It’s the dog days of the NBA offseason, and I’m feeling nostalgic.
In my seemingly infinite time of browsing the interwebs, I stumbled across a fairly popular video of an interview between Allen Iverson and Stephen A. Smith on Smith’s short-lived ESPN show.
A user uploaded the video with a specific portion where Smith asked Iverson about his takes on then-young guys such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.
Iverson provided the media with memorable quotes throughout his career, but he tops himself this time by seemingly predicting the hate and disdain LeBron James would receive once he made a move that wasn’t ideal in the public’s eye.
A few years later, LeBron would leave Cleveland for Miami and would be jeered in every venue he played in. This, after spending seven years as the NBA’s golden child and heir apparent with the Cavaliers.
To this day he is still being harassed by opposing fans.
Four years. Four targets. Four successes.
After weeks worth of waiting, and months worth of courting in the Miami Heat’s case, former number one pick Greg Oden has decided to sign with the Heat. The decision comes after Oden had worked out for several teams, including last year’s NBA Finals runner-up, San Antonio.
In the days leading up to the week that allowed teams to waive their players by way of the amnesty clause, it was debated in circles outside of the Miami Heat organization whether or not Mike Miller or Joel Anthony would be a recipient of their walking papers.
Let the recruiting begin.
Before the champagne dried, the Miami Heat have already received inquiries from free agents who potentially want to join the squad for another championship run in 2013-’14.
Samuel Dalembert and Chauncey Billups have both admitted to having interest in the Heat. However, with a roster chock full of veterans who are nearing their final years, the Heat could be on the lookout for a player who would have some redeeming qualities in terms of youth.
Look no further than the oft-injured Greg Oden.
Now THAT was the Miami Heat that won 27 consecutive games.
It wasn’t the dominating team that so many people replace with the team that won 27 straight. They tend to forget that many of the wins during that streak came by way of the Heat getting pushed to the brink of disaster (whether it was their one-point win over the Orlando Magic or the 27-point comeback against Cleveland) and somehow miraculously pulling out a win.
The Heat last night, turning a 94-89 deficit with 28 seconds remaining into a game that would be sent into overtime, were everything like that team. Heart-stopping, sweat and tear-inducing basketball that ends up turning a sure Heat loss into one of the most improbable victories you’ll ever end up seeing.
If I told Gregg Popovich that Tony Parker would have a game-winner, two 20-point games from Tim Duncan, unconscious shooting performances from Danny Green and Gary Neal for three consecutive games, and not one member of the Miami Heat’s ‘Big Three’ would score 20 points until Game 4, it’s safe to say that the permanent scowl etched on his face would still be there and he’d probably tell me to get off his lawn.
But he would be satisfied with it, deep down in the black crevices of his once beating heart.
But would he be satisfied with all of those circumstances working in San Antonio’s favor if it only meant a tied series through four games? Would he be pleased with a 2-2 result knowing that his Spurs have shot 50 percent or better from beyond the arc in three consecutive games?
Was there ever a time in Cleveland where it was LeBron James taking on the role of needing to be carried to victory?
After a postseason where LeBron and the Miami Heat disturbingly resembled those Cavaliers teams in certain games, it was the supporting cast that carried LeBron on their shoulders and provided him with the kerosene necessary to begin the raging fire that was Miami’s inferno in the late stages of the third quarter and early in the fourth.
Led by Mario Chalmers 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and playing his usual fearless style of basketball, the Heat utilized a dominating 30-5 run, with a 16-0 run thrown in, to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 103-84 to even up the series at one game apiece.
It’s crazy to think what this Miami Heat team is capable of when they play pressure defense and have two players, alongside LeBron James, have average offensive days.
When this team sets their mind to something and they focus for longer than a quarter, the Heat are the best team in the NBA, and arguably one of the best ever.
Because despite shooting less than 40 percent from the field and getting a fourth consecutive single-digit scoring output from Chris Bosh, it was still more than enough to come away with a 99-76 victory over an Indiana Pacers team that just looked happy to be there.
Now this is the definition of having to do it all on your own.
LeBron James was, once again, on an island of solitude as he attempted to do all he could to not only work his team back into the game, but to also encourage his teammates to not get to down on themselves for forcing him to carry a burden that was meant to be evenly distributed amongst three All-Stars.
There’s only one Heat player with the mentality and game of an All-Star at the moment, and there’s no need to establish who that is.