You heard it right after LeBron James talked about where his talents were going — other older players jumped up and said they would not have done this. They would not have willingly joined forces with other superstars to chase rings.
Former NBA player and current Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin gets that.
He told the Deseret News the culture is different than when he played and says AAU basketball — the traveling high school All-Star teams that play through the summer — is the reason.
“Just thinking back in the day when I was younger in the league, superstar guys wanted to have their own show. It’s changed,” Corbin said. “These kids they grew up in AAU, being on all-star teams, and they’re used to playing with superstar guys. And they want that kind of team because … they have a chance to win big every night. They want to win championships and not have to be the only guy getting it done.”
Added Corbin: “I think it’s a change for this new generation of kid who’s used to being on these superstar teams from the AAU thing.”
So if you hate the Heat, blame AAU basketball. Which is fine, AAU gets blamed for a lot of things (the deterioration of fundamentals among younger players, isolation basketball, the lack of a midrange game in the NBA, global warming).
Also know what AAU spawned and what LeBron James did this summer resonates through the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Small market owners see what happened with Miami, what Carmelo Anthony did with Denver, and they want their control back. (If they ever had it, but that’s another story.) You see Utah trading away Deron Williams before he can even think about becoming a free agent because they believe they can’t keep him after his deal is up. Small and middle-sized market owners want the ability to keep their stars, and that is going to be a big part of the subtext of the CBA talks.
The executives who orchestrated the two biggest turnarounds in the NBA this season — Pat Riley of the Miami Heat and Gar Forman of the Chicago Bulls — will share the NBA’s Executive of the Year award.
Well, privately they probably share this about as well as two 3-year-old girls in a room with one Princess Ariel doll. But publically they will say nice things. And Riley got screwed in this vote, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
There were 30 votes from team executives (you can’t vote for yourself, insert your own Riley joke here) and both Forman and Riley got 11 votes. John Paxson of the Bulls finished third (we assume one of his votes was from the Clippers, who would like to choke Vinny Del Negro themselves).
Riley got robbed here.
Make no mistake, Forman did a fine job, he brought in coach Tom Thibodeau, which was the biggest step in the turnaround of the team. Well, that and drafting Derrick Rose, which was lottery luck. Forman also brought in Carlos Boozer and filled out the rest of a good Bulls roster.
But Riley… look, you may love to hate the Big Three, but to pull that off was a brilliant and ballsy move. He had to take huge risks, clear out loads of cap space, convince everyone to go with the plan, get them all to sign for less so that Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller could be brought in. (Okay, so Miller proves he’s not perfect.)
Riley lapped the field as executive of the year. That he didn’t win shows how other executives around the league feel about him more than anything. Watching his team jell the last couple weeks, Riley doesn’t care what they think.
It’s national “Pile on the Miami Heat Week” after Sunday’s loss to Bulls. Somehow, one of the NBA’s best teams has become seen as a crying, soft collection of overpaid talent that can’t win when it matters.
They’re doomed once the playoffs start, right?
Just like the Green Bay Packers were doomed, Matt Scribbins of Hoop Data reminds us.
Do you remember the story of the 2010-2011 Green Bay Packers? They were the trendy pre-season pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. After six weeks, their record stood at 3-3, and no one was predicting they would make the title game. They had to beat the Chicago Bears in Week 17 to even make the playoffs….
Green Bay was 2-6 in games decided by five points or less during the regular season. In the playoffs, they won three straight road games to capture the NFC Title. In the Super Bowl, they beat a team with an affinity for winning close games. Three of their playoff victories were by seven points or less. Mike McCarthy is not complaining right now about his team’s inability to win close games during the regular season. He is sitting at home reliving the moment he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy as the winning coach of Super Bowl XLV.
The tale of the Miami Heat resembles the story about Green Bay. NBA fans can’t stop talking about Miami’s record in close games and declaring them down for the count. Anyone who follows the Association knows they are 5-13 (that’s a better winning percentage than Green Bay’s 2-6 for those who are counting) in games decided by five points or less. But did you know Miami is 3-1 in games decided by six points? 3-0 in games decided by seven points? How about 4-1 in games decided by eight points?
The Heat keep losing close games — but those are close games. We’re talking about a made shot or two, one more stop and the outcome is different. Small fixes, little tweaks in execution.
LeBron James is taking the brunt of this, but as our own John Krolik points out over at ESPN, what LeBron does in the regular season and what happens in the playoffs don’t often correspond. His best playoff performances have come after sub-par regular seasons.
This is still a contending team, a team that is 43-20 despite some injuries to important role players. They are being compared against unrealistic expectations (granted, expectations they helped bring on themselves). This team is not the disaster they seem to be painted as; they are a team that is close.
And like the Packers, those close regular season losses could be meaningless when it really matters.