“In this fall, this is very tough, in this fall I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”
With that one sentence, a city that once loved NBA superstar LeBron James began to burn his jerseys, t-shirts and anything else with the number 23 on it.
He had become the second most hated man in the city, second only to Art Modell of course, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns that oversaw the move of the beloved franchise to Baltimore.
Meanwhile, 1,241 miles south of Cleveland, Miami has gone into a frenzy. The Heat have managed to land the three biggest stars of NBA free agency. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James have formed a mega team, with the goal of becoming world champions not just for this season, but for years to come.
According to bodog.com, the odds of the Heat winning are at 17/10, by far the best in the league. It would be one of the greatest shock moments in sports if the Heat were to somehow be stopped short of their goal.
It’s a sure thing, or is it?
The New York Yankees found out the hard way that building a championship team is about more than spending money and getting all the great talent available. With a payroll of $206,738,389 (yes, you read that correctly) the Yankees should roll through any team in the league.
Friday night, however, their season came to an anti-climactic end. With two outs in the ninth inning, New York’s $33 Million dollar man Alex Rodriguez took a called third strike against the Texas Rangers’ rookie closer Neftali Feliz. How much does Feliz earn a year? How about $402,000?
The Rangers have something money can’t buy: a core of hard working players that play the game in a fundamentally sound way. Their main offensive weapon is Josh Hamilton, a recovering drug addict who can’t even enjoy the champagne celebration for fear of relapse into alcoholism.
They believe in each other and have built up such trust in each other that they truly play as a team. Nobody is a star and everybody contributes. They are the definition of the word team.
So yes, on paper the Heat have the best team with all the superstars, so did the Yankees. Miami will have sold out games and a passionate fanbase, so did the Yankees. The Miami Heat expect to win the whole thing, and so did the Yankees.
When the 2010-2011 NBA basketball season kicks off don’t assume that Wade and company will be victors at the end. They play the games for a reason: just ask the Yankees.