Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Opportunity.....

Today, at this very moment, and during the coming heat of the summer, an opportunity has been presented. Both are beginnings, both are necessary and both, just so happen to be taking place in South Florida, but began in much cooler climates.

The first is an opportunity for a man, full of opinions, thoughts, ideas and an unhealthy infatuation with American sports. An opportunity to do something that he was meant to do in field that was meant for him. An opportunity to express frustration, adulation, jubilation, justification, representation and any other "ation" that just so happens to appeal to the tangent I am about run off on.

(Speaking of tangents is it just me or does it seem like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Don King all went to the same school in the same town with the same barbers, and made some wild and unfathomable pact to become outrageous personalities, latch on to ridiculous people and happenings all while using and creating words ending in "ation", "lly", "fy", "ous" and ing but then somewhere along the lines Don King forgot to perm and color his hair and pissed off the other two when he wanted sports and not politics?)

Back to opportunities. I lived and in Pittsburgh for the developmental portion of my life and became enamored with the amazing sports teams in an amazing sports town. I played baseball and basketball from 8 through college and continue to stumble through softball games and full court games on blacktops in the Northeast quadrant of the Sun known as South Florida. (Wanna lose weight? Move to South Florida and sit outside for an hour a day, just melts off like butter).

I love the Steelers, the Pens, the Pirates  the Marlins and, as a side effect of my relationship with my girlfriend,  the Miami Hurricanes and the Pirates alter ego the Miami Dolphins.(Is it sad I love them and the Pirates because they are so cursed? [the Pirates by Sid Bream and Barry Bonds and the Dolphins by Dan Marino, also from Pittsburgh, and my high school).

That brings me to the sport that calls the first word in my Blogs title home, Basketball.

And before you go assume that my number one team by default, would either be the Heat or the Pittsburgh Panthers, think again, Magic, Shaq and Kobe made me a Laker for life, I've got the "Kobe is the greatest NBA player not named Michael Jordan in NBA history" to prove it. However, as much as the Kobe and Shaq years and the reign of Jamie Dixon at Pitt compel great drama, there is nothing, and I mean a big ol' Whitney Houston nothing, that can hold a candle to what is going in American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.

That brings us to opportunity number 2.


The Miami Heat officially have the opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity that they relish more than Decisions, the Parade before the trophy, the Military base, the Bump. Since the Regular Season series versus Boston and Chicago, since Crygate and "Don't - Let - Go - of - the - Rope". An opportunity to become more than what is expected of them. To become more than a group of great individuals. More than a great team. To become a transcendent team. To become to the 2010's what the Lakers where to the 2000's, the Bulls to 90's, the Lakers again in the 80's (the Lakers are a pretty awesome organization, huh?) and trump the naysayers like Chuck Barkley, like Dan Gilbert, like every individual that jam packed 29 other arenas just to boo the Heat.


In the 1988 - 1989 season, Michael Jordan and the Bulls where that up and coming team that just wanted to set the world on fire. And the world wanted to watch them do it, as there 4th overall ranking in attendance can attest to that fact. Jordan was jumping from the free throw line to beat 'Nique. He was scoring 58 versus the Pistons, lighting up MSG and had already made a statement against the Celtics in the 86' playoffs. Scottie was getting his feet wet, playing hard D and finding his way through the league as a rookie. By the end of that season, they were 47-35 and limped into the playoffs to eventually get Jordan Ruled and bullied by the eventual Champion Pistons 4-1.

In the 1989 - 1990 season, the Bulls revamped and reload, adding Phil Jackson and his triangle to improve the scoring and neutralize the Jordan Rules, and bringing in key role players in B.J. Armstrong and eventual hero and Cleveland Cavaliers GM, John Paxson, rolling to 55 -27. This was there year. This THERE time. And the league felt it. The teams felt it. And they STILL lost. And to who? Those Pistons, this time 4-3 in a knock down drag out brawl of a series.

Two amazing individual seasons for Jordan. He had been making the public drool with his ability and packing his pockets with countless endorsements and created a brand out himself. But it took two summers of pain. Of gutting churning, mind numbing pain from the defeats he had taken part in to create who we remember. To create the monster. To create a bond between Jordan and renowned trainer Tim Glover to turn a player from a once in generation talent to the greatest player.Ever. To the greatest floor general. Ever. And to push himself to push him team to limits they never would have received without a beat down. Without their hearts getting ripped out two summers in a row. It was the moment after that 4-3 loss to the Pistons, that taste of greatness to finally reach the mountain top.


Fast forward to the summer of 2010. Lebron James and the has just lost to the Orlando Magic, and was call out by every possible outlet for not showing up in a do or die game 6 against Orlando. For not pushing his team to greatness after a season that saw the Cavaliers go 66-16 and let down a city, a state, a league by not making it to the promised land with the most talented player since Jordan. Lebron was sick, throwing his jersey into the stand as he walked of the court as black, blue and white confetti rained from the ceiling and the Magic celebrated the Eastern Conference Championship. He was done. He wanted a team that would do what it took to help him. To give him the players he need to win.

That same summer, Dwayne Wade, who only knew Miami white, red and black as an NBA player, was close. Close to leaving. Close to a homecoming. To teaming with D. Rose and Boozer in Chicago, because his disgust with losing was pushing over the edge. He had tasted greatness as the 06' Finals MVP, and was done with not competing for that feeling every year.

It would be this summer that both players felt was the defining summer, like that 1988-1989 summer that the Bulls experienced. When the Bulls felt Championship or bust. Now it was Lebron and Wade, feeling the heat and not wanting anything less than the champagne. The cigars, the Trophy. And then it happen. The Heat, revamped, reloaded and became THE TEAM. The team that would have a bulls eye like Jordan's Bulls, that every fan wanted to see every game, like those Bulls. And like those Bulls, they pushed it to the limit only to be denied a second straight summer, beat down, tail in between their legs, defeated. Like those Bulls.

Now THIS is the moment. THIS is the opportunity. This is the REAL decision. Will they have that same second summer as Jordan and the Bulls, a summer that so disgusted them, that they so hated and pained over, that will push them from talented to great? From talented to elite? From Champs?

So, for now, everyone will say, Lebron choked, Spoelstra's no good, trade Bosh or the Heat suck. Ant the Heat will read, watch and hear all off. It will feed and grow the opportunity.

 If you thought last summer was the summer, you obviously need a history lesson. This is were it begins. This is how a dynasty is created. The Heat is on.