Ok, so let's get the simpleton stuff out of the way. The Wizards, once again, played down to the level of their opponent, which sounds extremely odd to say considering they played the NBA's best team, the Miami Heat. Miami took advantage of a stretch of a couple minutes when the Wiz Kids went cold in the 4th quarter and behind the 3-point shooting of Rashard Lewis (yes, that guy), Mike Miller (yea, that guy as well) and Shane Battier (cue the 'f**k Duke' chants).
The Heat defeated the Wizards by a final score of 103-98 in front of an extremely disappointed sell out crowd and media at the Verizon Center. Just to give you an idea of what kind of game it was, Ray Allen and A.J. Price lead all players in scoring with 23 points apiece. My colleague Mike Andrews had the best comment of the night. In the middle of the 2nd quarter, while both teams were playing sloppy basketball, he turned to me and said, "This is like an All-Star game, without the all-stars." That comment has inspired me to write this not-so-conventional recap in which I will destroy the Miami Heat, their coaches, and the rest of the NBA for allowing such a tragedy to take place.
A couple hours before the game, I read a piece in the Washington Post by Mike Wise which defended the Miami Heat for letting them bench their "big 3" and his defense was that their streak "saved the NBA's regular season."
Let me start off by addressing Mr Wise:
I respect your journalistic integrity, pedigree and everything else that you've accomplished. I probably won't even accomplish 1% of what you have in your field. I have a great deal of respect for your opinion, but it doesn't mean it's correct. With that said, you're completely wrong about this and you should be a little embarrassed about it. Take the media hat off your head for one second and think about about how the Heat, the NBA and the rest of the league have a responsibility to the fans to give them the best product on the court. With all due respect sir, this was a sport that was in a lockout just one season ago, was it not?
The people who saved the regular season wasn't Lebron, Kobe, Melo or any other player on any other team. It was the fans. The fans were the ones who renewed their season tickets, the fans are the one who go see the Wizards take on the Bobcats and the fans are the ones who shelled out $1000 for a lower level ticket while Miami was in the middle of their streak to see Lebron and Wade play in their home town city. So to sit there and say that the Heat saved the regular season is completely a joke to me. Quite frankly, it should offend every regular NBA fan out there today, and I'm sure it has. If you want to rest the starters, go ahead and rest them. But at least have them play one quarter or a half, especially on the road when the home team crowd doesn't get to see them everyday, much like the Heat fans who don't even show up until halftime of their home games anyway.
The Heat's streak, or any lengthy streak would mean nothing in sports if it wasn't for the loyalty and top dollar of the blue collar NBA fan who's willing to shell out big money to see players like Lebron dribble a basketball or dunk in their city. I saw thousands of little kids wearing their #6 Lebron jerseys like I would wear my Jordan jersey. It's almost like the NBA has forgotten that they were in shambles not too long ago and needed the support of the fans to bail them out. I assure you little 5 year old Johnny doesn't care about Norris Cole's haircut or Chris Andersen's child porn scandal as they chant out "let's go Heat!" They want to see Lebron and they want to see him dunk, even if it's only for a quarter.
The Heat franchise and the NBA owe it to the youth. Don't sit there and post up advertisements highlighting your community service when you won't even step onto the court to entertain someone who shelled out big money months in advance to see you play in D.C. It took a 27-game win streak just for Miami to outlast San Antonio for the best record in the league. When Greg Popovich benched his starters early in the year, David Stern placed a $250,000 fine on the franchise. I don't expect any action to be taken against the Heat. And it's a shame. Not only is it a shame, it's a tragedy to the game and I feel embarrassed that a D.C. based reporter would feel like this kind of behavior is tolerable because they somehow "saved the regular season." There were plenty of story lines to follow before Miami's winning streak. While it ultimately might be the one that stands out the most, what is going to mean if they don't win it all? NOTHING.
I understand the concept of resting players in meaningless games and I understand the concept of doing what's in the best interest for your team. Randy Wittman himself in the pregame presser told the media that, "They're playing for something a little different than we are now. You can argue either point." Coach said the right thing to the media. I'm sure he, just like the rest of the Wizards team, would've liked to see how they fared against a full Miami Heat roster, which, oh by the way, they beat earlier in the season without John Wall or Nene. They sat out due to injury. Not because they were being babied.
Last night, in my eyes, emphasized everything that's wrong in today's NBA. Players are overvalued, overhyped and the fans always lose. No one cares about the money people spend at the games because ultimately the albatross contracts of scrub guys like Rashard Lewis and Mike Miller don't hold matter when you're talking about an average fan paying above average ticket prices to see below average basketball. Catch my drift?
Bandwagon Heat Fans paid $500 for a ticket to see Lebron and Wade play but instead got a Jan Vesely and Chris Andersen match up. While I'm sure that's great for people like me covering the NBA Summer League in Vegas, it's not what the bandwagon Lebron fans had in mind. At the end of the day, no one will care because the Verizon Center sold out, the league made money and Lebron got his game check. Meanwhile. Johnny has to wait until next season until his favorite player comes back to D.C. and even that isn't guaranteed anymore.
Stop babying the players, stop robbing the fans of the game day experience. The least you could've done is play the starters for a quarter on the road. I don't think that's asking for too much.