it was Elizabeth Taylor who called success a great deodorant. And if things go as planned, James and his teammates will smell pretty damned good no matter what mistakes were made last night.
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