Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Heat's stars need a history lesson

The Heat's star-studded duo, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, have repeatedly shown a rather surprising disregard for basketball history.  The first instance of this occurring was while LeBron was with the Cavs, when he announced that he was switching numbers.  I still find it hilarious that he thought no one should wear Michael Jordan's number, then proceeds to switch to Bill Russell's.  Not only is it a dumb idea to suggest that the whole league should retire a jersey number, but if there was one guy in history who that would be done for it would be Bill Russell.  The first African-American coach in NBA history, he won two titles as a player-coach, and is the greatest champion in team sports history.  Of course, all those accomplishments happened on the court.  Maybe LeBron doesn't feel the need to not wear Russell's number because Russell was never the global icon that Jordan was, which is what he appears to value the most.

The second instance that occurred was at the Heat's celebration party.  You know, where they weren't celebrating winning, but celebrating three guys signing contracts.  At that non-championship championship-caliber party, Wade made a comment about the quality of the trio.  He said that they were "arguably, the best trio to ever play the game of basketball."  How does the quality of this trio compare to Jordan-Pippen-Rodman, Magic-Kareem-Worthy, Bird-McHale-Parish, West-Chamberlain-Baylor, or Shaq-Kobe-Horry?  Other possibilities include: Reed-Frazier-DeBusschere, Erving-Malone-Barkley, Jordan-Pippen-Grant, Kareem-Oscar-Dandridge, Russell-Cousy-Sharman, and Russell-Havlicek-Jones.  The advantage for the Miami trio is that they teamed up in their primes.  If you had all the aforementioned trios teaming up in their primes, Miami's may not even be top 10.  But even just comparing them to the actual production of the other trios, when they really happened, I still don't think Miami's trio is top 5.

The most recent example, of a misstep assessing history, is when James and Wade said that the Boston "Big Three" was their inspiration for coming together.  There's a major difference between the Garnett-Pierce-Allen combo and the James-Wade-Bosh combo: one group was in their prime when they did it, the other was not.  Garnett was 31 years old and in his 13th season.  Allen was 32 years old and in his 12th season.  Pierce was 30 years old and in his 10th season.  James, Wade, and Bosh were all in their 8th seasons and were 26 years old, 29 years old, and 26 years old, respectively.  The blueprint Garnett and Allen made was coming together after a decade of trying to win with other teams.  Neither Garnett, nor Allen, nor Pierce were two of the three best players in the world, when they teamed up.  Neither were Barkley, Pippen and Olajuwon, when they teamed up.  And neither were Malone or Payton, when they went to the Lakers.

The '99 Rockets, '04 Lakers, and '08 Celtics were veterans coming together to win championships.  They weren't players, at the top of their game, collaborating with their competition.  To compare the situations is misleading.  If Boston's "Big Three" were the true inspiration, they would've stuck with their teams three more years before teaming up.  But I guess that would require them having an accurate view of history.

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