Wow. If this team wasn't interesting enough already, now this crying ridiculousness provides a whole new element.
Couple things that are driving me crazy today:
First, the idea that the Heat players "crying" (there's a reason I put crying in quotes, which I'll explain) after the game indicates any sort of softness or lack of mental toughness or inability to handle this pressure or any garbage like that is absolutely ridiculous. All it shows is a passion that's so enormous that it comes out that way. You've heard of players laughing after or during a loss, and those guys are absolutely raked over the coals. You've heard of guys being unable to control their emotions so they'll yell at teammates or break things or anything over-the-top demonstrative, and those guys get criticized.
Give me the crying teammate any day. Amare Stoudemire talking trash about it is totally uncalled for (he and Carmelo reportedly laughed about Heat crying and commented on it). Not sure why these guys in New York feel like they're the voice of all of sports. Why is he chiming in on this or the BYU player being dismissed? Since when is Stoudemire the voice of reason in sports?
These Heat players are hurting, yet they're not turning on each other, they're coming together even more after a game like that -- at least that's how it would appear. After that Orlando game, I wasn't sure which direction this would go. But after this game, with the best player in the world apologizing for failing and the rest of the team having his back, this is very likely going to be a game, a moment, that unifies this team.
The other part about the whole crying issue, is it might have been an overstatement. Erik Spoelstra used the word "crying," when he might have wanted to say "got choked up." Now, is that the same to you? It kind of is to me, because the point remains the same, they're passionate and hate what's happening right now.
The other part of the daily comments today (both in my email folder and on talk radio, etc.) that's making me crazy is the whole Mike Miller foul, not-a-foul discussion.
OK, I'll repeat this much: It wasn't a foul. Did he have his hands on Luol Deng, yes, but he didn't push Deng. Even if he tried to push Deng, it wouldn't have resulted in that violent a fall. Deng tripped.
Now, the fact that I bring that up either in this blog or in my column does NOT mean that I, or anyone else that I've heard comment on the foul, is calling that the reason the Heat lost the game. Would that have helped? Of course. But so would've a couple of those Miller threes dropping. Was it at a crucial time? Yes. But so was LeBron's final shot when he chose to take on Joakim Noah. So, no, it wasn't THE reason they lost. And for that matter, the reason I bring it up at all in the column is to prove how something as minor as a bounce and/or a whistle can either prolong the Heat's misery or change the outlook entirely...
His intentions were good. He wanted to show just how badly this team wants to win. That's fine. But at the moment it left his lips, he probably realized, just like everyone else, that this team is looked upon differently, and somehow that display of passion would be portrayed as a sign of weakness.
If Gregg Popovich were to come out after a tough loss and say something to effect of "Manu is torn up about this loss. He actually cried a little bit in there," no one would respond with, "Wow, Manu's a wimp, can't handle the pressure." But with this team, the world is waiting for an opportunity to bash it, and Spo opened that door.
And add to that the fact that these guys, the big three primarily, are well aware of what outsiders want to hear, and they're probably not happy that Spo let that cat out of the bag. Again, I think the word "crying" was a bit of an overstatement, but there remains a negative perception attached to this, which is crazy.
Wasn't it Pat Riley who was happy when he drafted Caron Butler because Caron was the only one crying when he got selected? There's nothing wrong with it.
Finally, there's this: Even after all this misery, even after the 2,800-word blog entry that criticized the Heat for that second half against the Magic, I still believe they will be an extremely tough out in the playoffs. At least against either the Bulls or Magic -- teams that people believe have either surpassed or catching up to the Heat. That's because the stars will be engaged throughout those games. They will be playing defense every possession, not every other possession or every other quarter. When they're doing that, the offensive execution becomes less of a problem because, a) the opponent won't be scoring much, and b) they can run off those defensive stops or turnovers.
The Bulls have won, basically, three one-possession games against the Heat. That doesn't prove they're "better" than Miami. That proves they can beat Miami. Well, it also proves the Heat is right there. It's easy to say the Heat would lose to the Bulls right now, because that's all they've done this year. But the only pattern in those games is that they were close. They've all had unique elements to them that you can't necessarily say will translate into the postseason. The Heat can absolutely lose to the Bulls in a playoff series. But they can easily win that series as well.