Joel Anthony: The Miami Heat's Caped Canadian Crusader?

Brett Napier@brett_napsContributor IIIMay 3, 2011

Joel Anthony. Simply automatic from the line.
Joel Anthony. Simply automatic from the line.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Okay well, maybe that is pushing the boundaries. He's certainly not Batman, he isn't Robin and he lacks the qualifications needed to make Alfred the Butler, but Joel Anthony is every bit the superhero for the Miami Heat.

Sure, he isn't battling the bad guys in some eccentric outer space battle with lasers and explosions. He's the one rescuing cats from trees, or helping old ladies across the street. Where am I going with these annoying and, albeit, crappy analogies? Quite simply, Joel Anthony does the little things.

He blocks shots, he sets screens, and his hustle on pick and roll defense is a thing of beauty. He is the defensive anchor in the paint for the superb Miami defense. He is Mr. Everywhere out on the court.

There is no coincidence that he receives the MVP chants at the free-throw line. He is the epitome of the blue collar player.

Undrafted out of the UNLV, Joel was always the underdog. He managed to snag a spot on the Miami Heat roster in 2007, and fought like hell to keep it. He was always the first to training, and the last to leave.

In a summer where all eyes were fixed firmly on the large and lucrative contracts of the Big Three, Joel Anthony happily and discreetly signed a respectable $18 million contract over five years, a testament to where hard work and determination can lead you.

He definitely won't carry the load offensively, and any time he scores a bucket some may say it is by accident, but that doesn't bother him. He is even improving in that regard, growing more confident as each game goes by. Philadelphia knows this, as Joel "Ice-Man in the Clutch" Anthony nailed those two free throws at the end of Game 5 to close the series.

Joel Anthony is finally getting the attention he deserves. Players are now looking to see if the big bad Canadian is lurking in the paint. The fans are chanting his name, and respecting what he brings to this team. And frankly? I'm loving it.

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