Last night, NBA basketball was the talk of the town for a variety of reasons that could have been discussed from the View to ESPN.
There was the story of Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay player to suit up in a professional basketball game, the 238-point shootout between the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, Greg Oden’s first start in over four years and Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade’s big games in the absence of LeBron James and his busted nose.
But in the midst of all of that, a little fact went missing from the ledger. And no I do not mean Dale Earnhardt Jr. shaking his 55-race losing streak to win the Daytona 500 for the for the first time in 10 years.
It was a quote from Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra — to Doris Burke — that epitomized what point guard Mario Chalmers has meant to the team:
“We’ve been running the offense through him [and] we needed it tonight clearly with Lebron out. I don’t know if I’m gonna take him out of this game.”
And after that quote, the coach actually didn’t take him out until about 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter — because he couldn’t.
Chalmers was a master of the pick-and-roll, putting the ball exactly at the rim for alley oops and on his players’ shooting hands for open jumpers. He also showed why he’s in the top 10 in the NBA in steals by anchoring a defense that pestered a 0-for-10 D.J. Augustin and his Chicago Bulls into seven 24-second shot clock violations.
Yes, this is the same guy critics claim can’t be a championship point guard, although he sports two championship rings. The same guy who gets no credit because he often drifts into bone-headed plays that turn him into such a huge punching bag that President Obama recently joked about yelling at him.
However, Chalmers is the one who usually steps up big when it’s needed. That’s why he has two signature games in the last two NBA Finals — when LeBron cramped up against the Oklahoma City Thunder and disappeared against the San Antonio Spurs. Which is why it is still baffling when Spoelstra sits him for an iffy Norris Cole.
Either way, there’s no denying that Mario and Miami are a perfect fit for each other, regardless of what outsiders think.