One of the dumber questions I’ve heard debated lately on sports-talk radio asks who “The Man” is on the Miami Heat basketball team. I seem to be most in agreement with Jalen Rose who argues that “The Man” is something the media likes to think about and the players and coaches think about much less. I’m taken back to my own high school coaching days when I used to constantly prep players on the fact that people who don’t know basketball will mostly ask players they meet about how many points they scored or are averaging for the season. In the locker rooms I used to inhabit, we knew that making shots was one part of a game with many important parts.
No doubt, LeBron has struggled in fourth quarters of late making shots. He may or may not be a nice person and that might be effecting the way he is reported upon. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo seems to hate him, so much so that my primary reason for clicking on something he writes is to see what creative new angle he’s found to be negative about. Something I do know: all players struggle.
There used to be a poster out when I was a kid that touted all of the shots Michael Jordan had taken and missed that caused his team to lose. Remember all of those brutal Bulls’ losses to the Pistons before they started winning titles? Remember when Phil Michelson couldn’t win the big one in golf? Don’t forget all the big shots hit by Jordan’s teammates, players such as John Paxson, Steve Kerr, and Craig Hodges. Was Jordan a coward for passing off? Silly question now that we can look back on what happened over the span of his career.
As a high school assistant coach in North Carolina, I watched our team beat a team with Chis Paul on it on its way to winning the state title. Clearly Paul’s team had defined “The Man” for itself, but our team, with at least eight good basketball players on it of whom practically now one has ever heard of, our team won the game.
In tonight’s NBA finals, players will (with suggestions from their respective coaches) choose to help a teammate on defense or not. Playing the Mavericks, sometimes it’s better to stick close to the three point shooter, but if you do that, it gets very hard to contain dribble penetration. Will the Heat move LeBron off the top of the key and get him the ball in the middle or along the baseline? It’s something I think would help the Heat’s offensive attack, a way for LeBron to not be so easily accounted for by the defense. If the Mavs are forced to finish in the lane rather than have the freedom to kick out to open shooters, will they be able to succeed? Who will guard Jason Terry and J.J. Berea? Who is the man on the Heat? I don’t care. There will be a lot more interesting parts of the game to watch.