There’s a reason so many basketball fans not living in the southeastern tip of Florida give their lungs a workout rooting against the Miami Heat.
Many reasons, actually.
The franchise’s ability in 2010 to successfully lure LeBron James and Chris Bosh to South Beach, team them with Dwyane Wade and watch jersey sales skyrocket made it an entity sans gray area.
You either love or loathe the Heat, both passions burning with equal temperature readings.
Now the Big Three, currently being taken behind the NBA Finals woodshed by San Antonio, is making noise about making it a Big Four with the possible addition of Carmelo Anthony.
A few thoughts:
Go right ahead. Supplementing your roster with even more All-Star talent to acquire additional NBA titles is panic-button code for “We’re getting old, D-Wade is breaking down, Ray Allen might retire, and we’re fairly certain our coach is in over his head.”
Followers of the sport are smart. In their minds any future championships with Anthony on the Heat roster is going to detract from James’ legacy, not add to it.
The trend now is for great players to chase Michael Jordan’s six rings. Why? Because Bill Russell’s 11 are entirely out of reach, the flag atop basketball’s Mount Everest all great current players need binoculars to see.
Kobe Bryant (five) won’t retire because no matter how injury-prone he becomes because he so badly desires a sixth ring; James (two) and Wade (three) are going to continue enticing the elite free agents in dogged pursuit of it.
It’s true Jordan had Scottie Pippen to take away some of the double- and triple-teaming. Everything else revolved around precision ball movement and air-tight defense taught by a Hall of Fame coach (Phil Jackson).
LeBron is not Mike. He’s just not. And the more desperate James comes off, the truer it becomes.
Why would a defense-minded franchise architect like Miami team president Pat Riley go after Anthony, a proven liability at that end of the floor?
Should Allen, who turns 39 next month, step down, Anthony would fill that shooter’s role. Allen the past two seasons came off the bench; Anthony would no doubt start.
Riley must decide if adding a tremendous offensive asset such as Anthony is worth becoming collectively weaker when guarding the basketball.
San Antonio’s unselfish play and myriad role players should be the NBA’s blueprint for success.
Unfortunately, all those interior touch passes leading to uncontested layups don’t come close to pushing merchandise or television numbers the way a good slam dunk can.
There is something to be said for substance, which is why I’m glad the Indiana Pacers plan to stay the course and grow with their current core of young players.
No telling what Miami’s offseason plans are at this point. Riley himself might not even know.
As usual, though, it will be interesting to watch.