Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This is my nightmare!

It's finally beginning to dawn on me. My NBA nightmare is looming. With two wins, the Miami Heat will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Man, would that suck. But unless the Bulls unexpectedly (and somehow legally) sign me in the next few days, there's nothing I can do to stop that from happening. It's in Chicago's hands. Hands I find less faith in with each passing game.

The Heat have figured out how to contain Rose. Kyle Korver's jump shot has been about as effective for the Bulls as drunken late-night McDonald's meals have been for my diet. Deng's been wildly inconsistent. Boozer might as well be boozing out there. The team just doesn't look impressive by any means.

What's most amazing is that the Bulls looked unbeatable in Game 1. The Heat didn't deserve to be on the same floor with them in the second half of that game. Yet Games 2 and 3 were completely the opposite. Yes, the Bulls kept it tight through three quarters, but it always felt like the Heat were in control. Like Lebron and company had the Bulls right where they wanted them.

In the closing minutes of Game 3, my buddy texted me: "Hunch: Rose is about to explode." My response: "Hunch: Miami is just gonna keep them at bay and win." At no point in the last two games have I felt otherwise.

It's safe to say we all saw this coming. Lebron's "decision" went against all conventional wisdom. We hated him for it. We turned on him. He became the enemy. But why? Because he wasn't fulfilling the prophecy as MJ's successor? The path we wanted for him. He wanted to do things his own way. He questioned the path everyone laid out for him. He saw happiness on a beach with his buddies, championship rings on all fingers. And we chastised him for it. It sounds a little ridiculous if you think about it. If we were in his position, wouldn't we want the same? What sounds better? A life with money and fame, or a life with money, fame and friends to share it with? Every one of you is taking the second option.

Maybe Jordan would have taken the first option, but Lebron's not Jordan. And maybe that's the most important thing to remember. There will never be another Michael Jordan. No way, no how. But that doesn't mean Lebron can't be great in his own way. Maybe Lebron is starting a revolution basketball needs. How many of us loved watching the Spurs and Pistons win championships on grit and fundamentals? These were the "down" years in the NBA. The seasons nobody watched. Lebron, Wade, Durant, and Rose have put life back into the game of basketball. People want to follow it again. They want to root against the enemy, watch the young stars create their own legacies, and see which teams have what it takes to call themselves champions. And I guess we have Lebron to thank for that.

When Lebron first made "The Decision" I was highly disappointed in him. But I understood why. I got where he was coming from. In the past few months, I forgot that. I think it was the way the Heat since handled themselves that led me astray. Throwing a party before they'd even stepped on a court together. Bosh's ego swelling bigger and bigger by the minute. The way they felt victimized by society. I just didn't like the act. And in all reality, I still don't. I was telling my friends earlier, every time I watch Bosh succeed or excessively celebrate, it takes every fiber in my bones not to hurl myself out a window. The guy just rubs me the wrong way. He would be nowhere (on a losing team in Toronto) without Lebron and Wade. Yet he's so cocky and over-the-top about everything.

Regardless, the fact of the matter is, Bosh, Lebron and Wade are six games away from capturing that first title together. It's all just happening so much faster than I expected. And it's a tough pill to swallow.

But with all pills come the hope for a better feeling. Maybe it's an Advil to help the headache go away. An antibiotic to cure your case of strep throat. A Percocet to ease your anxiety. Or maybe it's an NBA championship that helps you realize the legacy you're about to embark on. People didn't like MJ in his prime. As a Knicks fan, I feared the guy. I didn't want to see him become the greatest of all-time. I wanted John Starks and Patrick Ewing to shatter his dreams. It wasn't until after he retired that I truly appreciated him. It wasn't until I forgot the pain he caused me as a young Knicks fan that I began defending him in every "Who's better? MJ or Kobe" argument. And maybe that's the way it will be with Lebron -- twenty years from now when I'm recounting his battles with Carmelo and the Knicks, Durant and the Thunder, Howard and the Lakers (Yeah, I went there Orlando fans), Irving and the Cavs (justtt kidding). Maybe I won't appreciate his game until he's long gone. Maybe none of us will.

Only time will tell. Until then, my position on the Heat will likely never waver. I don't want Lebron or Bosh to a win a championship. I don't want them to have better careers than Anthony, Stoudemire or Paul. I want the championships and glory saved for my favorite team, my favorite players. After all, I'm still a sports fan.

But with that said, I think it's time I come to terms with the fact I can't stop what's about to happen. No matter how much I gripe and groan about Bosh's obnoxiousness or Lebron's arrogance, it's not gonna stop the Heat from winning a title sometime in the near future.

The Heat told us this would happen. We agreed. We tried to talk ourselves out of it. But they're still delivering.

What more can I say?