8 Thoughts (special championship edition)
2) KJ James. For two straight days, all I could think about was what if somehow this title slips away, what if OKC comes back and wins three straight? There's no way I could watch KJ James go through that, there's no way I could watch another human being go through that, come so close to his dream, and then watch it disappear - no, I couldn't watch anyone go through that, I'd have to drink arsenic or something, because I could never watch another human being go through that (okay - maybe Kevin Garnett, I could watch him go through that)...Thankfully, no one had to. You know why? Cuz: BALL SO HARD, WE BALL SO HARD, YOU THE CHAMP, KJ, YOU DID IT BOY, YOU REALLY DID IT, YOU THE CHAMP, BOY, YOU DID IT! BALL SO HARD, BALL SO HARD, BOY!!! YEAAAAAHHHHHHHAARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!! 26 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds in an elimination game! He dominated this game by getting middle, finishing with force at the rim, and finding and trusting shooters (and did they ever deliver). Everything anyone ever wanted from KJ, he delivered in this series. He beat Kevin Durant up so bad in the post that they had to take Durant off him, and then beat up Sefalosha and Harden the same way. He lived in the lane - he was 7-38 from outside the paint in the series. That's 18%. He dominated this series without making jump shots. He had one of the greatest regular seasons anyone has ever played, and he had one of the greatest postseasons anyone has ever had. What are people going to talk about now? He's The King - (King James James - Hubeism!). He's not Dwyane in this city - no one will ever be Dwyane in this city - but he'll do.
3) Mike Mutherf*cking Mil-lar. Oh, you mutherf*cker! HE MADE 7 F*CKING TRIPLES IN AN ELIMINATION GAME EVEN THOUGH HE CAN'T WALK! HE MADE 7-8 TRIPLES!!! HE SCORED 23 POINTS!!! YOU MUTHERF*CKER!!! One game after Almario Vernard Chalmers (he's the starting point guard for the current NBA champs, you know) had a dream game with 25 points, prompting Dwyane Wade to strut down the tunnel at The Trip, live on national television, screaming at him, "Mario Mutherf*cking Chalmers! Youuu mutherf*cker!," Mil-lar, maybe, topped it. Certainly it was less expected - at least Emcee Chalmers is ambulatory. Mil-lar's four first half triples helped push Miami out to a 17 point lead. OKC was ready to go - a series of bizarre flop calls, primarily drawn by James Harden, helped temporarily keep them around, only down 10 at halftime. But Mil-lar, and the rest of the team, never stopped making threes - Mil-lar hit back-to-backers to start the fourth quarter, his 6th and 7th of the game, to push the lead to 27, and essentially end all the drama. Mil-lar made 7-8; NBA champion Almario Vernard Chalmers made 2-4; Shane Battier, who was unbelievably good this series on both ends of the court, made 3-7; Norris Cole made 1-2; and Chris Bosh (more on him in #5) hit the only three he took off a KJ drive-and-kick (they were pretty much all off KJ drive-and-kicks!) late in the third quarter to push the lead to 22, which made you think, "it can't get any better, it just can't go any better," except for a moment later Mike Mil-lar made his 5th of the game to push the lead to 25! Miami made 100 out of 100 triples in this game - you can't do any better than that, it was unbelievable!!! Wait- what? Oh: 14-26! Still - so awesome! Don't think anyone saw that coming!
4) Don't want to even write this one. I love Dwyane Wade so much. I love that man, and every time I think of him in the aftermath here, I choke up a little. I love basketball - it brings such joy into my life, I grew up with it. I shared it with my brother as kids, and now as adults. I share it with my family - M.Minutos and I have spent more time watching basketball together than doing anything else, except getting freaky between the sheets. I shared it with my best friends in high school, and in college, like GFOB Plumber, and even Celtics fans like Delaney and Web. My kids love it - okay, one of them loves it, P.Minutos could care less (but for a kid who could care less, he knows more about it than any other kid who could care less alive, since he lives in Casa Minutos - example: he looks at twitter the other day, sees my home page, and goes, "hey, Pat Riley" - he's 8). And, I share it with all "you people." Watching Dwyane Wade play basketball these past 9 seasons has been so much fun. It's not just that he has been so successful, and won two titles, and been to the Finals three times - it's also that his style of play is so exciting. He swashes buckles! He storms barns! He was great tonight, he scored 20 points, and had 8 (!) rebounds, and 3 assists, and 3 (more!) blocks, and in a game filled with plays I will always remember, he probably made my favorite: with the rout on late in the third quarter, he caught the ball in full gallop down the left side of the court with only the impossibly rude and insolent Russell Westbrook back for OKC. Everyone knew what was coming - everyone knew what was coming - and Wade looked right, across the lane, at a phantom teammate cutter, the reprehensible Westbrook leaned slightly that direction, and then Wade Euro-stepped him back to the left, Westbrook tried to grab him around the shoulders, but Wade ripped through, finished, and made the free throw for a 26 point lead with a minute left in the third quarter. Dwyane Wade won one title, in 2006, pretty much by himself; then put this team together, pretty much by himself, and won another title. That's a pretty good resume. Remember that play tonight forever, boy; love you forever, boy...
5) Chris Bosh might have been the best defensive player on the court in this series. Think about that for a second: Chris Bosh might have been the best defensive player on the court in this series. It was like he saved every ounce of aggression, energy, and effort for this one series. He has always been a guy who played defense correctly, positionally, but in this series he added a genuine passion for stopping the offensive players! If you only watched tape of this series, you'd say, "Oh, this guy is one of the better defensive players in the league, that's clear." Umm, nooooo, not exactly. Listen, it helps that OKC neither has a strong rolling threat to the basket (Perkins, Ibaka, and Collison are not great finishers, though they have other skills), nor perimeter players who are overly skilled at moving the ball to open bigs (although they are absolutely incredible scorers), so Bosh could pretty much ignore his cover and help defend OKC's wings. But he was so conscientious about it, he closed out so hard on shooters, he made such an effort to get to loose balls, and rebounds - he wasn't recognizable as Chris Bosh, he really wasn't. Tonight he was also great offensively, with OKC trying to double KJ more, he rolled to the rim, caught passes, and finished: 9-14, 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. I think it is safe to say that Miami's struggles against Indiana and Boston were primarily a function of losing Bosh early in the Pacers series (and having to adjust how they played on the fly). It is tough to remember that two different times, Miami was on the ropes: down 2-1 and 10 at half in Indiana, and down 3-2 and going to Boston. But once Bosh came back and found his legs, Miami got right. I hope that he feels incredibly proud of himself. He's a champion now.
6) Someone said this well on tv, don't remember who: OKC got outplayed in this series, but not outclassed. He meant on the court, talent-wise, and he was spot on. They walked into a tornado tonight, they got pummeled from start to finish (first basket: a thunderous KJ James tomahawk dunk in transition), but the first 4 games were very close - Miami was able to play from ahead down the stretch in most of them, and made a few more plays at key moments. I would also add that, aside from Russell Westbrook, they didn't get outclassed as people, either. I don't remember another playoff series in which I liked the opponent so much - that's mostly because I love Durant, I guess, who was as gracious as always in defeat: hugged KJ James for a long time at midcourt, and made sure to congratulate every member of the Heat. And what a scorer: even tonight, going against two of the best wing defenders in the league, he poured in 32 points on 13-24. He's one of my favorite players in this league...And I love their coach Scott Brooks, who never complained about refereeing during the series, even when he had reason to, and who conducted himself with grace and dignity on the sidelines at all times, in stark contrast to the last series, in which Boston coach Doc Rivers constantly whined about the officiating in his press conferences and during off days, and questioned every call during the games, even the ones which went Boston's way (#doucheball). With four minutes to go and the Thunder down by 60 points, Brooks pulled his starters and told his team, "when this games ends, as much as it hurts, we are going to stay out here and show respect to Miami and congratulate them on a job well done, because they beat us fair and square." As M.Minutos noted, all this was really only for Russell Westbrook's benefit - every other player would have known to do that already. Westbrook spent the waning moments of the game sulking on the bench and planning his vacation next week with Rajon Rondo to the Wisconsin Dells, in which they sit in their hotel room, pout, and watch movies for 10 days (#TeamEdward). Westbrook aside, I love this team, and they will be back. As pure scorers, this team is unparalleled - they don't even really run sets, they mostly just ask Durant, Westbrook, and Harden to individually break down their guys over and over. Miami's a better defensive team - they made it just tough enough on those guys to win the series.
7) To all the people who said: "This can't work - KJ and Dwyane Wade don't fit together," I say, as I have contended all along, you are ridiculous. First of all, they were the best team last year - they already showed it can work. They didn't lose last year because the parts didn't fit - they lost because they played poorly in the last five minutes of games for a week. How you could watch a team get that close to a championship and conclude, "oh, see - this can't work?" I mean, that's one of the basic problems with us as humans - so many idiots. As I've said many times before, the main similarity between Dwyane and KJ is that they both do everything well. Which means that all you have to do is find role players who can do anything well, and Dwyane and KJ can take care of the rest. Makes it slightly easier than the OKC model where Durant only does one thing great (score - and he is great) - that means you have to find other guys to do the things he can't do: defend, rebound, move the ball. If anything, this series showed that the gap between KJ and KD (if KD is the next best player in the league) is wider than even reasonable people thought. I love KD, but they had to take him off KJ because he couldn't guard him, and kept getting into foul trouble trying to. And he didn't rebound - grabbed 11 tonight to push his average to 6 for the series (by the way, he's 7 feet tall). KJ averaged 10 boards a game, and also 7 assists (KD 2 per game). KJ James is better. And all these people, these absurd so-called experts who don't make any effort to understand what is actually going on in a basketball game (Bucher, and Wilbon, and Simmons, and Barry, and blah, and blah, blah), and who analyze players by citing "the will to win," and the "fire in a player's eyes" - congratulations: you were wrong. And you made America a little dumber for the past couple of years, which, by the way, is a pretty big accomplishment, not that easy to do. In the end, the people who really know about basketball is a pretty short list: it's only Jeff Van Gundy, Stephen A Smith, and me. Okay: it's just Stephen A. Smith.
8) I wrote the following post the day of Game 6 versus Boston, which I assumed we would lose, ending our season, because I always assume we will lose every playoff game we play in. The story really happened that day, not today, and all the sentiments still hold true. Oh, and yes, by writing this season-ending post in advance, I absolutely reverse-jinxed us into a championship, just as I reversed jinxed KJ James onto the Heat two summers ago by asserting that "he is not welcome here." When I started this blog four seasons ago, it was really just to document the second halves of the careers of Dwyane, Udonis, and myself - we're all going out together you know, when they're done, I'm done - I didn't know I was going to cause us to win another championship...You're welcome, Heat fans - I reverse-jinxed this title for you...
I had a meeting in downtown Boynton Beach today. Oh, what was it about? Basically, how to ball so hard...Anyways, after the meeting I was near one of O. and P.Minutos' favorite pizza joints, so I called Casa Minutos and told the fam I would bring home pizza, went inside, ordered, then went for a little walk in the neighborhood while waiting for the 'za. Stopped in at a Starbucks to get some iced coffee - somehow, out of iced coffee, so they gave me a free iced Cafe Americano and a gift certificate for a free drink next time when they assumed they would have, you know, coffee. Ch-ch-ch-ching! So I continued walking down the street, and as I walked by a Blockbuster (one of the few remaining!) a Range Rover pulled up on the curb and a dude with a rolled down window leaned out with a DVD and was like, "Hey, could you drop this in the slot for me?" Nothing I love more than helping other people, so I was like, "yes, I can," and I gladly took the movie. It was Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. If there is anything I love more than helping other people, it's chit-chatting with strangers, so I was like, "oh, how did you like this," and the guy was like, "it was pretty good, I really enjoyed it," and I was like, "how was Ryan Reynolds," and he was like, "not as great as Ryan Gosling would have been, but still outstanding - really good actor!" By the way, that guy in the Range Rover? My friend Thor...Which reminds me, thanks to all the GFOBs (Great Friends of The Blog) this year. We have the coolest readers - they read, they write in, they substitute for me when I'm on vacation (thanks Snets!), they give us ideas of topics to write about, they text during games that I'm not even watching yet since I'm dvr'ing and spoil the outcome, they even bring me to the games (thanks A.H.Minutos)! So, so good! In a weird, little dorky way, it is so much fun to write this blog, and then get feedback, whether positive ("made me laugh"), or negative ("you're an idiot"). Not sure if the blog will be back next year. It has been four seasons now, and that's a lot - a lot - of writing about basketball. The problem really isn't even the writing: it's all the watching, and then the writing. Hours and hours and hours of time spent on the project. By the close of the season, again, I'm toast and praying for the end. Yet, somehow, by the start of the next season, I am always fired up to write again. So, we'll see. Either way: thank you all for the support!
No more games!!! If you need me before the next one, I'll be doing nothing!!! Love you all!!! Champs!