The Miami Heat finally won its first championship since it came into the league as an expansion team more than a decade ago. They’re not my favorite team—Boston is, but they suck big time now (I wish Larry Bird would be hired by Red Auerbach to do in Bean town what he did for Indiana as Coach and later President of Basketball ops)—but I prefer Miami over Dallas. I’m happy though that Miami won, for two reasons.
The first is NOT Shaq. I don’t like Shaq—I think he’s overrated (I mean, what should you expect from someone that tall and that big? If he doesn’t score or block in the double figures and he doesn’t make you change your shot in the lane, then you didn’t get your money’s worth—for the ticket or the contract). He’s like Superman as against Batman—dude, no contest; even the colors are better on Batman (red underwear worn over blue tights, huh?).
The first reason is Dwayne Wade. Now that’s the player for me. He’s not that tall (officially 6’4”; though NBA books tend to exaggerate a little when it comes to height) but he plays BIG! He flies—to dunk or block or score in the lane; he shoots from mid-range or closer; he’s even known to take a few shots from outside the 3-point line; he rarely shows negative emotions on the court, except directed at himself and he has an almost preternatural ability to take over the game when it counts. He doesn’t mind being the last person to take the ball when it counts—regardless of glory or shame. He’s being compared to Michael Jordan—unfair, definitely, to Wade. Jordan does not compare to Wade—Jordan was largely a creation of media (fine, he dunks well and he flies but that’s probably propelled by the helium in his ego) which he manipulates quite well; also Jordan isn’t that much of a poster boy for good values. Jordan often pointed fingers at others for losses and pointed a finger at himself for wins; Wade hardly blames others for losses and usually credits others for wins. Jordan v. Wade—no contest; Wade wins, hands down—in ALL respects.
The second reason is Alonzo Mourning—Zo! He, with the unique last name. He, with the kidney transplant and the overwhelming desire to win a championship before he retired. He, who was willing to take on a supporting role in a team which he had led before he fell ill. Now, that’s character! Zo didn’t transfer back to Miami demanding things—even if the team probably would have given in to many of these—he moved back knowing he would be the oldest player on the team and a role player; now, that’s a bitter pill for a perennial starter (at Georgetown and at Miami) and a double-digit scorer and blocker. But he took the pill, knowing that he would be able to help Miami win one. And he did. In the final game, he took over from a foul-ridden Shaq and contributed his share of points, rebounds and blocks. In the end, all the trouble he went to paid off—he finally won one. And I am sure this one is the sweetest in his books.
Wade and Mourning. Two players who show good and positive values in a league dominated by an overriding concern to look out for number one--oneself; two players who display character in a league dominated by supersized egos. Wade and Mourning. Refreshing gusts of fresh air in a league that parades as its poster boy a spoiled brat like Kobe Bryant.