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07/03/2006: "The Champ Is Here: The Reasons Why The Miami Heat Are NBA Champions"

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The Champ is Here
Written By Robert Littal
Email Robert Littal

I hate to say "I told you so", but I told you so. The Miami Heat are your NBA Champs and I will break down how and why it happen.

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Here are some quotes from various emails I received when the Heat were down 0-2.

“Littal you are a fraud, the Heat suck and you should not quit your day job”

“You suck man, just because of you I put $100 on Dallas, so I guess I should be
grateful that you are so horrible at picking winners.”

“What was you smoking man? Stick to writing about Kobe and leave the predictions
to the professionals.”

First off, I am not going to lie to you, after the Heat went down 0-2 and were getting
their brains beat in for 3 and half quarters of Game 3, I flinched. I have never backed down
from my predictions; it is one of the things that I am most proud of. If I wrong, I man up and
give credit where credit is due. Yes, I was wrong about Texas vs. USC and Seattle vs.
Pittsburgh, but not wrong in the sense that the premise of the predictions was incorrect. But
with the Heat prediction it was different in the fact that everything I had forecasted was
going to horribly wrong. I wondered how I, “the Bonfide Sports Expert”, could be this way
off, but then I remembered and more importantly the Heat remembered why I picked them in
the first place. Lets break down what happen in this series and why the Heat are wearing
the crown and not the Mavericks.

#1 email question I have received over the last week:

“What do you think about the refs, since it was you, that first pointed out that David
Stern and the refs would be against the Mavs and Mark Cuban?”

I want to get this out of the way first because it is an excellent question and one I
opened up myself to by putting it out there. The answer is that I don’t think the reason why
the Mavs lost the series was because of the refs (more on why the Mavs did lose later).
The refereeing in the NBA as a whole is horrible. The refereeing in the Playoffs was
horrible as well. It is not like we woke up this morning and realized that the refs were going
to blow a few calls. Many of us in the media including the genius that is Bill Simmons of
ESPN.com (see his Page 2 Article on the Refs) saw this coming before the series even
started. I even predicted a prominent Mavs player would be suspended and it happen. The
thing is, it is not like the refs were any good up to this point, so should we have expected
anything better? Also to be fair if you watched game 6 there were several calls that were
suspect against the Heat (see a double dribble and a traveling call in the last 5 minutes)
then again there was that phantom foul on Dirk when Wade hit him with a forearm while
dribbling by, I am still trying to figure that one out, but I digress. The point is that you can’t
make excuses when you already know what you have to deal with. At this point using the
refs as a cop out is a weak argument at best.

No, Dwyane Wade is not the 2nd coming of Michael Jordan (see article:Michael
Jordan is dead
). Dwyane Wade is creating his own legacy and his own legend. He single
handily won this series. Great players take over games. Legendary players take over
series. Once in a generation players take over NBA Finals series. The most impressive
thing about Wade’s performance was the fact that Shaq (more on him later) played horribly
for all 6 games. Wade was alone on an island with his team in jeopardy of going down 3-0
and he made the decision that it was not going to happen. One trait of a great player is
when the other team knows you are going get the ball and they still cannot stop you. The
Mavericks have 1 great player (Dirk), 3 very good players (Terry, Howard and Stackhouse)
and a ton of excellent roles players (Harris, Dampier, Jiop, Griffin and Van Horn), but they
couldn’t beat 1 transcendent player.

So what does this mean for Wade? Even before the series there was a legit debate
that he was the best player in the league. That was with no ring and the majority of people
giving Shaq a lot of the credit for his success. So what do you say now that he was the #1,
2 and 3 reasons the Heat won the Finals and Shaq played like Manute Bol? Out of the
young guns the league is promoting (Lebron, Carmelo, Bosh, Arenas, etc etc) he is clearly
now #1. He has what they don’t “a ring” and when it comes down to legacy all that matters
is championships and he is 1-up and that makes him the King (pun definitely intended).

His standing in the league is a bit harder to determine only because you still have
players like Duncan or Kobe with multiple rings, but any discussions about who are the best
players in the league his name should be one of the first that comes out of everyone’s
mouth. The main thing he has shown the world is that killer instinct, that never say die
attitude that turns good players into great players and great players into players that
everyone is compared to. You never know what the future holds, but I am confident there
will come a point in time where a rookie comes into the league doing amazing things and will
be compared to a very special player and I will have to write an article titled “Dwayne Wade
is Dead”.

I have been critical of Shaq for a lot of different reasons over the years. His lack of
conditioning, his part in the feud with Kobe and his departure from LA. One thing has
remained constant; I have always said that if Shaq wins a title outside of LA, I would declare
him the winner in the fiasco of what happen with him leaving Lakers. It does not matter that
he had a horrible series that confirmed that he is on the decline of his career. The fact is
that he promised a championship to the city of Miami and he delivered. He accepted the
fact (something that he never did in LA) that this was Dwyane Wade’s team and he would
be the main reason why they would win a championship, not Shaq. Both the Lakers and
Shaq gambled when he was traded to the Heat. Shaq has cashed in on his bet. No one
knows if the Lakers ever will.

The castoffs as I call them didn’t do much, but they did just enough to help secure
them a ring. Gary Peyton (2 big shots), Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, Alonzo Mourning,
James Posey and Udonis Haslem made enough clutch plays to finally get the monkey off
their back. For players like Peyton and Mourning, they successfully piggybacked their way
to a ring and won’t be considered great players who never got their title. For Williams and
Walker it most be especially sweet because lets be honest they had a rep of being players
that you could never win a championship with. If you are Chris Webber or Paul Pierce you
must be in shock right now.

Dallas fans this is the section that I want you to pay close attention to. As I pointed out
above, yes Dallas got a raw deal with some calls, but that was not the reason they lost the
series. Here are the reasons they lost the series in chronological order.

1- Blew a 13 point lead with 6 minutes to go in Game 3
2- Dirk missed free throw in Game 3
3- Bad Final Play Call in Game 3
4- Josh Howard missed free throws Game 5
5- Dirk missed free throw Game 5
6- Time Out Gate

To be honest #2-6 are irrelevant, the only that matters is #1. The Heat were a team
on the verge of quitting, their fans had turned on them and they were hanging their heads.
Dallas made the mistake that great teams simply do not do. They relaxed; they assumed
the Heat will gracefully bow out. You never do that when a team has a player of the caliber
of Dwyane Wade on their side. If that was Vince Carter the game would have been over,
but it wasn’t and as soon as the Heat got close the Mavs mental will was broken and once
Dirk missed that free throw that he would normally never missed it was destine that they
would never recover.

The Mavs had an opportunity to guarantee that the refs would never have a chance to
screw them, so in essence they only screwed themselves. They weren’t mentally tough
enough to put a team away when they were on their deathbed and for that reason and that
reason only the Mavs didn’t win the NBA Title.