Will this year’s version of the Miami Heat be the best team in NBA history? According to current ESPN/ABC analyst, Jeff Van Gundy, they will outdue the Bull’s record for 72 wins in a season and have a shot at breaking the record of 33 consecutive wins, set by the Lakers in the 1971-1972 season. This will all be done on their way to capturing an NBA Title according to Van Gundy. Now I will admit, I have always been a personal fan of the wild man Jeff Van Gundy. This guy was one of my favorites when he coached the Knicks in the mid to late 90s. Those Knicks’ teams were tough and always in contention come playoff time.
And who can forget the most memorable moment of the little guy’s career, when he tried unsuccessfully to break up a fight during a 1998 playoff series between Heat star center, Alonzo Mourning, and the Knicks Larry Johnson (as displayed to the right). Also take note that no coach has ever received a higher fine than the one bestowed upon Van Gundy in May of 2005. The man had guts. The man had fire. The man generally produced a winner. But there was also a definite hint of insanity from the Yale graduate.
And today, we are hearing the insanity. Jeff truly believes that this Heat team is so much more talented than the rest of the League, that it will lose less than 10 games during the upcoming 82 game regular season. He also thinks that only 2 teams would have a prayer at taking down this mighty goliath in the playoffs, but their chances would be very slim. Maybe Van Gundy has still never fully recovered from the head trauma suffered while being on the floor during the Mourning/Johnson brawl?
You would think a man who has been coaching basketball for well over 20 years and is a “basketball expert” on television would know better. Sure talent can take teams to the pinnacle of the game at times. But this year’s Kentucky Wildcats team should be a prime example to Van Gundy and the rest of the world, that talent does not necessarily produce championships. Sure people loved to watch the Big Blue Nation Traveling Circus this year, led by the ultimate ringleader, John Calipari. But also realize that this very proud program who has been to an astounding 13 Final Fours and won 7 prestigious National Championships did not even make the Final Four with their traveling show. Though they had 4 first round draft picks, which no other team has ever had, and were head and shoulders more talented than the rest of the pack. And sure many of you are saying that UK plays College Ball, which is entirely different from the professional level. And you are correct in that sentiment, but it is still a similar scenario in my eyes to what the setup in Miami is.
It holds true at any level. Talent definitely helps. But raw talent does not win titles. Work ethic, team chemistry, coaching, and discipline, mixed in with talent wins championships. And I have no doubt in my mind that this Heat team will be a big time contender this year. But what if Wade, LBJ, and Bosh do not possess a solid chemistry together on the floor? Playing together on the Olympic team is a different beast than playing together in the real League. People like Van Gundy are declaring this team God before they even see how these guys intermingle.
Remember that the Kentucky Wildcats struggled early on last season as they worked out a team chemistry. They nearly lost to lowly Miami (OH) in a game where they trailed by 18. A Miami (OH) team that limped its way to a 14-18 overall record and a 3rd place finish in the MAC East this past season. It is hard to get acclimated to playing with new people instantly no matter how talented you are. So the South Beach All Stars will go through some growing pains whether people want to believe it or not, at least early on.
In Lebron’s 7 year career, he averages over 20 shots a game, and 27.8 points (this includes his rookie year). D Wade during his illustrious tenure in South Beach has averaged 25.4 points and over 18 shots a game. Lastly, the “so-called” or “self-proclaimed” superstar, Chris Bosh, has averaged 20.2 points, on over 14 shots a game. So between this 3 headed monster, these guys average over 50 shots a game. The Miami Heat averaged, over 79 shots a game last season. So with these guys taking small cuts in the amount they shoot the rock, expect the rest of the South Beach Globetrotters to average around 25 to 30 shots a game. This actually does seem somewhat reasonable surprisingly in Van Gundy’s defense as the majority of the rest of the roster has been willing to take massive pay cuts to come to South Beach. So they are probably willing to take less shots as well one would think.
I still do not have Miami bringing home the NBA title this upcoming season though. The team chemistry of teams like Orlando, Boston, or LA will prove to be too much for Miami’s talent to handle. So I definitely do not agree with Jeff Van Gundy’s foregone conclusions that this will be the “Greatest Team Ever” that breaks all the records at this time. They will be very good, but talent can only take one so far.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.