It was a 1980 movie titled The Gods Must Be Crazy. Set in Africa, it told the story of a lone Coke bottle falling from a plane into the possession of a bushman (Xi) who believed it had been sent by God (Wikipedia).
Though written as light-hearted comedy, who’s to say The Creator doesn’t at times work in such mysterious, subtle ways as a soda bottle dropping from the sky?
Following that line, who’s to say the basketball gods didn’t play a role in shaping this year’s NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat? Does every contact have to be in the form of a burning bush or on the wings of angels? Heavens no.
And why would the gods take an interest in the 2011 Finals?
Because the Heat ticked ‘em off but good. Miami broke two tenets of the Sporting Code: “1) No player shall ever set them self above the team; and 2) No player shall ever negligently give another team excuse to assume the emotional upper-hand in championship play.
Promoted and idolized like ‘Three Kings’ in premature, pre-season fanfare (separate from teammates) as Heat executives looked on, all smacked of the highest arrogance. Most fans resented the egomaniacal behavior while many in the media ate it up with a spoon and then, as usual, bolted from the dinner table at the first whiff of trouble (losses).
The fact that the gods had already witnessed a similar but more modest, title-taking team in Boston just three years earlier made Miami’s tacky two-step appear slightly out-of-step.
By the time the taunting twosome (James & Wade) began mocking Finals opponent Dirk Nowitzki and his 102° fever, the sporting gods had seen enough. Eager to close the books on the Heat they made sure the Mavericks settled the series in Salsa City.
But all’s not lost in Miami. Jalen Rose said it well: the Heat were “ahead of the curve” in 2011 (ESPN). What he didn’t say was that they also played above their heads (like Bulls, OKC & Grizzlies) as neither road to the Finals proved very arduous with the Celtics, Lakers and Spurs looking tired & lost while the Knicks and Magic proved to be great pretenders.
So how do the Heat appease the gods?
First, by acting like a team, on & off the court.
It’s no surprise that however the Trio go, the Heat go. What is surprising is they seem fine with it. Though Spoelstra’s still an enigma, talk of Riley’s return to coaching feels like panic. Erik’s gotta’ risk his job, butt heads with egos, take possession of the team, spread the ball around and see what perimeter men he may already have on his bench.
Next, he’s gotta’ persuade, then train, James and Bosh to become inside men.
With their size but spotty touch, Bosh (6’10) and James (6’8 / 250) should be posting low and stop acting like sharpshooters Worthy and Wilkins. How do you think Dirk finally found his way to a title, sinking 3s? He played to his 7’0 frame and moved inside: 12-footers, driving left, weak-side right and double-digit boards. It’s no sin but the only things more annoying to the sporting gods than talk of Karma and rim-hang is playing outta’ position.
Anger your hometown and be sad…anger the basketball gods and you’ll be sorry.
Keys to Sport
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.