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Bam Blocks

5 Best Blocks in Miami Heat History

The Miami Heat took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night, defeating the Boston Celtics 117-114 in overtime. The headline-making play came from Heat center Bam Adebayo, a first-time All-Star this season and member of the 2019-2020 NBA All-Defense Second Team. Adebayo met Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum at the summit in the closing moments of overtime and blocked the would-be game-tying dunk attempt. It was one of the best blocks in Heat history.

Reactions spanned the gamut on social media. NBA players and celebrates alike fawned in awe. Heat legend Dwyane Wade posted a Dikembe Mutombo gif, his wife, Gabrielle Union, screamed “BAMMMMMMM!!! MONSTER BLOCK!!” Even pop-star Halsey called the Heat “spicyyyyy.”

The NBA legend Magic Johnson came thundering in with his opinion:

 

Magic’s hot take sparked plenty of debate across sports networks and social media. But the question is: Was Bam Adebayo’s Block the Greatest Block in Heat History?

No. 5: DWade Blocks Amar’e Stoudemire

Dwyane Wade is largely considered the greatest shot-blocking guard in NBA history. He’s certainly that for the Miami Heat. And while Wade sports so many highlight reel rejections on his resume, perhaps the greatest of those came 2005.

During a late March contest between the Heat and Phoenix Suns, Wade authored one of his signature plays. In the closing moments of the third quarter, Leandro Barbosa ran a pick-and-roll with Amar’e Stoudemire. Barbosa hit the rolling Amar’e with a pocket pass to the middle of the key and Stoudemire rose up for his two-point attempt.

From the weakside, though, Wade flew in and didn’t so much block Amar’e’s shot but spiked it to the court. He gathered the loose ball, took one dribble, then heaved a 60-foot shot from the opposite three-point line as the quarter buzzer sounded. He drilled the shot and the American Airlines Arena exploded.

Wade comes in at No. 5 here because, despite the spectacular nature of the play, the stakes of the game and moment were not at the level of the next four.

No. 4: LeBron Blocks Tiago Splitter

LeBron James holds arguably the greatest block in NBA history: his chase down of Andre Iguodala during Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. But he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers then, so that play doesn’t count.

For the Heat, James’ most impactful block came during Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals. In the fourth quarter, coming off a Game 1 loss, the Heat held a tenuous lead. Off an inbounds play, the Spurs ran a pick-and-roll with Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter. Miami’s aggressive defense backfired when Splitter slipped the screen and Parker found him with a perfect bounce pass.

Splitter thought he had an easy dunk, but James had other ideas. James erased the dunk attempt at its peak. Splitter tried the spike the ball one-handed, but James swallowed the attempt right at the front of the rim. The ensuing fast break led to a corner three from Ray Allen (on a James assist) to give Miami a 89-67 lead en route to the Game 2 victory.

James holds No. 4 here because, while the block itself was spectacular, that game was largely in hand at that point.

No. 3: Zo Blocks Jason Terry

Alonzo Mourning remains the Miami Heat’s all-time leader in blocks. He tallied 1,625 of them in 593 games over 11 seasons. In 82 career playoff games with the Heat, Zo rejected 171 shots.

Perhaps the biggest and most important of those came in Game 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. While Zo never led Miami to the championship as a centerpiece of the team, his pivotal defensive stop late in Game 6 helped the Heat hoist the franchise’s first trophy.

The Heat clung to a five-point lead in the fourth quarter in Dallas when the Mavs had a fast break. Jason Terry attacked from the wing and hoisted a runner. Zo came flying down the lane to swat Terry’s attempt into the seats. He tumbled to the court and seemed to be excited about the block. It was later revealed Zo was angry with Gary Payton.

 

Mourning’s effort on the play and in that game (eight points, six rebounds and a game-high five blocks) helped the Miami Heat win their first ever NBA Championship. He gets No. 3 on this list because, even though that was a play Heat fans saw Zo accomplish nearly 2,000 times in his career, the stakes were never higher.

No. 2: Bam Blocks Jayson Tatum

The Heat’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals remains on of the most impressive and unlikely stories in the NBA this season. One of the main reasons for Miami’s ascension up the East ladder has been the play of Bam Adebayo.

Overlooked during the draft, the Heat have modeled Bam into one of the league’s most impactful young players. He’s a prototypical neo-big, with an ability to score, handle and defend across multiple positions. Nowhere was Bam’s defensive acumen on display more than the closing moments of last night’s Game 1.

Down two, the Boston Celtics turned to their 22-year-old All-Star Jayson Tatum in hopes of tying the game. Bam had other plans. Tatum worked past Jimmy Butler and launched himself toward the rim. He cocked back the ball with one-hand as Bam rotated over and elevated to meet him.

Bam erased Tatum’s dunk attempt with his offhand, avoiding any physical contact and potential whistle. The ball remained in play, Bam secured it and was fouled. The Heat secured the Game 1 win on the back of Bam’s defensive brilliance.

No. 1: Bosh Blocks Danny Green

The Big 3 Experiment was on the line in the 2013 NBA Finals. Sure, the Heat had won in 2012, but two Finals losses in three years could have spelled the end for the Wade, James and Chris Bosh triumvirate.

Bosh played a pivotal role down the stretch of Game 6 in 2013. The famous play will always remain Bosh’s rebound and assist to Allen to tie the game near the end of regulation. But in overtime, after the Heat had taken a 3-point lead, the Spurs had a final chance to tie the contest.

With less than two seconds remaining, Tim Duncan found Danny Green racing to the opposite corner. Green had come free after a Splitter screen. Bosh sprinted to the corner and timed his block perfectly. With Green fading off the floor, Bosh met him and spiked the ball down. Spurs cried foul then, and it would most certainly be a foul now, but it wasn’t one in 2013.

It’s the greatest of all Miami Heat blocks because it capped the most unlikely comeback and saved the Big 3 Era in the process.

Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler vs. NBA’s best duos

The NBA is filled with star powered duos. The league has gotten more and more balanced each year, that even the bottom tier teams have an enticing one-two punch.

A prominent duo is not only based off each player’s personal success, but the camaraderie that the two players have together on the court.

This list is based on the current status of the best duos in today’s NBA, and barring no injuries.

 

15. Karl Anthony Towns and D-Angelo Russell: Minnesota Timberwolves

This one will take a little time, after Russell was acquired for Andrew Wiggins at the deadline. Towns and Russell should have pretty good chemistry established since they rose through the AAU circuit together.

 

14. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray: Denver Nuggets

This duo has progressed each year, with Jokic’s unparalleled passing ability and Murray’s shooting, and there’s room to grow. They led Denver team to a three seed in the West this season, and just need to prove it consistently together in the playoffs.

 

13. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert: Utah Jazz

On the court, this has worked, with Mitchell’s playmaking and scoring and Gobert’s paint-patrolling defense and rebounding. Off the court? Well, that’s been a bit more problematic since Gobert’s actions at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, though some say they’ve patched things up. We’ll see.

 

12. Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry: Toronto Raptors

It might’ve seemed as if Lowry would finally be a first option with DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard elsewhere , but that’s not the case. Siakam emerged as an All-Star, with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Lowry remained steady, at 20 points and 8 assists, and the Raptors kept rolling to a surprising second seed in the East.

 

11. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo: Miami Heat

After Butler was traded to the Heat, who would’ve thought he would find a running mate that could help him lead this Miami team to a four seed in the East? Certainly no one outside of Miami. Not a bad result considering that some said Jimmy came to Miami to retire. While they’ve paired well offensively, their real strength is their defensive passion and versatility, the latter of which is virtually unmatched around the NBA.

 

10. Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker: Boston Celtics 

Walker slid in for Kyrie Irving, Tatum took a leap, and suddenly the Celtics were the third seed. Tatum averaged 24 points and 7 rebounds, and Walker added 21 points and four assists. Walker never played with anyone as good as Tatum in Charlotte.

 

9. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: Philadelphia 76ers

On talent alone, this might be the top duo. But their games don’t really complement each other like some of the others. The collective numbers show that each performs better with the other off the floor, since their lack of spacing together tends to clog the lane. The individual numbers (Embiid with 23 points and 12 boards, and Simmons averaging a near triple double) are outstanding. Time will tell if they can figure it out.

 

8. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis: Dallas Mavericks

Size and offensive skill. Doncic is already elite, and Porzingis was starting to get back to that level after a major knee injury. He’s also shown he’s comfortable being the No. 2 option. But can they defend well enough together to win anything meaningful, coming out of the West?

 

7. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum: Portland Trail Blazers

No backcourt in the NBA can score like this one, outside of a healthy Warriors squad. Defensively? Well, not always ideal. But Portland’s fall this season was due mostly to injuries. Assuming they stick together, they should be contending for a top-4 seed again.

 

6. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton: Milwaukee Bucks

One’s the reigning and likely MVP: 30 points, 14 rebounds, and everything in between. Middleton has always been solid in every area, but he elevated this season, with a 21/6/4 statline, same as Paul George. Can Middleton be counted on when Giannis is crowded in the playoffs?

 

5. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson: Golden State Warriors.

They are the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. They just need to get healthy again. Klay Thompson didn’t rely on athleticism, so the ACL injury doesn’t seem insurmountable. Curry should be fine. They’ll be even better if Andrew Wiggins can give them a third threat, and take some pressure off.

 

4. James Harden and Russell Westbrook: Houston Rockets

The most controversial duo? Sure. James Harden is constantly criticized for his ball-pounding style of play and Russell Westbrook has been criticized in the past for only caring about triple-doubles. And they’ve both had down moments in the postseason, especially Harden. The stats, though, can’t be ignored. Harden leads the league in scoring and Westbrook was surging before the shutdown.

 

3. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving: Brooklyn Nets

We haven’t seen it yet, but have a sense of how good it could be. First, Durant needs to get healthy, but it appears that’s already happened. Irving needs to show, again, that he can share the ball and the spotlight. But this dueo has the potential to leap to No. 1 if their games connect as expected. They may be unguardable.

 

2. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George: Los Angeles Clippers

The top two-way duo. Only load management has kept them out of the top spot in the West. They can guard every position, score and distribute. George has something to prove in the postseason, but we’ve all seen what Leonard does there. Both in their prime, too. So this isn’t ending anytime soon.

 

 

1. LeBron James and Anthony Davis: Los Angeles Lakers

Rejuvenated by playing with another top-5 player,. LeBron put up 26 points a game along with 8 rebounds and 11 assists. LeBron has stepped aside in some ways for Davis, who can score at all three levels. Can LeBron continue at this pace? Can Davis hold up physically? And will Davis sign long-term? Those are the only questions. These two guys are the scariest duo for any team they go against.

 

Brady Hawk (@MiamiHawk607) is the youngest member of Five Reasons Sports, and the only one who aspires to be a sports agent. Hear him discuss this piece on Five on the Floor. 

Dwyane Wade to Have Jersey Retired by Miami Heat

Dwayne Wade is coming home.

A Miami Heat legend will get his due in February. According to a report from the Orlando Sun Sentinel, Dwayne Wade will have his jersey retired on February 22 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This will be exactly two years and two weeks after Cleveland traded Wade back to Miami.

When you look at his resume, it’s truly impressive in regards to what Wade did throughout the course of his career. A three-time NBA champion, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, and a 13-time NBA All-Star are just some of the things he has accomplished. Wade had success from the get-go,  making the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2004.

In addition to those accomplishments, he was named the MVP of the All-Star Game in 2010 and was the NBA scoring champion in 2009. That year, he scored 30.2 points per contest. It was the best season of his career, and a performance that is not going to be forgotten.

Although the years with Lebron James were some of the best in Miami Heat history, the 2006 NBA Finals was where Wade was able to make his most significant mark in the postseason.

2006 a major year in Miami Heat history

Wade played in 23 games in the 2006 postseason, starting all of them. He made 219-of-441 field goal attempts, scoring 653 points.  That was Dwayne Wade at his best, and it was fascinating to see him  play at that high a level. The way that Wade and Shaquille O’Neal held down the fort during that run was impressive. That was just one of the many highlights for Wade in what was a storied career.

Do you want tickets? You’re going to have to pay up. According to prices from StubHub, the lowest possible seat cost at the moment is $158.10. If you want to pay that, you’ll be sitting in Balcony Corner, seat 403.

For a night like this, it’s worth it. Wade embodied the Miami Heat from the time he arrived in the organization.  It will certainly be great to see him back home at American Airlines Arena.

Heat/Lakers is Game Heat Nation Deserves

The Miami Heat host the Los Angeles Lakers Friday in what could be this year’s most anticipated matchup to date.

The timing could not be better.

Miami (18-6) will put their undefeated home record to the ultimate test against a Los Angeles Lakers (22-3) team which has only lost one away game.

Finally the (well deserved) national attention will be on a Heat team that is the most enjoyable in years.

All NBA eyes will be on the American Airlines Arena for the ESPN broadcast, and rightfully so.

A lot of people expected the Lakers to be here, with the combination of Lebron James and Anthony Davis along with a solid supporting cast.

However few outside our market expected this quick cohesion and success from the Heat.

An ignorant or lazy narrative on Jimmy Butler and how he would mesh with a young core.

 

A lack of understanding that Erik Spoelstra only needed a functional, uncluttered roster to free untapped greatness.

 

Now the Heat enter this game with a chance to add momentum to an ascending national profile.

Against Lebron James and a Los Angeles team which has also reset trajectory and expectations instantaneously.

The Lakers have won five straight and 15 out of 16 games, their lone defeat a 114-100 home loss to Dallas.

Miami will have their hands full with a Laker offense that leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 48.7%.

Where they hurt you is down low with Anthony Davis who absurdly leads them in points (27.2), rebounds (9.2), blocks (2.6), and steals (1.5) per game.

They do not rely on the three point shot, attempting the sixth lowest (30.1) per game, but they make them at a 37.1% clip which is fifth best league-wide.

That counters Miami’s excellent defense beyond the arc, their biggest challenge in terms of matchups may be how to stop Davis in the block – who can also stretch the floor from the outside.

The keys for the Heat

For the Heat to have a chance they will have to take care of the ball as they are turning it over a league-high 17.7 times per game. Los Angeles leads the league in blocks per game and are third in steals.

While national respect is not a motive for the Heat in any way, shape, or fashion, you know they will want to put on a show under the brighter lights.

The Lakers had an extra rest day Thursday after a 96-87 slugfest win at Orlando on Wednesday.

Miami enters off another home victory, this time a 135-121 overtime thriller against Trae Young and the Hawks on Tuesday.

Young apparently forgot the Heat are closing games this year.

 

A matchup with two teams rated in the top 10 both offensively and defensively means something has to give.

Both teams should be fresh and expect a full 48 minutes of excellent basketball in this one, the always electric Triple-A should have even more juice Friday.

As should the case for more national spotlight in Heat Nation.

 

 

Understanding LeBron’s actions with his son

Perhaps it’s time for an alternative perspective for what may have triggered LeBron James’ reaction and behavior several days ago at his son LeBron Jr.’s AAU basketball game a little over a week ago, as LeBron ran onto the basketball court to congratulate his son and his son’s teammate for a spectacular alley-oop dunk.

Many were quick to be critical, faulting LeBron for inserting himself into his son’s game. And that reaction can be understood. Many, who are not fans of LeBron, are inclined to believe that he is always trying to bring attention to himself. And, of course, some sports pundits used the controversy to bring attention to themselves.

But perhaps an underlying reason, one that can’t be detected with the naked eye, was that LeBron may have been yearning for what he wished he could have had, just once with his father.

In the book Raising Your Game that I co-authored with Ethan J. Skolnick (now of Five Reasons Sports),  LeBron credits Frank Walker Sr., an Akron Housing Authority employee who helped raise him, with serving as his surrogate father.

Children need role models who only encourage them, but also provide that fundamental foundation of unconditional support so a child can learn to trust in oneself. Walker Sr. tried to provide that, in addition to housing and athletic instruction. But, of course, it’s natural that LeBron still would have longed for his birth father, even if others tried to fill the void.

Perhaps in that moment, here in 2019, the past and present merged; LeBron rekindled that child-like joy of how it felt as a youngster, playing a game he loves without the pressures he experiences now. This too we addressed in our book, because playing sports became his outlet to overcome some of the childhood disappointments and challenges he had a as a young boy who was not provided with as much as the average child.

So, at that moment in time with his own eldest son, LeBron was just being a Dad; a father whose passion and love of the game merged with his excitement (or exuberance) for his son’s achievement. And all he wanted to do was to express his profound joy and love for his son, his pride for their a play that reminded him of his own, and a high-level accomplishment.

And, what parent can’t identify with that?

 

For more from our book, which included interviews with more than 100 elite professional and amateur athletes, check it out here on Amazon.  Dr. Andrea Corn is a child psychologist with a specialty in sports, based in South Florida. 

Five Reasons

LeBron James again dumps young players, gets his guy

Somewhere Andrew Wiggins is chucking a bad shot, and smiling.

Just as he did in Cleveland, LeBron James has traded in the future for the present. Patience, as he’s admitted, is not his thing. This time, he did give his new young teammates a season, and it was a brutal one. This time his role in the departure of said young players was more direct, since his agent Rich Paul engineered Anthony Davis’ exit from New Orleans. But just as was the case when the Cavaliers dumped Wiggins for veteran Kevin Love upon James’ arrival, the Chosen One has chosen to go for the now rather than the later.

And who can blame him.

He’s bionic, but he’s now 34, and we saw him start to break down just a bit last season, even if his numbers were exceptionally strong.

Here are the details of this deal, and the devil is in those, since  two of the three first round picks shouldn’t be very high.

It’s not forever, however, even if you’d assume Davis would want to stay.

Why didn’t Boston get him?

Well, you knew this was coming.

Danny Ainge is the king of close calls, and somewhat questionable refusals.

Now James must deliver. The Warriors are reeling, the Rockets have holes (and may move Chris Paul) and there doesn’t seem to be another clear power in the West.

James went to Los Angeles for reasons beyond basketball.

Now maybe, with arguably the best sidekick he’s ever had (different than Dwyane Wade, with less duplication) he can get back to it.

And it means that Miami is still the only place where he wasn’t engineering personnel moves. At least not so many of them.

Isiah Thomas unleashes awful Spo-related LeBron take

Isiah Thomas was a terrific basketball player.

He was a score-first point guard before that was the norm. He was tough as anyone — remember that swollen ankle in the NBA Finals, and all that Thomas did on it. He was fiesty and relentless, not backing down even to Michael Jordan. He was the heartbeat of a mini-dynasty, the catalyst of the Bad Boys.

But since then?

Well, it hasn’t been great.

He was a decent head coach in Indiana by most accounts. Other than that? Failure with the CBA. Tragic failures, time after time, with the New York Knicks, where he somehow remained James Dolan’s pet. And FIU? We don’t want to talk about FIU.

Now he’s an analyst, and he’s generally enjoyable there. I’ve interviewed him, and been impressed by his breadth of knowledge. But even in that area, sometimes he slips up.

And this was a doozy,

I mean, what?

Or, in clearer terms…

And this…

The idea that James who, let’s be honest, thinks he can coach himself — and pretty much can — has been held back by his coaches is ludicrous.

First, he’s done pretty well in spite of them if that’s the case.

And then there’s the record.

He was drafted by Cleveland when Paul Silas was there; Silas may not have been an elite strategist, but he was a respected player and was well-liked by players and would have success after coaching James (remember Charlotte vs. Miami in 2001; Ricky Davis is still dunking somewhere, with Pat Riley memorably saying he was “embarrassed and ashamed” by what Silas’ team did to his).

Mike Brown? He was well-regarded as a strategist, especially on defense, at least for a while. Enough to get other gigs. And he was a branch from the Gregg Popovich tree.

David Blatt? He wasn’t suited for the role. At all. Horrible horrible fit. I was there. I know. David Griffin tapped him in Cleveland before he knew he was getting LeBron. Blatt did not take to challenges well. He made excuse after excuse (doesn’t fly with LeBron) and compared himself to a fighter pilot. He botched a timeout in a big playoff game against Chicago and the officials didn’t see it and then James’ game-winner bailed him out.

But James and his camp didn’t have to deal with him long. They had a little something to do with Ty Lue — who was doing good work coaching the Cavs defense — getting the main job. They won a title and, while it wasn’t clear Lue was all that responsible for it, he didn’t get in the way much.

Then James went to the Lakers with Luke Walton in place, so he knew sort of what he was getting (plus, Walton had posted a sterling won-loss record with the Warriors, even better than Steve Kerr’s. For what that’s worth.).

But, of course, we are in Miami, and so it’s the Spoelstra part of the Thomas take that is most wrong.

And most offensive.

Whatever you think of what Spoelstra has done the past couple of years — 2018-19 was not his best, under difficult circumstances — he did make the playoffs with Dwyane Wade and not much else before James arrived (broken down, playoff flop Jermaine O’Neal was the second best player Wade had during those two seasons; Michael Beasley was force fed minutes when he was a lackadaisical defensive liability only to justify his selection to a threadbare roster). The Heat were 15-67 the year before Spoelstra took over, with Pat Riley taking sabbaticals, and tripled their win total under Spoelstra.

So the idea that Spoelstra was being “experimented with” is farcical. He was entrenched at that point, with two playoff appearances even if they were first round exits. And recall, Wade didn’t want Riley back as the coach, for plenty of reasons. My reporting has always indicated that James didn’t either. Later, maybe. But not initially.

Then Spoelstra proved himself after a sometimes-rocky first season with the Big 3, especially on offense. But he probably wins a title even that first year if James doesn’t turn into Evan Turner Light in the 2011 Finals (and that’s even while acknowledging that Spoelstra erred badly in playing Mike Bibby over Mario Chalmers for so long).

The next season, Spoelstra won a championship in a weird lockout-shortened schedule. And then he found a perfect 9-man rotation to help propel a 27-game winning streak and a 66-16 record in 2012-13. In doing so, he unlocked James in a way no one else had, convincing him to play some power forward and designing a pace-and-space scheme around James’ otherworldly skill set. He also got buy in from James, at least enough of it, which may be the hardest thing to do in sports, because James doesn’t just think he’s the smartest basketball man in the room. He is. By far. Always.

Has Spoelstra gotten past the second round since James left? No. But look at the Heat rosters. Look at what happened to Chris Bosh. Who would have in Miami? Gregg Popovich? Maybe. Rick Carlisle? He hasn’t lately. Doc Rivers? He did masterful work this season for the Clippers, but he’s also made his share of mistakes. Riley? Not so sure. Not with the way he views basketball now, a view that is too tied to the past, while Spoelstra is always pushing to the future.

Isiah Thomas is in the Hall of Fame for his work as a player, not as anything else.

And sorry to tell you, Isiah:

Spo is joining you there someday.

Make room.

Make a better argument.

Stop making excuses for LeBron. He doesn’t need them. He’s one of the two best players in history. And, with the exception of where he was drafted, he’s made all of his own choices.

The Heat’s Big 3 stars want Juwan Howard at Michigan

By now, you’ve probably seen the Miami Heat Beat/Five Reasons Sports Network report that Juwan Howard is expected to be offered, and accept, the head coaching job at the University of Michigan.

If not, here it is.

While some in the media and Twittersphere are discrediting it, two people who are not?

His former Big 3 teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Wade saw the aggregation of our report on Bleacher Report, and James saw Wade’s tweet.

And not surprisingly, both are in favor — as would be Chris Bosh, who was very close to Howard when they played together with the Heat, their families spending a lot of time together. The Heat continued to call Howard “17” even after he was playing — sparingly, like Udonis Haslem now — into his 19th season. It’s like he never aged. Also, both James and Wade have been big proponents of black coaching prospects getting more opportunities, and backed former Heat assistant Fizdale, who filled the communicator role on the Heat staff prior to Howard.

Now we see when it’s confirmed.

And then LeBron…

It makes you wonder if James wanted Howard to coach the Lakers rather than Frank Vogel.

 

Spo’s Old Rival now Coaching LeBron? Fun.

During the battles of the Big 3 era, Erik Spoelstra tended to trade platitudes with other coaches, particularly during the playoffs.

He didn’t trade many with Frank Vogel.

Even though they came from similar backgrounds — the video room — there was little warmth. Talk to former Heat players and they’ll tell you that Spoelstra had an occasional expletive for the then-Pacers coach. And you may recall that Spoelstra — and even Pat Riley, in a statement — objected to the Pacers’ tactics against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in particular. (None of those tactics worked, of course, as the Heat beat Indiana in three straight playoff series.)

Spoelstra did take up for Vogel a couple of times, first when there was speculation about Vogel’s job following the Heat’s win in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, and later when Vogel was fired by the Pacers…

Vogel moved on to Orlando, and it was a disaster, as it’s been for most coaches until Steve Clifford there. LeBron, of course, moved on as well, and now he’s moved again, to Los Angeles.

And now Vogel is his coach???

Someone he never really praised — like he praised, say, Brad Stevens or Doc Rivers — while he was with the Heat?

This doesn’t seem sustainable, given LeBron’s history but also given the presence of world class backstabber Jason Kidd, someone LeBron admires.

With Magic Johnson out, Rob Pelinka rising, Kurt Rambis contributing and now Kidd lurking behind Vogel, the Lakers situation does not seem salvageable for LeBron — unless his former Cavs GM David Griffin trades him Anthony Davis. Which Griffin is too smart to do for nothing.

Demand a trade to Miami, Bron. We left a key for you.

Dwyane Wade continues telling the tale of 2010

There will be a 30 for 30 someday — and maybe a book, if I can find all my notes — but in the meantime, the story of the formation of the Big 3 Miami Heat continues to take shape.

There’s long been a question of whether Dwyane Wade or Pat Riley was more responsible for the formation of the Heat’s villainous superteam. Riley got the majority of the credit early, but those more aware of the process knew that — while Riley’s presence as the grand poobah of a successful, structured organization was a plus — it was always more about two things:

— The cap space the Heat created, which was Riley’s vision yes, but which Andy Elisburg actually was most responsible for executing.

— LeBron James and Chris Bosh wanting to play with Wade.

This credit question became a point of contention for Wade — and even more for the people in his circle — during the difficult summers negotiating with Riley in 2015 and 2016. (Just trust us on that.)

Wade and Riley have appeared to largely reconcile, with Riley doing something unusual and actually spending time at an All-Star Weekend (Wade’s last as a player) and then gushing about Wade again in the post-season press conference.

But Wade is still on the interview circuit, and this was interesting.

Miami wasn’t initially even second on he and James’ list when they were deciding where they could play together in 2010.

Click on it to listen to the clip.

Riley deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done with the Heat over the past 24 years. He made basketball matter here, and the Heat’s record of sustained success is second to only the Spurs during his tenure.

But there’s some mythology that gets in the way of the truth.

 

 

Voices

Thursday Trends: 3 Plays in the NBA Bubble

So some things never change.

Like Dion Waiters’ belief being stronger than your doubt.

But in these Bubble-licious times, much is different than we anticipated. We should be used to odd circumstances by now — after all, who knew we would have a reality TV star overriding the science-based recommendations of one of the most decorated infectious disease specialists on the planet? Or that pizza delivery drivers would become essential workers? Or that the Miami Marlins would be in first place in baseball’s National League East on August 6 after playing just six games?

Here are three NBA trends not everyone saw coming, and how seriously you should take them:

 

“Cash Considerations” Cashing In

Yes, cash considerations. That’s what the Phoenix Suns got for forward TJ Warren and a second-round pick on NBA Draft night. Warren, best known previously for getting the finger and getting called “trash” and “soft” and “not on my f—- level” by the Heat’s Jimmy Butler. Warren has been above everyone level’s in Orlando, averaging 39.7 points in three games, all Indiana Pacers wins.

Will it continue?: Well, not to this degree, since a run like this would rank with anything Michael Jordan ever did -to anyone other than LaBradford Smith. But, while few noticed, Warren was shooting 61 percent in February and 51 percent in March, while averaging 19.9 points per game. So he’s good.

The Betting Edge: Do you trust Indiana in the playoffs? That depends on Domantas Sabonis and Vic Oladipo more than Warren. If the Pacers keep winning, they’ll likely finish 4th or 5th in the East, especially since they have two regular Bubble games left with the Heat. Then they’ll likely face the Heat. And, the Butler-Warren intrigue aside, the Pacers aren’t beating the Heat unless they can throw more at Bam Adebayo than just Myles Turner up front, and can exploit the Heat’s point of attack defensive issues with Oladipo. Will Sabonis (foot) come back? Will Oladipo (knee) round into form? If not, the Pacers are still a first round exit.

 

Raptors Rise 

They’re taking this Lockdown in the Bubble seriously, eh? First in defense through three games with a ridiculous 96.1 rating. Small sample size? Sure. But there’s no reason it can’t continue. The Raptors are quick, long, switchy and deep, and they did a number on the Heat’s offense Monday, frustrating sniper Duncan Robinson off the floor. This has been the NBA’s best team since February 15.

Will it continue?: Why wouldn’t it? Toronto is fully healthy for the first time all season, and has developed a game independent of Kawhi Leonard. Nick Nurse has already proven to be an elite coach. Plus, Kyle Lowry is good for a final minute flop that seals the deal.

The Betting Edge: Keep picking the Raptors until other bettors catch on. News seems to travel slow to the States for some reason (we are dismantling the federal post office here, after all), and even with a few NBA analysts catching on, it’s not like anyone really listens to Kendrick Perkins.

 

Lakers Clankers 

They’re first in the West for sure, having clinched that already, even with LeBron James somehow characterizing that as some sort of unexpected achievement. Anthony Davis is taking the leap after the leap after the leap, establishing himself as a top-5 player until his bad luck forces him to fracture an orbital bone, and LeBron — while disconnected at times so far — should pick up his play when it matters. But here’s the thing: beyond them, this team just isn’t that good offensively, and it’s mostly reflected in their shooting. Even with Rajon Rondo absent for now (which is for the best), the Lakers are making just 25 percent of their three point shots in the Bubble regular season games, and it’s hard to see how that gets much better. That’s the reason they were dead last in offensive rating in the Bubble through four games, at 96.6, which is what TJ Warren now scores for Indiana in a quarter.

Will it last?: Well, this is almost impossible to predict, since you’re counting on the likes of the aforementioned erratic Waiters, TMZ Kyle Kuzma and the always amusing JR Smith. (And what happened to Danny Green?). The question is how much it matters if the Lakers defend as they can, even without Avery Bradley, and Davis and James play to their potential together.

The Betting Edge: It’s difficult to trade 2’s for 3’s all game. If the Lakers draw Portland in the first round, they’re unlikely to lose, but the Blazers might be worth a play on the points a couple of times, with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum likely to do damage.