In the aftermath of another epic collapse down the stretch by the Heat last night, I got to thinking about why the Heat can't seem to mesh properly. The team is absolutely loaded with talent, devoid of a serious power struggle between the best players (there really isn't much of a struggle here, mainly due to James' submissive personality), and plays its best basketball on the defensive side of the hoop, which leads to their explosive fast break capabilities. So why don't they mesh?
I have a theory, and it's very simple: The team has the wrong players around it to succeed.
If I am Pat Riley, I would sit my executives, owners, coaches and everyone involved with the team, and deliver this brilliant speech, in the same manner that Billy Beane did in "Moneyball:" (note: this only applies if the Heat do NOT win the title. If they do, stop reading now.)
* * * *
"Gentleman, I have gathered you here today to discuss the current state of affairs in our locker room. Our team is fresh off another year with no title, another year of heightened expectations crashing down upon us. Any ideas on how to fix this?"
(smattering of comments. "Trade Wade?" one idiot mumbles. He is immediately thrown out of the meeting).
"You know what I'm hearing, or in this case, not hearing, gentlemen? I'm hearing a lot of 'yesterday' talk. Today is not yesterday. Yesterday, we were the title favorites, fresh off landing the two biggest free agents in the league in one summer. Those days are gone. We are beatable, we've proven that two years in a row. We need some people to think outside the box -- someone to think in a way we haven't thought before. If we think like the rest of the league, as we have been, we will be beaten by the league."
(here, Pat Riley would stand up, slam his hands on the table, causing everyone to look. He would face the other direction, pace back and forth in front of the room for a minute, and simply say:)
"Well? Does anyone know what we should do?"
(at this point, some no-name intern, who has been sitting quietly in the back, raises his hand meekly.)
"Well son? What do you have?" Riley barks at him.
The intern slowly stands, and says: "We should make LeBron the point guard," before sitting back down.
(the silence in the room is immediately shattered with uproarious laughter. "A 6'9'' man playing point guard? Who ever heard of such a thing?" one member of the room who clearly has a short memory of point guards in the NBA jokes.)
Riley mulls this over. He stands up, folds his arms across his chest and looks right at the intern. "And what else should we do?"
(the rest of the room is stunned that Riley is even considering this.)
The intern stands up, a bit more confidently, and says: "LeBron WANTS to be a distributor. We see it in every game, inevitably LeBron starts bringing the ball upcourt and making plays. If we keep our core, Wade, LeBron and Bosh, all we need are 3 individuals, with whom our team will be unbeatable."
Riley looks him over once, and then again. "And who are these three individuals?"
The intern smiles and begins. "Like I said before, we keep James, Wade and Bosh. James plays the 1 position, Wade the 2, and Bosh the 4. The first player we need to acquire is Steve Novak, from the Knicks. Novak shot an absurd 47.2% from the three point line last season. He is only 28, and essentially can replace Mike Miller as our team's three point specialist. He can either start at the 3 position, or come off the bench. Either way, he is an instant upgrade to our biggest hole in the postseason: outside shooting. He provides an outlet to drive and dish opportunities for the two best slashers in the league. The next player we need to get is Roy Hibbert, the 7'2'' monster from Indiana. He killed us in the playoffs, and the reason he was able to do so is pretty simple: we have NO INTERIOR DEFENSE. Our best enforcer in the paint is Joel fricken Anthony. That is another clear upgrade, and one that would immediately make our team a lot better. He would obviously start at the 5 position. And the final player we need to acquire is Danny Green, from the Spurs. He's an excellent on-ball defender, and can shoot from the outside as well. He would start if Novak sits, and vice-versa. As for the current roster, blow it up. Keep only Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers. Everyone else should be released."
An eerie quiet settles over the room. People look around at each other, realizing that the intern is right. Eventually, Pat Riley says: "You heard the man. Get it done."
* * * *
I understand that this is basically impossible, but the theory is true. If this happened, I bet LeBron would make good on his promise of not one, not two, not three, not four championships!