DETROIT – The real mystery is how the Heat even made it to the Finals in 2014. No, how did they manage to win 54 games and even qualify for the playoffs?
With a team already in a “bad marriage” while still newlyweds and being punished and pushed and otherwise abused by the organization by being forced to actually practice and – gasp – give back to the community.
How did they do it?
That season ended with Miami failing to win a third straight title, losing in the Finals in five games to a San Antonio team in the midst of one of the league’s longest running dynasties.
The season, as it would turn out, was the fourth and final year of the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh era, one in which Miami reached the Finals each year.
Now, that team is back in the spotlight thanks to a couple of players unable to accept that Miami was flat out beaten by one of the greatest teams, and coaches, in the history of the sport.
Wade comparing that team to a bad marriage and Ray Allen whining about being overworked and required to make public appearances is nothing more than two stars looking for excuses for their, and their team’s, shortcomings. Wade made 43.8 percent of his field goal attempts in the Finals while Allen shot 41.5 percent.
Wade and Allen come off as deflecting responsibility. And now we are all waiting for the next excuse – especially from the one member of that group who never lets an opportunity for a passive aggressive tweet slip by.
So what’s next? The Heat not providing marriage counseling. Or perhaps they did not arrange for drivers to chauffer their players around town.
Whatever, this is a bad look.
First, let’s take Allen, who threw Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and the entire organization under the bus by essentially blaming them for not looking out for the best interests of their players. This after they paid him $6.3 million over two years to ride out his career as a 26-minutes-per-game 3-point shooter off the bench.
Allen, while speaking to Sports Illustrated to promote his new book, said in a story published Thursday the Heat “never adjusted” to having an old team.
“We were still doing a million appearances, we still were having all the practices, and doing all the things that typically wear you down by the end of the year,” Allen said.
Players are required to make 12, one-hour appearances each season as part of the collective bargaining agreement. So Allen is complaining about something approved by the players association. For the Heat, the team’s Family Festival and Charitable Fund Gala count toward that number and if a player spends more than an hour at an event, the team will count it as multiple appearances.
One of those Galas, by the way, was held at Allen’s home. And yes, that night counted as one of Allen’s appearances. So Allen was allowed to check off one of his required appearances when he never left his home.
That’s a total of 12 hours a year to give back to the community that supports these players by spending their hard earned money on tickets and merchandise, money that has contributed to someone like Ray Allen earning $184 million during his 18-year career.
And if Allen felt worn down, perhaps he should have backed off his own meticulously planned workout regimen. Allen, who has admitted to being obsessive compulsive, was a maniacal worker who took care of his body like none other in the league, one reason for his longevity and going down as arguably the greatest pure shooter in NBA history. Part of that routine was arriving early every day, including games, and going through his own routine before practices and shootarounds.
But it was Spoelstra who wore him down.
“I don’t know if anybody has a perfect formula,” Spoelstra said, carefully choosing his words. “So we constantly tried to improve it and work on the schedule. Who knows looking back on it whether it was the right call or not. We didn’t end up winning a championship, but it was a terrific team. What an incredible run. Nothing should be taken away from that.”
Said Udonis Haslem, a team captain and the lone holdover from the Big Three era to today: “That’s Ray’s opinion.”
Wade offered his opinion when asked about the Cavaliers’ early season struggles. He believed the chemistry had eroded and compared that 2013-14 team to a “bad marriage” because the players “had been around each other four years in a row. Your jokes weren’t funny anymore to other guys. When you walked in, it wasn’t a big smile no more. Guys were just over you.”
Wade’s theory takes a big hit when you look at the opponent that season. The Spurs somehow managed to keep their marriage together for more than a decade. San Antonio’s Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili came together as a group in 2002, the year Ginobili was drafted and 12 years later they were winning a fourth title while playing in their fifth Finals.
Since when is four years the expiration date on an NBA marriage? Tell that to the Bulls or the Larry Bird Celtics or Riley’s Lakers who managed to win five titles in nine years.
“Bad marriage” or just another excuse?