I really, really hate that I have to judge a debate like this. Call me a basketball purist, but one of the things I really enjoy about basketball is the fluid motion of five guys running an offense, communicating on defense, etc. It can be such a graceful sport to watch for that reason. You may read that and say that I’m immediately biased in favor of deciding that the Miami Heat MUST play a team game in order to be successful in the post-season. That is incorrect.
While I regret that much of the NBA has moved beyond the fluid team game that I believe basketball should be, that regret has no bearing on my understanding of what it takes to be successful in the NBA. Kobe Bryant’s Lakers have won the last two NBA championships. If that is not somewhat of a ringing endorsement of selfish play, I don’t know what is. On the other hand, the Boston Celtics have been very successful and they have a very team-oriented style. Bu, I went into this debate with an open mind. Let’s go to the arguments and see who emerges victorious.
Truth be told, I thought Babe Ruthless summed up his argument in the title of his post: “There’s No “I” in Team, But There is in Win.” Babe Ruthless is always big on individual achievement, and great players taking a team to victory… and this argument is no different. If this debate had popped up a month into the NBA season, Babe Ruthless would have no shot at winning, seeing as the Heat were a royal mess at that point in time. However, since King James’ cathartic Cleveland experience where the Heat demolished the Cavs, the Heat have been on a roll, and now Babe Ruthless’ argument holds a lot of weight.
Loyal Homer really gave no statistics to back up his argument, but his reference to the post-season struck a chord with me. He talked about how the rigors of a seven-game playoff series can expose holes in your team, leading the reader to infer that individual talent may be able to win for one night, but that it takes cohesive team play over a seven-game series to bring home the crown. At this point, I still hadn’t made up my mind who won the debate.
However, the more I thought about it, my inference from Loyal Homer’s post won him the debate. I thought back on my formative years as a Chicago Bulls fan, watching Michael Jordan (and eventually Scottie Pippen), two of the greatest NBA players of all time, bang their heads against the postseason glass ceiling a few times before breaking through. What did the trick for the Bulls? Jordan realized, as Kobe has now, that you need help to win a championship. Sometimes you need Steve Kerr to take the last shot because the better basketball move is to use your supreme talents as a decoy. It is not disrespect if you touch the ball less than your teammates, and only get the ball in crunch time now and then. Individual talent can be dominant in the regular season (see last season’s Cleveland Cavaliers), but it takes a cohesive team to win the trophy. Will Miami be that team? Dwyane Wade doesn’t think they need to be, but Loyal Homer and I disagree.
As a token of congratulations to Loyal Homer, I award him a pair of D-Wade’s sweet new goggles. Please understand that I am in no way making fun of Wade’s migraine issues. Migraines are brutal and frustrating to deal with, but I genuinely miss the era of guys running around with wild-looking goggles. Medical reason or no, I think D-Wade can bring them back – right after he sends his first pair to Loyal Homer.
Babe Ruthless will argue the Heat don’t need to play a team game to win, while Loyal Homer will argue the Heat need to play a team game to win consistently. Why don’t you take your talents to these articles, and the poll, and decide this question?