There they were, one day after "The Decision," surrounded by flashing lights and thousands of screaming Heat fans as they made their grand entrance. Chris Bosh was roaring along with the crowd, Wade smiled, and reality just hit LeBron James. You can tell James had a million thoughts going through his head. His thoughts ranged from this is great, to this is too much, to I made a mistake, to I'm making history, to the show was awful, to I could seriously win multiple titles, to I could seriously win zero, to Dan Gilbert is a douche, etc.
That was back in July. Now the Miami Heat are a team hovering around .500 with the haters rejoicing a bit too early and the fans in a state of panic. This of course does not apply to all people, but many are loving this and others are feeling a bit insecure about the situation. Some fans are calling for Coach Spoelstra's head. They say the team has tuned him out. They say only Pat Riley can save this team. They say the system does not work. They say LeBron and Wade's games are too similar to each other. They say Bosh is soft. Others claim this team never had a chance.
Let's hold on just for one second. There is only one reason for the Miami Heat's struggles. There is only one ultimate truth to why this team is not where it is supposed to be. It may be obvious to some, so I probably won't shock anyone, but this team is not focused. How can one honestly believe that a team featuring 3 of the top 15 players in the NBA would be clawing to stay above .500 at this point in the season? It is simply unfathomable that Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James should not easily win 60+ games and a couple of NBA titles, at least.
Let's get some things clear. It's early, really early. The Heat have not been whole the entire season. Mike Miller, arguably their fourth best player, has yet to play with this group in the regular season. It would be foolish to under estimate how much Miller could possibly help this team. Miller is a great shooter, but he also has above average ball handling skills for his size. Miller can pass the ball pretty well, take his man off the dribble, and is a smart defender even if he lacks great athleticism. Take away the 4th best player from almost any contender and they are not the same team. Take Ray Allen or KG from the Celtics and they won't win the title. Take away Lamar Odom or Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and they won't win the title. The Lakers and the Celtics are arguably the two best teams in each of their respective conferences right now. But even the with the Orlando Magic, I'm sure you take away Rashard Lewis or Vince Carter for an extended stretch, it will hurt them at some point. Now the heart and soul of the Heat, Udonis Haslem, is out indefinitely. Injuries are hitting this team hard because it involves key players.
The Miami Heat are a new team. They have plenty of new players this year so a lack of chemistry at this point is not inexcusable. James, Bosh, Howard, Big Z, Miller, and House are all currently part of the rotation. Each of those players are new to this team. Now with Erik Dampier coming in, a player I assume will get playing time because of the Heat's need for size, there is another guy who has to learn a new system and his new teammates.
The other part of the equation here is that this team is a team in process. The Heat are relatively old when you go through the whole roster. Howard, Big Z, and Dampier are all 35 or older. The Heat do have plenty of youth, but their designated centers are simply too old to keep up with the younger and more athletic big men this league has to offer. They are also undersized in the middle, with a lack of size and muscle being very evident until Dampier was signed. Still, one must understand that by process, it not only means this team will take time to mesh, but also that Riley is clearly not done building. Expect him to put a couple of finishing touches to the roster by next summer.
The reality is the players seem confused out there, and there is too much ball domination instead of actually running sophisticated offensive plays. The rotation is a mess, and the heat are often over matched at the PG and C positions. The defense leaves players wide open every other possession which impedes most Heat runs. Yet, even with this, it still is a bit mind boggling how the Heat are not blowing teams out of the water most games. I can point out a million flaws with this team, and I don't mean roster wise, I have established that this team is still crazy talented.
Now back to the main point, focus. I recently saw an old MJ commercial that just made me think about something very important. We see LeBron James and there is no denying his talent. The same goes Wade. The same even goes for Bosh. The Jordan commercial had him saying that basically because he was so great and made the game look so easy, people took the game for granted. He reminded us all that he worked hard every single day of his career to be great. He finishes the commercial by saying "maybe I ruined the game, or maybe your just making excuses." I feel that is something the stars on this Miami team must really take to heart. They are where they are because they gave their life to this game. When we were all kids, we all played this game for what? Money? No way, we played it because we just loved it. I play it because I'm competitive, and because I love winning.
The stars must focus. When I say focus, I mean play with heart, passion, respect for the game, and most importantly, with anger. Jordan played with an angry competitive nature unseen by any player in the history of the NBA. He gave it his all each and every night. He wanted to win every game because he just hated losing. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in particular need to hate, with a passion, losing. They need to see their opponent and the man who is guarding them and play with fire. They must make their opponent fear them, because Wade and James are better than them, and they know it. Now they must show it. This team does not need or deserve excuses even with all the stuff they are going through. These guys are the best in the business for a reason. LeBron and Wade have to stop expecting that the opponent will just give up. They have to stop talking to the media and saying they know what is going on, when on the court, they play with no desire to truly dominate on both ends of the floor. They have to want to dominate, to actually dominate. This is the NBA, and the Heat are hated, so that means they are going to get a professional NBA team's best shot every time.
The Miami Heat as a team are very talented. Still, this team will live and die with Wade and LeBron. No longer, can they sit there as a team or even as individuals, and expect to be legendary. The championship will not be gift wrapped to them this season or any season beyond. The Lakers won't give it up without a fight, and the Celtics want another shot at it. No more talk, no more complaining to the referees, no more laziness, no more letting a bunch of nobodies have career games against you. Stop telling everyone they must wait for you to dominate even if we have too, JUST DO IT.