Jonathan Swift (the author of Gulliver’s Travels) once wrote:
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
Miami Heat fans definitely aren’t blessed this year. There was a time when they were, and not because they had no expectations for their team; just the opposite. Just a few short years ago, Heat fans had all the hope one could have, after watching Dwyane Wade lead their favorite NBA franchise to a title in 2006.
That NBA Finals was a wonder to behold, with Wade seemingly the reincarnation of Michael Jordan. Miami fans wondered only one thing after that championship: How many rings were the Heat going to win in a row.
Oh, such disappointment since.
Yes, there are plenty of reasons for that disappointment. Miami fans know them all well. Wade was hurt badly the next year and wasn’t able to return in good enough shape to lead the Heat to a defense of their title.
The following year saw even more reasons for the disappointment. With Shaq being traded away along with many other pieces, Miami fans resigned themselves to the rebuilding process. This past year saw them watch that process take form, as they returned to the playoffs, albeit only to lose a disappointing seven-game series to Atlanta.
This year wasn’t even supposed to matter, as the Heat began positioning themselves to make a huge splash in the free agent bonanza that is to come this summer. With the way the Heat played the majority of the year, most fans felt the team itself was simply waiting for the year to end so they could get on with what was to come.
Then the last two months of the season arrived, and the Heat went on a tear like they hadn’t done in years. They began to play incredible team ball, with a stifling defense that led to them winning 12 of their last 13 games.
Miami fans were once again incredibly hopeful about this postseason, even when learning the Heat would face the Boston Celtics. After all, Miami was the hottest team in the NBA, and the boys from Beantown were looking bad; having lost seven of their final ten games.
Of course, the analysts believed Miami didn’t stand a chance against Boston, and were quick to point this out. I myself thought Miami was going to prove all the so-called “experts” wrong and upset the Celts and vindicate my belief in their abilities. I even had hopes they might be able to upset the Cavaliers in the second round (thus helping to persuade LeBron James to jump ship and head south to Miami after the season).
To quote Lord Byron:
“Thus ever fade my fairy dreams of bliss.”
When Paul Pierce sank that buzzer-beating shot to win the game for Boston last night, my heart sunk further than it had in a long time. Sure, I’d been frustrated and disappointed by Miami’s pathetic play in the first two games, but in truth, I blamed a lot of that on Eric Spoelstra’s coaching. In fact, I had intended to write an article about just that, and possibly will some time in the future.
However, as disappointed as I had been after those two losses, the fact remained they were not close games. After Miami gave up that 61-47 lead in the third-quarter of the first game, they never remotely looked like they were in those games.
Last night was a different story.
While Jermaine O’Neal continued to show me he’s a player I have NO interest in seeing in a Miami Heat uniform next year, Dorrell Wright, Mario Chalmers, and even Michael Beasley were all showing me Miami can expect some huge upside from their young players next season.
That is precisely why this one hurt so bad.
If Miami had been able to win that game last night, who knows what may have happened in the rest of the series. At worst, it likely might have gone the distance. As it stands, I’d be surprised if Boston doesn’t close out the series on Miami’s home court in four games.
Thomas Hardy once wrote: “The sudden disappointment of a hope leaves a scar which the ultimate fulfillment of that hope never entirely removes.”
There’s definitely a huge scar I’m bearing today, as I believe many other Miami Heat fans are. That scar won’t completely be removed even if we somehow manage to keep Dwyane Wade this coming summer, entice one or two superstars like LeBron James or Chris Bosh to come to Miami to play with him, and they win a title.
Even then, this year’s losses to Boston will still pain me and all true Heat fans. For we had an expectation going into this postseason that I believe was realistic. We expected Jermaine O’Neal to actually show up and play. We expected Michael Beasley to actually progress more than he has. We expected Eric Spoelstra to actually know how to make great in-game decisions.
On all accounts, we’ve been sorely disappointed.
Henry Ward Beecher once wrote:
“Our best successes often come after our greatest disappointments.”
We Miami Heat fans can only hope he proves prophetic with that quote in our team’s case.
Hopefully Miami will come out on fire in the next game and prove me wrong that they’ll likely be swept out of these playoffs. Hopefully they’ll at least make this series a little respectable by winning a couple of games and showing some fortitude. Hopefully Eric Spoelstra will learn some things from it and become a better in-game coach.
Hopefully Miami can entice LeBron James to wear a Heat uniform next year. And more important than all that, hopefully we Miami Heat fans will be savoring a feeling of fulfillment next year, and not disappointment.
Eliza Tabor once wrote:
“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.”
Hopefully the Miami Heat players themselves feel real disappointment in what’s transpired so far in these playoffs, and hopefully those who return next year have noble enough souls to use that disappointment to strengthen, temper, and intensify their desire to be champions.
Their fans deserve nothing less.