Can it work in Miami?
Wow, what a cliffhanger.
I was personally hoping for LeBron to hand out roses to the team owners that he didn’t sign with (and was secretly hoping that Kanye would show up right at the last second and say ‘LeBron, Imma let you finish, but Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time!’).
It was quite the night of TV drama. I especially liked the part when Dan Gilbert showed up right at the very end of the episode and set himself up as a crazy person on a personal mission of Comic Sans destruction for next season.
That letter read like something Ben Linus would have written, except he would have used a better font.
And it would have been written better.
And he would have said that Cavs fans will actually need to die.
You know what? That’s not fair. I’m sorry. What I mean to say is that, to me, that letter read like it was written from a state of heightened emotion and frustration, and while he’s 100% entitled to be disappointed, I don’t think that letter should have ever left his office. It’s dirty, it’s highly unprofessional and it throws away any high ground that the Cavs may have had in this.
I feel like this whole thing turned into a circus – what a surprise – and no one was going to come out it clean (not LeBron, not ESPN or the rest of the press, not Dan Gilbert, not Pat Riley or the Heat, not even Jim Gray). To throw yourself in as a symbol of the inevitable LeBron backlash is a complicated place to be as an owner of a professional basketball team.
As far as the decision itself, I agree with the consensus that there was a fuller team available in Chicago, but he clearly had his reasons to go to Miami and made his decision based on that, fully knowing that it was going to mean having to take less money or do it. For all the flaws about how last night went down, when was the last time you saw an athlete do that?
So now the question is ‘will it work?’
What can Miami do with a very limited budget and a ton of empty roster slots to fill? The assumption is that no three players can take a collection of minimum or low salary guys and win a championship.
I’m going to ignore the ‘Boston Celtics 2008′ argument, because I think this is a different scenario (better teams in the Eastern Conference now, the Heat will have a bigger target on their backs, etc.).
Instead, I felt the best way to explore this – from a scientific standpoint – was to turn on my XBox 360.
That’s right bitches, forget all that punditry silliness, let’s open a beer and play this out in a video game.
I loaded up a game featuring the Lakers vs. Heat and set it as a championship deciding game. I gave the Lakers their full title winning roster, and then loaded James, Bosh and Wade onto the Heat. I held onto Mario Chalmers, who is currently the only other guys committed to playing with the Heat next year.
After that, I filled out the Heat roster with currently available free agents who I feel are at or close to minimum salary levels (Joel Przybilla, Ronnie Brewer, Luke Ridnour, Johan Petro and Mike Miller). I ignored any salary cap implications, because remember you can always sign minimum salary guys to fill out your roster with no impact on the cap.
Oh… and I set up a trade for a one-year deal with a 6’6″ Shooting Guard from the Utah Jazz named Dan Jepperson.
The Heat needed a SG after I decided that Wade would move to the point. It was just a one year deal, and I set it up so that I would take a minimum salary. It’s all on the up and up. I’m just trying to help.
So, here are the line ups:
Here’s how it played out:
The game started out as you’d expect. The Lakers came out strong, fighting for rebounds and running their offense. It was pretty clear that this would be a battle of conflicting energies. The Lakers were all about banging out offense and fighting for the rebound.
The Heat, in contrast, were all about running and defending the ball before it gets into the paint.
Coach Riley (You do know he’ll be coaching this team, right?) decided that he needed to put his best defender (Me) on Kobe. I was absolutely ready for this challenge. He may have got a couple breaks early on after some off ball screens, but soon, I asserted my will…
Total, fundamental collapse of Laker game strategy.
I put the hurt on Kobe (and I mean the Hurt y’all), Wade shut Fisher down, Bosh kept nabbing the ball on its way into Gasol and LeBron played defense like his jersey was on fire (by the way… seriously? They burned his jersey in Cleveland? Really? Like ‘Really’ really?).
On the offensive side, the Lakers just. could. not. stop the drive. The Heat ran and ran and ran, and Kobe was helpless to stop it. (tee hee)
The Heat opened the 2nd half with a 18-4 run, then a 16-6 run, then 10-0 run.
The Lakers focused on the three point shot, and couldn’t get it going. They finished the game 2 for 13 behind the three point line, and only 31.7% from the field.
Meanwhile, the Heat finished with 80% from the field and 34 rebounds to the Lakers 13, while dishing out 20 assists to the Lakers 10.
James finished with 24 points, Wade with 22, Bosh with 19, and Jepperson got… 24 points.
I was in the zone… I dished out 9 assists too. It wasn’t like I was a ball hog.
Final score: Lakers 44 – Heat 101.
Okay, maybe I should have played on a higher level of difficulty, but I still think my point is made.