Why the Big 3 Era Miami Heat Could Be Like the Marino-Shula Era Miami Dolphins
As the Heat were walking off the floor after their Game 5 loss to the Celtics, a new star was born in Jack Meyer, also known as the "Good Job, Good Effort" kid.
At first, many thought it was someone mocking the Heat's loss, however, in the end it just turned out to be a nine-year old boy who looked at the bright side of things.
It reminded me of someone—nine-year old Thomas Galicia.
Replace Heat with Dolphins and that was me at nine-years-old. An enthusiastic Dolphins fan during the Dan Marino-era; living and dying with the fortunes of the team.
But in the end, if they didn't get it done, I wasn't the snarky and cynical writer that I am today; I was a nine-year-old who was innocent enough to just see the "Good job" and "good effort" exerted by the Miami Dolphins (despite the fact that this came after I would cry for about a half-hour—but that only happened after the 1994 AFC Divisional Playoffs against San Diego).
After seeing his news story, I reflected; How did I become what I became? What will stop young Jack Meyer from becoming a cynical, snarky and obnoxious Miami Heat featured columnist in 20 years?
The answer is complicated. However, I'm going to simplify it: the Dolphins of the Marino era did it to me.
Unless things change for the Miami Heat, the Big Three era is going to do it to this poor kid.
The circumstances are similar: team with the best at what he does as the centerpiece (with LeBron James being to him what Dan Marino was to me), legendary man at the helm (somewhat; he doesn't get to see Pat Riley coach this team—yet—while I got to see Shula), great players who would otherwise be hated had he played for other teams (Dwyane Wade, meet Bryan Cox) and a legacy of underachieving.
With the exception of the Houston Oilers of that same era, no early-90's NFL team underachieved the way the Miami Dolphins did.
From 1990 until Shula's final season in 1995, Miami went 59-37 in the regular season with four playoff appearances, two AFC East championships and hosted the 1992 AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills.
However, the Bills were a thorn in the side of the Miami Dolphins—much like the Boston Celtics have been to the Miami Heat. In that time Buffalo went 11-4 against the Dolphins; including 3-0 in the playoffs.
It was against Buffalo that Don Shula would coach his final game with the Miami Dolphins, a 37-22 drubbing in the 1995 AFC Wild Card game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate (through the first three quarters the Dolphins were trailing 27-0).
The day of that game I was 12 years old. I knew that a magical era was over. I had turned a bit, become more cynical. It was also at that time when I started to write. Obviously I wasn't publishing anything anywhere except in a composition book (which I still use to write first drafts and probably have a budget of $50 a year for). Channeling my inner-Doug Funnie (remember that show), I would write my feelings down—and most of the time it was about the Dolphins.
The Big Three's first two seasons have been much like the last six Marino-Shula era Dolphins. They've put up a regular season record of 104-44 with two Southeast Division championships, an Eastern Conference championship and two Eastern Conference finals appearances. Any team would take that, much like any team would take the Dolphins six year run from 1990-1995, but in both cases the expectations were higher.
Marino had to get his ring, much like LeBron had to get his. Marino was, even in 1990, one of the greatest passers to play the game and the best passer in the NFL, much like LeBron is already considered one of the greatest players in NBA history and the greatest player right now.
Marino fell short in those six years, and after that came the Jimmy Johnson era. While the Dolphins would make three more playoff appearances and post a record of 36-28, it never felt like Miami was as close to a ring as they were at the beginning of the decade. Marino's injury woes, as well as his feud with Jimmy Johnson, had something to do with it.
To many NBA experts, 2012 was the closest the Heat would be to a title. Derrick Rose's injury, along with the Celtics' age, meant to many that Miami should waltz through the playoffs in the East, with or without Bosh.
This seemed to be the case, however, Miami is having a tougher go at the playoffs than we thought. While they got through New York in five, as many expected, they struggled with the Indiana Pacers before finally beating them in six games.
Then, in an Eastern Conference final where Miami was once up 2-0, LeBron James had to have the game of his life and ended up going for 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a 98-79 drubbing of the Celtics just to force a Game 7.
But in the context of seven game series, one game is akin to one quarter in football. If Marino and the Dolphins didn't win, a great third quarter by Marino wouldn't become the story; the story was Miami lost.
The same thing would happen if Miami fails to close out Boston Saturday night.
For right now, the Big Three Miami Heat aren't the Marino-Shula era Dolphins. They still have life.
But if on Saturday night Miami fails to take the first Game 7 of the Big Three era, it could set the tone for the remainder of it.
Then, much like I was burned by those early-90's Dolphins teams (teams I still love, they did give me some of my favorite childhood memories), Jack Meyer will be burned as well.
Hopefully he doesn't become the cynical sports fan that I've become after that.
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