Fire Erik Spoelstra. Trade Dwyane Wade.
Get Dwight Howard. Summon Pat Riley. Criticize LeBron James.
If you do not remember, that’s what the television, the radio, the newspapers, the magazines, the fans, the doubters all said about three weeks ago after the Miami Heat had dropped Game 5 to the Boston Celtics. But now, seven games, six wins and one NBA tile later, those sentiments have been silenced.
Everything has changed … for now.
For now, the critics can lay off LeBron James. He is no longer a mediocre jump-shooter with no mental toughness and no fourth quarter. He is now a king with a crown, a relentless assault on the rim and the paint, a ring, a cramped left leg, a trophy, a low-post game and respect.
For now, the critics can stop writing off Erik Spoelstra. He is no longer the young baby-faced coach who had to grab a rack of balls and watch his stars make him look good. He is now an admired Riley disciple, a skilled tactician that outsmarted Scott Brooks, a wizard of small ball and, yes, still a baby-face coach.
For now, all the critics in Bristol, New York, Indianapolis, Boston and Oklahoma City have been quieted. But that will not last for long.
With his first title, James instantly climbed past Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor and John Stockton on the historical ladder. The monkey is off his back, but the 600-pound gorilla still sits in the corner.
If this is the final title James wins, he will still be viewed as a failure. The Heat, after all, did not have to face a Derrick Rose-led Chicago Bulls squad, a team that finished as the top team in the Eastern Conference.
LeBron will still be five titles behind Michael Jordan and four back of Kobe Bryant. This team was not built to win a championship — it was built to win championships.
This Heat team was meant to be a dynasty, and one championship does not a dynasty make. Look at the Boston Celtics and their now-old and grizzled Big Three. They won one single title, giving hard-working vets their first sip of champagne but failed to dominate the league as once envisioned. They did not come together with as much hoopla as Miami did
but their goal was the same.
The only reason the Celtics are not viewed as failures right now? People are too busy with the Miami Heat.
Next year, the media will continue to busy themselves with the Heat. The pressure, along with the
criticism will return as Miami readies to defend their title. LeBron’s every move will be picked apart and dissected. Spoelstra’s every substitution and starting lineup will be examined.
The circus will return to Miami.
So for now, everything is different. But come next year, nothing will have changed.