- HEAT Video
Earning an NBA Championship
Jun 23 2012 1:59PM
Every member of the Miami HEAT earned this, the franchiseís second NBA Championship. They earned it by changing, not by making all the right moves but by making the moves they believed were correct. A title will always validate the choices made over the course of a year, but forget about the final scores, the shots that went in and the plays that were made, and the HEAT still came as close to earning the ultimate result as you can before actually doing so.
You can win being right. You can win being wrong. But Miami earned their win by preparing themselves to be as right as possible.
Because Norris Cole worked all season, after every practice, trying to become a spot-up shooter with NBA range. And for a few precious threes in the NBA Finals, it paid off.
Because Juwan Howard, 17, has seen things you wouldnít believe. And now he gets to chill.
Because James Jones filled a thankless role. He played, then he didnít. He made threes and he missed them. He was a shooter every single time he was asked to be.
Because Joel Anthony turned years of ridicule, both good-natured and not, into a career-year both catching and finishing around the rim. He was able to laugh at himself. He never complained. His teammates trusted him that, in three minutes or thirty, they had his help defense.
Because Udonis Haslem was himself even when he wasnít playing like himself for much of the season. He was a constant even when his shot was inconsistent.
They earned this moment because Mario Chalmers cares. No, it doesnít matter to him one bit whether itís a 20-point game in January or a two-point game in June, but he cares enough to swallow his pride and listen to teammates that not only need him to succeed, but want him to as well. Chalmers could have made things about himself, but through highs and lows, he didnít. Instead, he took thousands of threes to be prepared for the hundreds he would take, and earned a career-high percentage.
This was earned because, holy hell, Mike Miller was Boromir. He could barely stand up straight, much less run up and down the court, but there he was diving to the floor, drawing charges, taking arrows to the chest for his teammates and still getting up, time and again, to shoot another day. If ever a basketball player truly left it all on the court, it was Miller, gluing together the HEATís most effective lineups even when he was barely glued together himself, defying logic for a night of 7-for-8 three-point poetry.
Shane Battier earned this because Shane Battier earns things. He was diligent in his preparation against his most familiar foes and adherent to educated reason even when the short-term numbers screamed, ĎNo.í He played out of position. He defended the best. He made things work in Miamiís most dire moments of need. He was the self-proclaimed basketball nerd that just shot 15-of-26 in a championship series and never regressed to the mean, relatively speaking.
Chris Bosh earned this because he was willing to do what was necessary. When he was asked to facilitate from the high post, he did so. When he was asked to stretch the floor even further, he expanded his range. Roll? He rolled. Pop? He popped. He played the defense that Miami would not have won without. He became the center he never thought he would become, and not only accepted but embraced that transition.
Dwyane Wade earned this because it wasnít easy. He had to play less like the player he used to be and more like the player he will and was needed to be. He had to let go of shots he used to take and embrace moving without the ball. He had to make plays that were less about the score and more about everything leading up to the score. Through it all, he had to manufacture chaos and be spectacular. By doing all of that, he did the most selfless thing possible: he built up those around him.
Erik Spoelstra earned this because he never slept. Darker and darker grew the bags under his eyes during the season without practice, with every extra hour he sat in his office poring over information adding another fraction of a percentage point to his teamís overall awareness. He experimented; he tried new things and never wavered as perception shifted back and forth between the extremes. He evolved as much as any player, and even when possessions went awry, he chased efficiency. He stuck to what he believed in, but when new data presented itself, he re-evaluated his beliefs.
LeBron James earned this because it had to be earned. He improved because he knew he had to improve and changed because he knew he had to change. He became a power forward and possibly the best defensive player in the league. He became a point guard from the post. He played the way he believed he needed to play to win.
He was the best player in the NBA. Then he got better.
The HEAT earned this because they sacrificed. Because they put what was difficult in front of what was fun. The HEAT earned this because they worked to put themselves in the most probable position to win an NBA Championship. And then they did, but thatís almost beside the point.