x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Best laid plans coming apart for LeBron James and Miami Heat

Miami lost at home in a performance of uncommon ugliness, then went to Indiana and got destroyed. The hope of a reversible deficit has yielded to the garish look of the team in that deficit.

Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) and Dwyane Wade, right, leave the court after losing 94-75 to the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of their NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Thursday, May 17, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) *** Local Caption *** APTOPIX Heat Pacers Basketball.JPEG-05730.jpg
Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) and Dwyane Wade, right, leave the court after losing 94-75 to the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of their NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Thursday, May 17, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) *** Local Caption *** APTOPIX Heat Pacers Basketball.JPEG-05730.jpg

Some of the best radio in the history of radio has played here in Miami in recent days.

You might find yourself sitting in the car even after arrival, listening to more. Traffic fails to annoy; it allows for more radio. You can make a wrong turn and not care, as if subconsciously you made the wrong turn purposely.

One of the loudest sports teams ever has shown hints of implosion, flopping in play-off games both on Tuesday and Thursday to the Indiana Pacers. Some people have felt the fundamental human need to dial a radio show and howl.

Others have listened feverishly, in part because we are strange creatures drawn to a good implosion.

The starry Miami Heat of the NBA and of LeBron James, so noisy when assembled two summers ago, have begun to stoke other noise, that of the distinctive anguish that follows runaway hope.

The hope started in July 2010 and warrants a place in any Lack of Shrewdness Hall of Fame.

Miami signed the mighty James plus the versatile, 6ft 11 ins all-star Chris Bosh. Both would complement Dwyane Wade, who already hauled the 2006 team to an NBA title as One Of The Best Five Players On Earth.

The franchise held a rally in the arena in the deadness of July to introduce the trio in yet another feat of American razzmatazz. Smoke billowed. Fireworks materialised. Basketball lovers momentarily forgot that basketball is played five to a side rather than three.

James famously and jokingly tallied the forthcoming titles as "not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven," apparently meaning eight and not meaning zero.

It earned him guff ever since, but he did hit on something. The idea of one did seem puny.

The idea of getting snared in the second round of the four-round play-offs seemed ... well, it didn't seem anything, because nobody ever entertained it.

The lavishly refurbished Heat reached the NBA Finals last year but lost to the Dallas Mavericks, thrilling every part of the vast nation except Miami. Stirring, but it did not deter the idea of the Heat as future title-holders.

The second edition of James-Wade-Bosh tore through New York in the first round this spring.

They won Game 1 of the second series against the admirable but semi-anonymous Indiana, except that in that game, Bosh descended both to the floor and to an abdominal strain. He has sat out since.

That threw doubt upon an eventual title, but Miami did figure to handle Indiana.

They have James, the league Most Valuable Player and mastodon. They have Wade, One Of The Five Best Players On Earth.

They also have leaks, spewing everywhere and brewing great radio.

Miami lost at home in a performance of uncommon ugliness, then went to Indiana and got destroyed. The hope of a reversible deficit has yielded to the garish look of the team in that deficit.

Fans and commentators pillory the feckless other players, proving that people do know their names in Miami at least.

Nobody other than James or Wade scored more than five points in Game 2, and Shane Battier, one of the more capable supporting actors, shot 0-for-7 in Game 3.

Even with open shots provided by the distractions of James and Wade, the team spent the first three games shooting a microscopic five-for-42 from three-point range.

That is 11 per cent only if you round it up. James floundered at the foul line, making nine of 16 in Games 2 and 3.

All of that could wreak ample baying, but another factor fed a crescendo.

While everyone knows that Wade is One Of The Five Best Players On Earth because, well, everyone knows that, he has not resembled One Of The Best 100.

He shot eight-for-23 in Game 1, eight-for-22 in Game 2 and a stagnant two-for-13 in Game 3.

That's rare enough for an ingenious scorer, but his Game 3 clunker clunked enough to loose commotion.

One: It sparked a salient question about whether an NBA superstar had ever gone so neutralised in a play-off game. That does make for fine radio.

Two: It revealed the heightened state of human impatience circa 2012, when fans will scream on the air for the trade of a longtime pillar merely 30 years old. That, too, makes for fine radio.

Three: Nothing trumps the sound of fans who never, ever expected their entitled Miami Heat to wrestle with Indiana in the second round.

That, too, makes for fine radio. Turn off the music. Turn on the chatter. What excellent fortune, to happen upon these days in Miami.

cculpepper@thenational.ae

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