If Miami Heat fandom were measured in Scientological verbiage, my Heat-Thetan levels would be off the audit charts. After victories I wallow in post-game interviews, podcasts and NBA filtered Twitter. After defeats, my self-enforced blackouts mirror the regimen of Dwyane Wade recovering from a migraine, as described by Tony Fiorentino. In short, I, like the average fan, think of myself as a little above average in all matters Heat.
The average fan’s exaggerated sense of awareness about their teams is understandably of great irritation to those whose job it is to be truly informed on the matter, local beat writers. I follow and mostly read them all. Main drawback is that when Josh McRoberts is listed questionable for a game by Spoelstra at midday, my Twitter feed reacts as though a Kardashian has tested positive for pubic crab lice on live TV.
Ethan Skolnick is the Miami Herald’s beat writer covering the Heat, is very accessible on social media and hosts a radio show. For me, his likability outweighs his lefty politics [depressingly par for the NBA course]. I get perverse pleasure from the fact that he cannot help but constantly remind his readers and listeners that most things they believe about the NBA and Miami Heat are wrong. Sometimes it feels as though we are just one synthetic drug use away from hearing the TRUTH about the NBA from Skolnick, but its not something I root for since he’s got a youngin at home.
In a recent column, Skolnick got wind[hourst] of Heat fans frolicking in Northeast Ohio schadenfreude and was determined to nip it in the bud, an excerpt.
For reeling Heat fans, especially the most active on social media, there was a welcome distraction this week: the seeming chaos in Cleveland….
[JC: Skolnick then lists every problem the Heat have encountered since the day Lewis Schaffel was born through Deng’s eye poke and indexed each incident by year]….
So catch yourself before laughing too hard at Cleveland.
So it is with proponents of Nanny State politics. Inappropriate fun was detected and the offenders chastised. Their demagogic hero no doubt would approve of the efforts to promote the ‘right kind of cheering.’ Its kinda like being on the ‘right side of history.’
A little perspective. The Heat are going through a very bad stretch with many road games and injuries. Then, in the midst of our gloom, the basketball gods saw fit to throw us a rather large bone.
The franchise we most wish ill is showing structural cracks. LeBron James just got his coach fired, while pretending otherwise. Comical after he undermined the rookie coach to the point that only the corpse remained to be moved in year two. Blatt was moved for yet another rookie coach, who was part of the Blatt attack. The Love trade and subsequent max deal, is now seen as a mistake as Wiggins develops nicely under a rookie contract. The conflict with James business interests, through his best friend agent, vs what is best for the Cavaliers team have been exposed by the Thompson signing and Jackson overtures.
I thought it would take a James injury and/or the inevitable Irving re-injury [a Rose by any other name …] to see Cleveland’s championship window start to close. This way is way better.
So, no Ethan, I don’t think we will be ‘catching ourselves’ anytime soon. Pending improved health, Dragic channeling a Tony Montana mindset and a consistent Green 3-point shot, James failure to deliver for Northeast Ohio will do just fine.
Don’t worry about Cavs, Miami Heat has own issues to fix
By Ethan J. Skolnick – firstname.lastname@example.org – CHICAGO
For reeling Heat fans, especially the most active on social media, there was a welcome distraction this week: the seeming chaos in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers’ coaching change was a source of great glee to the crew calling itself #TeamPetty, not because of animus toward David Blatt, but because of the distinction it drew between the team for which LeBron James now plays, and the one that employed him from the summer of 2010 through 2014.
It’s understandable to be proud of the Heat’s stability, with just three coaching changes in 21 years compared to six changes in the 11 years of Dan Gilbert’s Cavaliers stewardship. Just as it’s understandable to appreciate how the Heat, at every level, defused rather than ignited controversy during its own Big Three era — deadbolting steel doors to safeguard sensitive info rather than slipping it to reporters through a peephole.
Still, for Heat supporters, that’s still a mere sideshow.
No, none of what’s happening now in Cleveland happened in Miami, and it’s unlikely any of this would happen in Miami. But what matters is what is actually happening in Miami.
That shouldn’t get lost in the chuckles.
The Heat, and its fans, would love to have Cleveland’s troubles.
For all of the hyperventilation about the Cavaliers’ dysfunction, Tyronn Lue’s crew entered Sunday’s play a full eight games, and seven seeds, ahead of the Heat in the Eastern Conference. And although Miami has been ravaged by injuries of late, its five starters have still missed fewer games combined (20) than the 26 that Kyrie Irving has missed for Cleveland.
Maybe the Cavaliers’ house is disheveled but, as far as this season goes, the Heat’s is closer to condemned. With Monday’s rough road date in Chicago looming, the Heat is now 23-21, which gives Miami a 60-66 record since James left. Although that’s not nearly as woeful as the Cavaliers were while James was playing for the Heat — 97-215 in four seasons — it should be put in the context of what each team attempted to achieve in his absence.
The Cavaliers, however clumsily, were rebuilding.
Riley was reloading.
That’s what he does. That’s what he was more determined than ever to accomplish, after James spurned him, torched his generational team and likely extended his working years. That has been the theme of what he’s told free agents since James left, that he will not let the Heat fall on his watch. But the Heat has been falling.
That’s not to say it can’t rise back to greater relevance, even in the later stages of this season, when it starts getting some bodies back, and there was some optimism on that front at Sunday’s practice — Beno Udrih is expected back Monday, and Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Luol Deng and even Josh McRoberts may join a healing Dwyane Wade on the court by week’s end.
Nor should anyone rule out Riley retooling the Heat into a more serious contender next summer, especially now that he has time to plan, the time that James’ late notice denied him.
Still, there’s no denying how some of his reshuffling has fallen short of his lofty standards.
Josh McRoberts has played only 37 games. Danny Granger is gone from the game. Deng, whom Riley called one of the franchise’s most important signings, hasn’t looked comfortable in an altered role. Goran Dragic, who initially appeared an inspired acquisition, has been a forced fit with franchise cornerstone Wade. Amar’e Stoudemire and Gerald Green, celebrated as minimum-salary steals, have been sparingly-used, and sporadically-accurate, respectively.
Miami is now caught in a series of Catch-22s. Riley needs to trade for a shooter, but has no assets after previous deals made. Erik Spoelstra might tinker with a regular starting lineup that’s been net negative, but no reserve appears a better option. The Heat might be better off if Wade reduced his usage rate, but it’s unclear which of Miami’s collection of passive personalities would take charge if he didn’t. The Whiteside project seems a critical component for Miami’s success, but, considering his contract status, it’s quite conceivable the Heat is just developing him for someone else.
Those issues aren’t easily resolved, as the Heat tries to catch Cleveland.
So catch yourself before laughing too hard at Cleveland.