Dwyane Wade is The Next Michael Jordan, and Not in A Good Way
I have made my dislike of professional basketball pretty well known to anybody who associates with me. Never was this better demonstrated than last night when I watched all nine innings of the Marlins-Giants game, opting for that over the entire first half of the Heat's playoff match-up with Detroit. But I came to yet another revelation last night as I watched Miami take one more step towards their first Finals appearance: I don't like them either.
Now, anyone who knows me knows I pretty much only root for underdogs. And the Heat, at least at the beginning of this series, were definitely not the favorites. But they are the type of team I don't like: That is a team with superstars. Since the fall of the Laker Dynasty, the NBA has gotten a lot better. The team game has started to return and the champions have been teams like Detroit, whose first title team lacked an All-Star, and San Antonio, a team without a marketable superstar (Tim Duncan is about as dynamic as a paperclip). While commentators constant adoration of Duncan got a little old, it was nice to see teams winning championships that were not media darlings. But now come the Heat, a group led by the biggest of all big-market forces in Shaq and the NBA's new poster boy, Dwyane Wade. Both guys are likable, both guys are talented, and both will reap millions if the Heat win it all. The problem is, should the Heat win, the NBA model will once again change to a "let's find a star and win with him" game rather than a "let's find a bunch of guys who play their roles well and win" game. Michael Jordan had the same effect and almost completely ruined the game. Had it not been for the Pistons and Spurs, the NBA would still be unwatchable.
If the Heat win, every quick kid is going to hog the ball and insist he is the next "D-Wade." Every big guy is going to insist on getting "fed" and act like he is the next Shaq. Not that they aren't already, but it will lead to another generation of "me first" players as opposed to team-oriented guys. This is arguably why the world consistanly beats us at basketball since the concept of a team game was lost as soon as Jordan got his first shoe deal. If teams like Detroit, who play that team style of basketball, dominate the NBA for the next ten years or so, perhaps they can undo a lot of the damage that Jordan did. The Heat winning will just further validate the "I can make acrobatic shots and therefore I am the best player ever" philosophy that made the post-Jordan era perhaps the worst since the late-70's.
And while you can't dislike Dwyane Wade, I am entirely tired of hearing about how AMAZING he is. We get it. He's good. Can we talk about something else? Please? It's like watching any Packer game and listneing to them drone on and on and on about Brett Favre. I'm sure Bill Walton is happy the Heat are winning as he will have someone to verbally fellate during the finals. I'm not sure what Bill Walton would do during a superstar-less chamionship series. Perhaps shut up, which would be a blessing for us all.
So, again, I am coming out of the closet. Go Pistons! You are good for basketball. I like Dallas, too, as they also lack that one player who everyone loves to suck off (Dirk Nowitzki is constantly criticized for his lack of defense, although this year he has been vastly improved) and would be a good team to see win as well. Maybe even better than Detroit since they actually try and, you know, score. But if the Heat win, and God forbid win multiple championships, it will put team basketball back to 1998 and we will again be thrust into the "me" era that just recently seemed to be subsiding.