The Miami Heat are SOFT
The Miami Heat may have acquired the most talented trio in the NBA over the summer, but there is growing concern about their toughness, both physical and mental, and their leadership and focus. Despite having arguably the most talented roster in the NBA and despite proclaiming themselves NBA Champions for the next 8 years, they have looked very pedestrian in the first few weeks of the NBA season.
They have been pushed around, not only in the paint which is predictable due to the fact that Chris Bosh is one of the most fragile and overrated players in the game, but just in general. Following their loss to the Utah Jazz this week, LeBron James complained about the physicality that he’s seeing from the opposition this year.
“Teams are being a little chippy with us,” James said. “We have to see how the game is being played and maybe do the same. We know what our identity is. Mentally prepared is how we are.”
Now I don’t know about you, but if you’re complaining about the physical play and have to wait weeks to adjust, that doesn’t exactly point to you being mentally prepared. But as with all things LeBron James, it is that way because he says so, not because there is anything to back it up. Now that we’re three weeks into the season he’s decided to play physical basketball? He says their identity is that of a physical team, but what have we seen to support that claim?
The fact that LeBron and Bosh whined about physical play isn’t all that surprising or noteworthy, but the fact that Dwyane Wade would stand by and watch and allow them to pout about it is surprising. The fact that Pat Riley, who he himself and his teams have always been known for the utmost physical and mental toughness would allow this to persist is surprising.
It’s not surprising, but not a lot of people will pick up on this…. LeBron James has told us repeatedly what a great leader he is and has been throughout his days with Akron Saint Vincent St. Mary’s and with the Cavaliers. Remember, with LeBron, things are the way they are because he says so and reminds you all the time… not necessarily because it’s fact. LeBron for YEARS told the media over and over again what a great leader he was with the Cavs despite little, if any evidence to support it. For those who have had even a little experience in organized sports, you will know that the best player will often get every opportunity to be the leader, but that person isn’t always a true leader. Often times a player with much lesser physical talents is the real leader of a team.
We’re seeing this right now with the Miami Heat as LeBron again tells us how much of a leader he is and how mentally tough and physical he and the team is despite little evidence to support his claims. But the true leader of the team, Udonis Haslem is making it clear to the world that he is the leader of the team (I would still consider Wade a leader at this point as well, but his friendship with LeBron and immature beahavior is troubling).
After the Heat collapsed against the Utah Jazz, Haslem was extremely upset, couldn’t sleep and stormed into Coach Spoelstra‘s office. Of course the others weren’t upset as LeBron James recorded a triple-double, Bosh actually had a good game, and Wade scored 39 points. Haslem, however was disgusted with the Heat’s loss and overall performance thus far this season. He recognized that the team is being pushed around and they struggle with physical play, strong post play and good teams in general. But for the “great leader” that LeBron James says he is, why is it that Haslem is the one taking command of the team and demanding accountability and more physical play?
Haslem made it clear that he wasn’t pointing the finger at anyone in particular, which means that he was indirectly doing just that, but that he wanted to bring back the team’s edge. I’m sorry, but if you say you’re most talented team in the history of the NBA and that you’re going to win “not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7 NBA titles, and you’re going to shatter the Bulls’ single season wins record, then why is it that it takes you 3 weeks to adjust and you need Udonis Haslem to take control of the team?
You’ll never hear anyone say it, but LeBron James, despite his incredible physical talents, is NOT a good leader, a good teammate, or tough player. As always, you can say I’m a bitter Cavs fan all you want, but the facts are the facts and I’m not the only one who sees it. A good leader doesn’t repeatedly undermine the Head Coach in front of his teammates. A good leader doesn’t take his teammates out to celebrate his MVP until 5 AM the night before a playoff game. A good leader doesn’t shoot a free throw left handed to gain attention and pity for his “injury”. A good leader doesn’t quit in the playoffs. A good leader doesn’t continually shake off the coaches’ plays and instructions. I could go on, but won’t.
LeBron has gotten away with his poor behavior, lack of mental toughness, unwillingness to learn and be coached, and lack of championship drive for the most part because he is as physically talented as anyone I’ve ever seen. Just imagine how great he would be if he had the drive, heart, and toughness of Kobe or MJ. The Heat’s problems can’t be placed squarely on LeBron as Bosh is honestly one of the most overrated and soft players in the NBA. It’s not necessarily his fault because the entire league has overrated him and the Heat signed him thinking he’s something he’s not. Wade is an outstanding player, but I’m seriously beginning to question his mental toughness and leadership which is something I never would’ve considered before. But his inability to lead this team and to get the most out of his teammates is troubling.
The Heat will end up winning 60 games in my opinion, but there are some serious issues with the team. They lack star leadership and any real leadership outside of Haslem, they have no interior presence on either side of the floor, and they are clearly afraid of physical teams. LeBron James is completely hijacking the offense as he did in Cleveland where he dribbled down the shot clock, dominated the ball and played 1 on 3, 4 or 5. He’s good enough to get away with it most of the time, but in crunch time, against good defensive teams, we’ve seen how it works. They’ll put up big numbers and big wins, but the playoffs are different. True teams win in the playoffs and the ones with star leadership advance. Right now, the Heat look nothing like a championship team.
And while they’ve completely backtracked on their 8 championship prediction to say that they’re still learning to play with each other and they aren’t a great team yet, they’ve pissed a lot of people in the NBA off. They’re going to continue to get the best out of opposing teams and now that they’ve been exposed as a soft team, they’ll continue to get pushed around. The only question at this point is whether the refs will start to bail them out by calling the games tighter. Don’t think for a minute that these comments were done partially because they’re whining about being pushed around, but partially to plant the seed in the minds of referees so that games will be called much tighter, obviously favoring the Heat.