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CAN BEST FRIENDS BE TEAMMATES?

Posted By Sean Eckhardt On Nov 28 2010 @ 6:14 pm In Miami Heat | No Comments

     This weekend has been a perfect example of the Heat’s season so far.  On Friday night they survived a late scare at home and went on to beat a bad Philadelphia team 99-90.  Then on Saturday night they traveled to Dallas to take on the Mavericks, who many including myself believe are a real contender in the Western Conference.  An awful third quarter led to a sound defeat;106-95.  The Miami Heat are struggling in general, have an overall record of 9-8, and have lost four consecutive road games.  The Heat’s shortcomings have been very well chronicled, so instead being redundant, I’ll skip the lack of size/true point guard/team chemistry issues.  Instead, I think there might be a different problem at work in Miami.  Can two best friends be teammates?

     At first, the idea that this could be an issue seems improbable, but it’s not.  Yes, players have been very good friends and played on the same team before, and it is a given that it always takes more than one great player to win championships.  This situation is diffferent.  These are not just two great players, they are two of the top three players in the NBA right now(Kobe is the other for anyone that doesn’t follow basketball).  LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been best friends for some time now.  That is not really a secret.  Nor is the fact that these two friends, along with Chris Bosh, thought about how much fun it would be to play on the same team after their Olympic experience together in 2008.  This however, is not the Olympics.  The game is different and maybe more importantly, so is the motivation to win.  Miami is not Team USA and they certainly aren’t unified by the goodwill of the whole country.  Quite the contrary.  The Heat have tried to put up an “us against the world” front, but that doesn’t appear to be helping them on the court.  Probably the biggest issue at play is the question of these two guys being so close, both in skills and friendship.  When they were on the court opposite each other, these two always seemed to elevate their game, much like Bird/Magic, Jordan/Barkley and other legendary rivals who were also very good friends.  Now, Wade and James seem challenged, but not by each other.  It is very strange to watch.  The biggest concern for Heat fans and Pat Riley is can it be fixed?

     No, I am not suggesting that Pat Riley should coach this team.  That would be a short term fix as all of these players signed six-year contracts and Riles is not going to coach for six years.  Miami needs someone from within to lead.  D-Wade is probably the only candidate strong enough to do so.  But again, do you scold your best friend and risk embarrassing him.  Wade has been the unquestioned leader of this team in the past and Miami’s championship hopes, along with Eric Spoelstra’s job, and LeBron’s legacy are all dependent upon him.  Sorry D, hope that’s not too much pressure.

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