Vegas may want to revise their odds. LeBron James and the odds on favorite Miami Heat were manhandled by the Celtics in the first half of the opening game. In fact, if it weren't for the Celtics turnovers, the game would have been a blowout in the first half.
There are a number of reasons for the Heat's performance—Opening night jitters, the Celtics vaunted defense, Dwyane Wade's absence from preseason camp. However one thing happened that no one, not even the Miami Heat could have accounted for, they didn't get any superstar calls.
In the first quarter alone, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James each had 3 turnovers a piece. By halftime those numbers had grown to 4 and 5 for each of them. Not to mention their shooting was abysmal.
They received some calls but not nearly with the frequency they are used to—it clearly rattled them.
LeBron James consistently looked at the refs and the jumbo-tron wondering where the calls he and Wade have grown accustomed to during their stint in the NBA had gone.
Simply put, they are gone baby gone, never to return unless a certain party from on high decrees that they return.
Alone, they were worshiped, celebrated, revered for taking squads that were perceived as less than and carrying them on their backs.
Now their assemblage garners nicknames such as Miami Thrice and the Super Friends to name but a few. They have become superstar villains, must-see-TV, but apparently no longer worthy of the calls they expect night in and night out.
In 06 against the Dallas Mavericks, Dwyane Wade recorded the most trips to the free throw line in NBA Finals history. So egregious were his numbers, Phil Jackson was prompted to say “He gets more calls than Michael.”
Perhaps they should have expected this, they are the odds on favorites after all from odds-makers in Vegas, pundits such as Jeff Van Gundy, among others. It would seem now, the sentiment is they don't need any help.
In the first quarter LeBron barreled down the lane and is called for a charge. At the start of the second, Wade is called for a travel. Both looked around incredulously as if to ask “what the hell is going on?”
Gone are the phantom whistles that allow monster games to be put up with hardly any effort.
The reality in the NBA is this, when you become “made men” the equivalent of tenure in the mob, you get the calls, it's just good business. However, when you fall out of favor, the well dries up.
Just ask Kobe Bryant who's free throw attempts numbers are still good, but a far cry compared to his counterparts Wade and James in recent years. This has been attributed to Bryant's unwillingness to drive, assumed rightly or wrongly by the belief that he's lost a step.
The reality is from the moment Kobe Bryant became a villain, his numbers went way down. They've been in steady decline ever since. Why go to the hoop and endure the physical beating without the promise of a reward?
It's a lesson Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and to a lesser extent Chris Bosh would all do well to learn. 81 games to go and no bailouts forthcoming.