Back in the day, when violence was king and Pat Riley was puppet-master, a colleague in New York warned me where the initial round of Heat-Knicks was headed.
He said he had seen it before, the way Riley could wind up players with the Knicks and have them unleash frightening fury in the name of victory.
He said P.J. Brown was at that point. He was right. Heat-Knicks was about to go all gory.
Which brings us to Tuesday’s vigilante justice at AmericanAirlines Arena and the fallout for Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman.
Based on his follow through against Tyler Hansbrough, and the fact that Udonis Haslem had never gone for a two-handed blocked shot before, his suspension for Thursday’s Game 6 against the Pacers was an unavoidable NBA ruling.
As for Pittman? Pure thuggery, to a degree worse than a punch.
So now the Heat move forward without Haslem.
And that is what really matters, that in the name of retribution, the Heat now will go into Game 6 without their best power forward (Chris Bosh) and their second-best power forward (Haslem). The timing for payback against Hansbrough couldn’t have been worse.
If Danny Granger is limited by his ankle issues, then it will be easier to simply shift LeBron James to more time at power forward.
Otherwise, Juwan Howard could make himself a factor for more than pregame antics.
And Joel Anthony might have to play more minutes, when it has become clear that he is at his best in measure minutes.
As for Eddy Curry? Not going to happen. You cannot replace suspended players on the active game-night roster.
Oh, it’s possible that on same handsomely crafted postseason video the Heat will point back to this as the moment they came together.
And perhaps it will prove to be just that in a Riley-infused locker room.
But in the game that would allow the Heat to avoid Saturday do-or-die, they will enter shorthanded, missing arguably the heart of the franchise, the player who helped seal the Heat’s previous visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
This isn’t Alonzo Mourning costing the Heat a series for his punch at Larry Johnson.
But it also hardly is a moment to be celebrate in the name of rah-rah team building.
This hurts the Heat as a basketball team.