A great team? The Heat mightn’t be better than the Hawks

LeBron James’ new motto: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

And here’s the funny part: He still might not be able to beat the Orlando Magic. Or the Boston Celtics. Or, believe it or not, the Atlanta Hawks.

The Miami Heat aren’t yet a team and might never be. It’s tempting to call them a collection, but it’s more a mismatched set. There’s a power forward (Chris Bosh) who’s less power than finesse, and there are the two All-Stars whose styles most mirror each other.

Put LeBron alongside Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen or even Joe Johnson (when not in Iso mode) and you’ve got a working partnership. One drives and dishes and the other shoots and finishes. Station Lebron next to Dwyane Wade and you’ve got Miami Twice.

What does LeBron do? He dribbles and drives. Sometimes he shoots a jump shot, but shooting is the least part of his game. What does D-Wade do? He dribbles and drives and dishes. Sometimes he shoots a jump shot — he’s a better shooter than LeBron, but he’s still not Kobe.

How will this work? Will they take turns? (”This is your possession, ‘Bron; I’ll just stand over here in the corner.”) Will they go rock-paper-scissors to see who gets the ball when?

We saw it — admittedly on a different level — at Georgia Tech this past season: It’s never ideal when your two best players do the same thing. They don’t complement one another; they get in each other’s way. And for all the happy talk emanating from the purported Big Three today, wait and hear how it changes when the Heat lose three in a row.

Yeah, they got along when they were playing in the Olympics, but the NBA isn’t made up of players looking just to get the Dream Teamers’ autographs. Every player on every other NBA club now has a target, and there are a handful of teams in the NBA East capable of beating the Heat without it being an upset.

Bosh is accustomed to being the focal point on his team. LeBron and D-Wade are accustomed to being, more or less, the entire team. As much as they might insist, “I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” we cannot deny the presence of ego. It broke up the Beatles. It will get to the Heat.

Even now, Orlando is a better team: It has a center and shooters to surround him. Boston is a better team: It has a Big Three — actually a Big Four, given the ascendancy of Rajon Rondo — who have proved they can work with one another. The Hawks — yes, the Hawks — are a better team: They’re deeper and their three best players play different positions.

If LeBron thought the pressure to win in Cleveland was oppressive … well, he ain’t seen nothing yet. D-Wade has his title. If the Heat fail, it won’t be Wade who takes the hit. It will be the man who couldn’t get Cleveland past Round 2 despite the addition of Shaquille O’Neal, Antawn Jamison, Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker, not to mention the re-acquisition of Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

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Had LeBron held up his end, those Cavs wouldn’t have crashed against Boston. But he didn’t, and they did. And what did owner Dan Gilbert say about his former employee’s playoff performance after the alleged King had abdicated his Ohio throne? Quoth Gilbert: “He quit.”

More from Gilbert: “He has gotten a free pass. People have covered up for him for way too long.”

Yes, this is harsh. But the reality of LeBron choosing to join Team Wade as opposed to leading a team of his own has thrown everything about James the player into question. There was a time when Michael Jordan couldn’t get past the Pistons, but he didn’t demand a trade to Detroit.

The man whom some have decided is the greatest since Jordan has just told us he can’t do it alone and no longer wanted to try. Where will he go if he can’t take a title with the Heat?

Well, there’s always the Yankees. Maybe they could use a pinch-runner.

297 comments Add your comment

mike

July 9th, 2010
11:19 am

J Clay

July 9th, 2010
11:21 am

First? I sure would like to see Hawks, Celtics, or Magic take down the Heat….or even the Bulls

mike

July 9th, 2010
11:21 am

go hawks… we got miami! now orlando is a different story we have to get over the hump mentally with them

Mark Bradley

July 9th, 2010
11:22 am

Kudos, Mike.

volman

July 9th, 2010
11:24 am

Love it, Mr. Bradley! I have absolutely no problem with what Gilbert said. He was spot on.

I’m glad somebody had the gonads to say it. You should be more harsh on queen James!

RHS2008

July 9th, 2010
11:24 am

I really really really hope that this blows up in their faces this is even worse than the Yankees 3 of the 5 players on the court are the top players in the whole league, thats like having Halladay, Josh Johnson, and Ubaldo Jimenez pitching on back to back to back nights its just not fair but GO BRAVES big series this weekend!

Timmy

July 9th, 2010
11:25 am

LeJoke will never have the legacy of Jordan, Bird, or Magic no matter how many titles he wins.

Hunter

July 9th, 2010
11:27 am

volman

July 9th, 2010
11:29 am

RHS, please don’t EVER put Chris Bosh in a “top 3 player in the NBA” category.

The guy is good, but he’s not All-NBA Talent. He wants to ride the queen and Dwyane “Flop” Wade’s coat tails.

UGA

July 9th, 2010
11:29 am

Great article!
They are going to have some problems with this team.

Who takes the last shot?
Who guards Dwight Howard?

This is always D Wade’s team too. He won the title in Miami.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, W.D. Hess. W.D. Hess said: @TheBigLead http://bit.ly/bkHDzv [...]

Mark Bradley

July 9th, 2010
11:30 am

I’m trying to think of a bigger backlash regarding a sports figure. Zinedine Zidane after the head-butt?

i don't care

July 9th, 2010
11:30 am

that big horse head james’ ego will blow up the heat lockeroom before the all star break

CSpin

July 9th, 2010
11:30 am

“The Miami Heat aren’t yet a team and might never be.”

Good statement, MB.

@wbarker

July 9th, 2010
11:32 am

I don’t get how he thought it was a good idea to string everyone along, including inviting six teams to watch in person. Didn’t anyone tell him it might not be a good idea to piss of the three largest media markets in the US (NY, CHI, LA)? Money does not equal brains or good PR.

J Clay

July 9th, 2010
11:32 am

As much as I don’t really care for LeBron and certainly this charade was self indulgent…I think the Cavs owner is crying over spilled milk. If he truly felt that LeBron quit etc why treat him like they did and try to re-sign? True guts would have been to come out and say all this BEFORE LeBron signed elsewhere….

Herschel Talker

July 9th, 2010
11:33 am

MB:

What do you think of the Cliff Lee story?

HT

Tale of Woe

July 9th, 2010
11:33 am

As a Cleveland fan I am crushed. I hope the Heat never win a championship and I hope Gilbert is right that the Cavs will win one before the “King”

Timmy

July 9th, 2010
11:40 am

Mark,

The difference between events like the Zidane headbutt and the Sprewell choking and this is that every game he plays for the Heat will be a constant reminder of how he turned his back on his hometown team (which he has a tattoo of the area code). While he committed no actual crime, he is going to get it worse than Vick did and it’s going to be for the rest of his career regardless of whether or not he rides Wade’s coattails to championships.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

July 9th, 2010
11:40 am

we all hope Mebron loses or at least most of us do , but will the hawks make anymore moves now that the NBA is not being held hostage by Mebron anymore.
or will we just fight with what we have and hope Drew is a genius?

Herschel Stalker

July 9th, 2010
11:41 am

Gilbert

July 9th, 2010
11:42 am

It will take a complete stroke of luck for Cavs to win championship before Lebron does. I’d go as far as to include all Cleveland major sports franchises in this bet- wouldn’t change the odds much. Bottom line is Gilbert is hurt by Lebron’s move and he’s backing his fans with strong words. He knows Cavs are nowhere near winning anything now but must stay optimistic.

Mark Bradley

July 9th, 2010
11:42 am

Going to the Yankees? Typical, I’d say, Herschel.

Swampdawg

July 9th, 2010
11:44 am

Basketball… Fooey! 80 – 20 What happened to Diversity and Affirmative Action!

Herschel Talker

July 9th, 2010
11:44 am

Does it make you less enthusiastic on the Braves?

Mark Bradley

July 9th, 2010
11:47 am

Not one bit, Herschel.

Kanye

July 9th, 2010
11:47 am

Meet Mark Bradley, the light-skinned version of Terrence Moore. What a Doomsday Prophet you have turned out to be. If the Heat crash and burn so be it. It really hurts you that Lebron signed with Miami. Why do you care so much? Leave it alone. Better yet, tell us how the HOMETOWN TEAM (remember those guys) can add to the team to ensure that we can compete for the title next year. What trade bait do we have to lure Chris Paul from New Orleans? Can we sign Shaq? What about trading for Michael Beasley? I bet he has something to prove big-time. Get on your job and stop crying about Lebron.

chem

July 9th, 2010
11:48 am

You can stop a slasher if you double team, but you can’t double team two guys simultaneously. If either Wade or Lebron wants to rest and take a half off he can. There’ll be a superstar on the court the entire game. Other teams won’t survive the grind. The optimism is encouraging but if the Heat hire a couple jump shooters, it’s all over.

Whopper Dawg

July 9th, 2010
11:48 am

Well, I think we are better than Cleveland now. Miami, I am not so sure.

LeBron undid a lot of good with this move, and you do make some good points Mark. If he doesn’t win the titlte now, and it sure isn’t slam dunk, he will look very, very bad.

Navigator

July 9th, 2010
11:51 am

Hey the Hawks had trouble with the Heat before the 3 Amigos got together. Of course the Hawks valued their super star very very high and he will easily be able to match up with Lebron (cough, cough, whiz). The Hawks will handle Miami this year (cough, cough, whiz), and are maybe the best team in the east (cough, cough, whiz).

nard 34

July 9th, 2010
11:53 am

Joe,Josh,Horford,Crawford,Marvin,Teague,Jordan Crawford, ZaZa, & Mo! Let’s Go Hawks. Am i the only person missing that you have to have some form of bench production to win a NBA championship. It’s sad seeing all this great talent in the NBA selling-out to play with buddies. David Sterns loves this BS.

MCLOVIN

July 9th, 2010
11:53 am

I am with leyland I am more interested in where Shaq is going , he will play his best against the heat, and Magic just to prove he is still Shaq , and can you imagine the destruction he would cause if he messed around and slipped into the finals against the lakers . let him take off the regular season and turn it on when needed
go get him hawks
don’t drag your feet

Kanye

July 9th, 2010
11:53 am

Mark, what do you really think about Gilbert’s comments towards Lebron? Why didn’t he try to bring a co-star to Cleveland to team with Lebron before he hit free agency (and don’t you dare mention Shaq or Antwan Jamison)?

Smitty

July 9th, 2010
11:53 am

No titles in the first 3 years, with 3 players each making over $60 million combined, who do you trade? Lebron as a Clipper in 2013? That would be Karma.

Billy Peeler

July 9th, 2010
11:53 am

I also wonder how this “superstar trio” is going to fit together. Bosh is a power forward, though…as you say…he plays a lot like a small forward. But Wade and James are both used to having the ball a lot, and I wonder how many “touches” are going to be available. I’ll bet somebody is unhappy by midseason.
You can win a lot of games on just pure talent…but very few teams have won championships that way.

Mark Bradley

July 9th, 2010
11:55 am

I think Cleveland did everything it could have to make James a champion.

willie

July 9th, 2010
11:57 am

They are about to bring in their shooter in Mike Miller. All they need is a big that bang and rebound a little, and veterans will line up to play for nothing with these guys. It is hard for me to imagine them not going all the way, but Orlando and Boston will have a shot.

Smitty

July 9th, 2010
11:58 am

MB – They definitely put a decent crew together to play with LeBron. The reason they lost to Boston is the coach kept trying to use Shaq at Center instead of keeping the more athletic big men in the game to out run the older Celtics. The Cavs slowed the game down for Boston and played right into their hands. (That and LeBron not playing to his “kingly” level)

What is the over/under..

July 9th, 2010
11:58 am

…on how long before Riley decides that the team needs him as coach, AGAIN?

Betty White

July 9th, 2010
11:59 am

Lebron should be ashamed ! people took care of their home town in my day.

singndablues

July 9th, 2010
11:59 am

James couldn’t carry his team in Cleveland to a ring so now he wants to stack the deck so to speak so that he can win in Miami. He has devalued his own character for all time with this move. He will no longer be able to stand with the other icons of the sport.

nola atl fan

July 9th, 2010
12:00 pm

sorry its a bit late… but kudos mark for your “call out” in the USA today earlier this week. As a regular reader and sometimes poster under the “nola” tag, I felt like a proud parent seeing my man bradley mentioned on that national stage.

“good grief”

GT Alum

July 9th, 2010
12:00 pm

J Clay, you’re exactly right that it’s sour grapes. If LeBron decides to re-sign with Cleveland, then Gilbert and the rest of Cleveland are having a lovefest saying how great LeBron is and how he’ll lead them to a championship. He left, so he’s an overrated quitter who doesn’t have what it takes to be a champion. Don’t get me wrong – I completely understand where they’re coming from and don’t blame them. People like MB enthusiastically praising comments like that is just silly piling on, though.

RareAir

July 9th, 2010
12:01 pm

I kind of take offense to someone saying that Lebron failed in Cleveland because he didn’t win last year. How quick we forget. How long ago was it that Lebron carried a not very good team to the finals? Actually I’m also directing this at Dan Gilbert, Lebron didn’t quit. How dd we know that he didn’t have the stomach flu, or something in that last series (especially Game 5). Maybe he was glued to the porcelain god, at halftime, as color commentators were dissecting his play in the first half.
I do have empathy for the Cleveland area at losing Lebron, but that is his right to leave (he was FREE agent) and he certainly didn’t take anything from anyone (team owner, fans, Cleveland), he only gave. I’m a big Raptor fan, sure I was really disappointed that CB4 left, but I do understand his reasoning, Toronto has no chance to win a championship in the foreseeable future. So Lebron, CB4 and DWade, I wish you the best!!.

MCLOVIN

July 9th, 2010
12:02 pm

Riley coaching by mid season maybe ?

LazySam

July 9th, 2010
12:02 pm

Your right Miami isn’t a team. They only have 4 players now under contract, you need 5 to play … going to be hard to put a team together(bench, coach and all) and win a championship the first year. Guess CP3 will be on his way to help if they don’t win it this year.

cantondawg

July 9th, 2010
12:02 pm

Mark,

You forget to mention the Lakers of a few years back. They signed superstars Karl Malone and Gary Payton to join Kobe and were deemed a sure lock to win a championship. What happened. They were swept in 4 games by Larry Brown’s Detroit Pistons. That team was great proof that a collection of superstars doesn’t equate to title

GT Alum

July 9th, 2010
12:03 pm

@wbarker, this might fall under the philosophy of there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

O'Brien

July 9th, 2010
12:03 pm

Mark,

I think it will work, because given LeBron’s passing ability (7 apg career average), he will initiate a lot of the offense. A point forward if you will.

Plus guys will take less money to go there to play with the big 3 (version 2.0), especially since they will have a chance to win a title.

And I also think the Hawks need to make some moves and not stand pat.

CJ

July 9th, 2010
12:03 pm

Really MB, Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker?