Usually these ceremonies simply involve an eff you to a vicious rival team of the Champs -like the Heat were forced to become last year when the Dallas Mavericks made them sit through a trophy presentation.
This year though, I had no problem with the Celts sitting through the whole thing as I hate them so it was all good. Seeing Bosh, Wade and LeBron get their rings and grin like kids with a new toy was fantastic. However, the best part was seeing them get right back to the business of repeating and playing with fire and crazy intensity (keeping in mind the Celtics have been constructed this season solely for the purpose of beating Miami. There is no question they will be beaten by someone like Indiana because they focused too much on the Heat).
How can you not like to see Ray Allen stick it to his old team (he is a guy I actually like, mostly for his tenacious D) was incredible. Midway through the first quarter after Rashard Lewis hit a deep three I had the thought: Man, I really love this year’s Heat. They are deeper (adding more shooting / scoring) and more primed for a Championship run (they know what it takes) than ever before.
Then there is LeBron who is playing at a ridiculously high level and who last night, in slightly more than a half had 26 points and 10 rebounds. We need to frequently remind ourselves we are watching the most dominant player in the last twenty years. Twenty years ago, Jordan had a mega-apex after the Olympics and 1992 Finals and now LeBron too, is enjoying the same feeling, for the next generation this is almost a surreal experience. They struggle to understand how good LeBron is – for kids these days, he is without doubt the best player any of them will ever see. So, it was another great night for LBJ and other than the cramps he was virtually unstoppable: my favorite moment from last night was when LeBron handed the ball to Bosh, disappeared off screen and then reappeared on the end of a ridiculous alley-oop from Bosh. At first I thought Bosh might have been simply throwing the ball up and then LBJ swooped into frame for the dunk.
The one sticking point for the team – Wade who seems hell bent on reasserting himself into “alpha dog” status (both through strange haircut and bad shots). At one point, LeBron threw a tricky spin bounce pass to Bosh that Wade stole from him and then turned over. He just tried to do too much and seems desperate to prove his importance. A development to watch over the course of the season (yes, I cannot stop myself from nit picking with this team, I love them too much).
This moment was a special one: to see that banner CHAMPIONS! raised to the rafters. When I signed on to support the Heat two years ago, this is what I could not wait to see. The moment felt good – great even – but the problem is one I believe will plague Miami all season: wanting more. Titles are like a drug you just want to keep chasing, once you have gotten a taste nothing else is ever as good. That is why KG plays every single game like his life is on the line, or why Jordan could never fully let go, or why Duncan conserves himself for the right moments time and again. That is why LeBron is going to be putting on the greatest display we have seen in recent memory, and we are all the better for it.
Currently, I have been re-reading Bill Simmons Red Sox Opus Now I Can Die in Peace (tough to get through one time as a Yankees fan, but twice? As a Vancouver Canucks fan I can sympathize) and more than ever I understand the book on a different level. Imagine if LeBron and Miami did not win last year, the chaos and scrutiny that team would be facing. Bosh and Spolestra would be gone for sure and likely others. There would be no way Ray Allen would be there, and no way the Celtics would have re-tooled like they did. Watching LeBron and co. take a ring was incredible, unbelievable and wholly an unnerving experience – I was actually watching through my fingers for most of the 2012 Playoffs. A title just means so much, especially for a guy whose hockey team has now lost two brutal game sevens seventeen years apart. Will I see them win a title in my lifetime? Will I love them any less if they do not win? (The answer to both questions is “Of Course”).
A banner in Miami means so much to LeBron’s legacy because now we can begin to appreciate him as a great player. As he once said, now we can enjoy his greatness without the endless questions of whether or not he can get it done when it counts the most, because as the banner they raised the other night proclaims: yes, without a doubt, he can.