Tonight is Game 5, and it’s shaping up to be the final game of the series. The Miami Heat are being completely outplayed by the San Antonio Spurs in practically every aspect, even with the Heat having the best player on the planet at their disposal. Lebron James has provided the type of play one would expect from him — with a few hiccups here and there — but has still managed to maintain his status as the best in the game.
A year ago, these two Goliaths collided in the NBA Finals and with a lot of luck –mixed with a reasonable amount of skill — the Heat pulled off the victory for the Big 3’s second NBA Championship together. This year, lady luck doesn’t seem to favor the glitz and glamour of Miami, opting instead for the safe and mundane lights of San Antonio. This was the matchup I most feared going into the playoffs, knowing that if the Heat were to meet up with the Spurs again, it would spell disaster. I never thought I would be feeling that were James to lose a Finals at this stage of his career, it may actually be the most beneficial thing to him right now.
I am a James fan, I have been since I was in middle school when his legend was building as a high school player, as he was dominating everyone in his path. I thought he was exciting, talented and had legitimate potential to be that next Michael Jordan type player. I knew then what I know now — there will never be another Jordan, and not even James can come close to succeeding His Royal Airness, but that doesn’t stop me from rooting for my favorite player to do well and to come as close as humanly possible to “God disguised as Michael Jordan.” James losing this series hurts his legacy, maybe not much in the long run, but certainly enough to tarnish it slightly.
Ever since the 2011 Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat and James have dominated the competition, winning two titles and asserting their greatness. They’ve had short term stumbles, but nothing fully capable of causing fans to question the team’s abilities or legacies. The world hasn’t been handed to them, they’ve just mightily taken it for themselves at every turn. Now, their hands are reaching out to forcefully take what is theirs and is being slapped away by a monster stronger — or at the very least more determined — than they are.
A loss in these Finals would spark the end of the Heat as we know them. Personally, I think they need to keep James and Chris Bosh, have them heavily restructure their contracts in the negotiations that will take place when they inevitably opt out of their current contracts, and force Dwyane Wade to retire.
While I’m a fan of Wade, his health is too much of a concern throughout the entirety of every season. He’s spectacular when he’s healthy and ready to go, but he’s a liability the rest of the time, costing the team way too much in cap space. What they need to do is pay James and Bosh around $10-12 million a year, bring in someone like Kevin Love at the same or even lower rate, and then get stellar role players to fill out the rest of the roster, but I know that’s easier said than done.
Bringing in Carmelo Anthony would be a detriment rather than anything else, as he’s a defensive liability all game every game, and he needs the ball in his hands far too often for things to work. James may be one of the best passers in the game, wanting to assist more than score, but putting Anthony on the court with James throughout an NBA season would just end the same it does for Anthony every year, with them missing out on the title.
The Heat losing these Finals would cause James and co. to take things more seriously again, to be reminded that they have to give their all in order to win a championship; it may even cause James to leave for somewhere that already possesses that mentality.