During game 3 of the NBA finals, the Heat trotted out a lineup of Norris Cole, Birdman, Rashard Lewis, a somewhat dead Ray Allen and LeBron James. At that point my brother asked the entirely serious question: is this LeBron and the Cavs again? Watching the game last night one had to agree that the Heat are, in fact, not a very good team.
I will repeat that the Heat are not a very good team. Player for player the Spurs are dramatically better and I can prove it: quick name the sixth best player on the Spurs and the Heat! For the Spurs a lengthy discussion begins, maybe Splitter or Diaw or even Patty Mills. For the Heat it is probably Juwan Howard and he is now coaching the team. Seriously, who is it? Cole or Chalmers or maybe, gasp, Wade? The point is that one through twelve is not a kind comparison for Miami and the only reason they are anywhere remotely close to into this series is because of LeBron. He has single handedly revived the career of Rashard “left for dead” Lewis, gives his teammates more open shots than Jon Stewart on the Tea Party and frequently defends multiple players in the same possession. Could he possibly do any more? Should Spolestra possibly be tried for attempted murder? When he cramped up in game 1 the Heat were not worse, they were downright ghastly. Again and again they brick open looks or pass up shots to swing the ball back to Bron with less than 6 on the shot clock. The most valuable player debate is over, so too may be that of number 3 player ever, as the fact that James dragged this awful team to the finals itself is an astounding feat.
Yet, because he is LeBron, we continue to ask him to do more. Threepeat LeBron! We cry while giving other players a pass. Imagine this for a second: my dad suggested the idea of switching LeBron with Durant. Take a moment to ponder this one carefully. Now you have James, Ibaka and Westbrook as a core, with Adams, Collison and Reggie Jackson. Does that sound like a Championship team? Not really, it sounds more like a dynasty. Meanwhile the Heat are now probably a second round team or Eastern Conference Finalist…at best. In the NBA it is not even close, there is LeBron and everyone else. No other player can elevate a Cavaliers like lineup to the heights he has, they simply cannot. The reason – truly the only reason – the Heat will Threepeat is because of LeBron James dragging them over the line when it matters most. Bosh will continue to play well, and Wade will hopefully improve, but there is no question how they get there: riding the broad shoulders of the best player in the world, LeBron James.