Perhaps LeBron James would have been more prophetic (or is that pathetic?) if he had just told America he was taking his talents SOUTH. Who knew that, when Sire James went off on his Electric Company rant- “Not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, but 7”- he was talking about wins? What was one of the biggest and most anticipated free agent signings in sports history has turned into basketball’s version of Al Capone’s vault. Just replace Geraldo with Jim Gray and a crumpled up beer can with Carlos Arroyo, and you have a match.
It has been five months since the Indecision, and I’ve been patiently waiting by the phone for ESPN to give me my hour back for watching the made-for-TV special that had as many plot twists as a Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley infomercial. The only difference between the two is that the former caused slightly more pain and burning in my stomach. You remember it, don’t you? The King and the nebbish sitting across from each other in director’s chairs. But this plot was enough to make Cecil B. Demille smash his megaphone against the wall.
The questions were suggestive: “Where is the powder?”- luckily this wasn’t Michael Ray Richardson. They were incisive: “What’s new? What’s been going on with you this summer?”- that’s nice, a Facebook conversation brought to life. There were many TMI moments: “One hand or two hands?”- use your imagination. Finally, the capper: “Are you still a nail biter?”- better that than kleptomania, right? You got the feeling at this point that Herr Gray probably did not come from The Deer Hunter school of interrogation. The only thing missing in this charade of an interview was an impromptu Rorschach Test: “OK ‘Bron, what do you see here? Uh, I’m not sure, I haven’t seen that before. Is that a championship ring?” Then, at long last, came the announcement that the world (at least the part of it with nothing better to do on a weekday night in July) wanted to hear. The one word utterance that would forever change the basketball landscape. Miami. The multi-syllabic city name still causes Clevelanders to burn brighter than the Cuyahoga River.
Nearly a quarter of the way into the season, and the Miami Thrice has begun to sink into the Atlantic. At least Crockett and Tubbs had six good years together. Every game has been documented in newspapers and progress tracked on Web sites with headlines playing off some hokey pun like “Heat Wave.” Unfotunately, now that the team is barely over .500, it seems that a two-month low pressure system settling over south Florida has put the kibosh to any Heat indexes. What about the preseason predictions made in the Internet land of 73 wins (or more)? Those were mainly predicated on the Heat making it out of the month of December with fewer than nine losses. Either the King has abdicated his throne, or the fiefs Eddie House and James Jones aren’t pulling their weight. At this rate, it won’t be a Merry Jo-el in South Beach.
Prognosticators (or crafty headline writers) should have seen this coming the minute the letters M-I-A were printed on paper. The 2010-2011 edition of the Heat have people yearning for the days of Rony Seikaly (whose shorts were always just a tad too short) and Harold Miner who was a high-flier who jumped so high that he hasn’t been spotted in 14 years. If only Baby Jordan had the benefit of foresight, he could have held a news conference back in 1995 to announce he was taking talents (at least one of them- juggling?) to Cleveland AWAY from Miami. Perhaps this is Cleveland’s revenge for Miner’s stellar 3 points per game in C-Town.
A championship was a nice thought. Homecourt advantage, a fleeting possibility. Well, no one wants to spend time indoors in Miami anyway. Basketball has become a side issue while the three-ringed circus (sadly missing the rings) has devolved into a Zapruder-esque You Tube film of LeBron walking into Coach Eric Spoelstra, knocking his jacket askew. After watching it a dozen times, you begin to realize that is Men’s Wearhouse issue. I guarantee it.
King James’ return to Ohio had the makings of an overhyped and anticlimactic showdown. The King arrived in town with a security detail that could rival that of Kim Jong Il, save for the drab-colored clothing and bifocals sported by Dear Leader. True to form, like in many previous years’ deciding playoff games, LeBron played well and the team playing the Cavaliers won.
Maybe the Duke of Hurl will work out in Miami, and the Heat will rule the NBA for the years to come (minus one lockout). Maybe my career opining as a sportswriter will work out. The more likely scenario is that I will be taking my talents to Aisle 10, there’s a mess to clean up.Google+