The Miami Heat lost 87-86 to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. After the game, coach Erik Spoelstra said some players in the locker room were crying.
After LeBron James's Decision in the offseason, the Miami Heat were subject to increased expectations. The Boston Celtics, the last team to assemble a "Big Three" in an offseason, won an NBA championship their first year.
The Heat are not a bad basketball team. They are in third place in the Eastern Conference. But the immense pressure that comes with championship expectations has clearly affected the team.
So who are the crybabies on the Heat? Spoelstra likely won't say, so we can only guess.
How excited do you think Mike Bibby was when he first heard he was heading south to the Miami Heat from the Washington Wizards?
He probably thought he would be the starting point guard on one of the most exciting and fun teams in the NBA.
He probably didn't think he would only play 11 minutes per game.
It is unlikely he realized the pressure the team was feeling at the time.
After the Chicago game, can't you just picture Bibby breaking down in the locker room, yearning for his days with the Atlanta Hawks?
The Hawks are a good basketball team too. But, they don't have championship-level pressure on them. Bibby is now forced to become a leader on a team of stressed out stars.
Let the waterworks begin.
It is a captain's job to boost the morale of his ship. Udonis Haslem has failed to do the same for his basketball team.
Yes, Udonis Haslem is Dwyane Wade's co-captain. Now sure, Haslem is a very good role player and has tenure on the Heat, but he's not even averaging 10 points per game.
LeBron's not a captain?
Haslem is realizing that despite all the talent on the Heat, chemistry is the team's biggest problem. The pressure on the players is immense and Haslem is feeling pressure because even he knows he shouldn't be captain on this team.
Mike Miller was supposed to be the difference between "great team" and "champion" for the Heat this season.
The thinking went, "Well, they'll have to double-team Bosh, Wade and James. That will leave Miller wide open for three!"
Hasn't quite happened.
Miller is averaging less than half of his career points total (13 career PPG, only six this season) and is only playing 20 minutes per game.
Miller came to the Heat hoping to score in bunches. Now that he is realizing his role, he might be shedding tears in the locker room.
Against the Bulls, Wade went 8-of-19 from the field and had seven turnovers. Terrible numbers for the team's true leader.
Wade has been to the top of the NBA, as the MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals. He has been a member of the Miami Heat for his career.
As the team falls prey to pressure, it is Wade who feels it the most. Wade is the guy who made the Big Three flock to Miami, and Wade is the guy who needs to perform in big games.
He knows this and he knows he didn't get it done against Chicago. Viewers of the game can vividly imagine a tear coming to Wade's eye in the locker room.
All LeBron James wanted to do was go down to South Beach and play basketball with his buddies, or so the narrative goes. He didn't want the pressure of having to win by himself in Cleveland anymore.
His plan backfired.
The heat has ratcheted up this season and James and company have never felt so much pressure in their basketball lives. It's Finals or bust for this team, and every slump will be picked apart and over-analyzed.
It will never get out if James shed a tear—fans would tear him apart. But the quantity of pressure on James is greater than that of any player in NBA history.