When LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, critics decried the end of competitive balance. Many proclaimed the Heat would roll to a championship, defacing what had once been an honor that went to a team that earned it through grit and hard work.
What happened? Miami lost in the Finals.
Most NBA champions lose a heartbreaking playoff series beyond the first round before they win a title, and I don’t think that’s coincidence.
Winning an NBA title take an extreme devotion and focus that many players can never summon. For many of those who can, it’s not automatic, but a tough playoff loss can be the necessary motivation.
Part of that is a product of the teams that win titles being good enough to advance in the playoffs in the first place. Part of that is surely me crafting a narrative to fit the facts.
Still, I believe a difficult playoff loss is often a seminal step toward winning a championship.
The Knicks, who lost to the Pacers in the Eastern Conference
finals semifinals round last season, have that playoff loss. Carmelo Anthony on that series, via Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
“I’m not over it. I’m not over it,” Anthony said. “I might act like it’s over but I’m not over it, not at all.”
Unfortunately for the Knicks, they have more problems than motivation.Jason Kidd, who facilitated the ball movement that really made their offense click last season, is coaching Brooklyn. Their defense is below average. Amar’e Stoudemire can’t get healthy.The Bulls, with Derrick Rose, are better than last season. The Nets, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, should be better than last season. The Heat and Pacers could take small steps back from last season, but they have room to do so and remain better than New York.At least Melo can likely find another playoff series to motivate him for the 2014-15 season.