The Heat at the Half: Part 1 of at least 2

Wade gamewinner

“Being crazy isn’t enough.”
– Dr. Seuss

Note to the reader – First, a confession. I’m lazy. The good kind of lazy that finds faster, more efficient ways to complete things which generally leads to innovation and invention, but lazy all the same. I began this piece during the peaks and valleys W/L runs following the Dwyane Wade game winner against the Memphis Grizzlies (pictured above). Now the trade deadline (yawn) has come and gone and I’m still not sure what to make of this Miami Heat team and I have no idea what to say about the current roster construction, season altering injuries and the effects of the trade deadline. Thus, I put away the work I’d done up to that point and reduced it back to the original outline of ideas, which you will now get to experience raw.  (FYI: Part 2 of this piece is a fun collage of Chris Bosh’s Miami Heat highlights and career moments. Look for it in late 2018!)

Note to the author – You are out of milk.

Note to the editor – Pam, this is not a message board.

Ahem.

When I decide to write something, my process is probably not much different from actual skilled people of the written word. My recipe is three steps. First off, jot down the most clever musings you can come up with while inside one of those money grab wind tunnel machines. Add a bit of virgin blood (there is plenty on twitter, check my mentions), some papaya and the finger bone of a former ESPN talking head (the more obscure the better). Using mortar and pestle, mix the ingredients together until you have a lumpy paste. Finally, on a 13×9 cookie sheet create lumps of thoughts that look like this: 💩. Makes approximately all the hot takes.

In truth, I actually keep a running notepad++ file of nothing but witty thoughts because of my grandfather. The two of us always loved hoarding one liners or dirty limericks to unleash on each other whenever the chance arose. My Pops won every time, but only because he deployed a weapon of mass destruction in the perfect Lou Costello impression.

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Coach, out of 5, how many stars would you give this article?

So here are some lazy, random, insightful, and poorly thought out observations from my sleeping mind on the subject of the 2015-16 Miami Heat season at the halfway point OR feel free to avoid this train wreck and watch something actually entertaining from BriTANick:

  • Erik Spoelstra quietly has the greatest facial expression game in the NBA after Pop.
  • The Miami Heat promotional department is second to none. These two fantastic, short clips inspired by 90s TV will make your soul happy (found HERE and HERE ).
  • Josh McRoberts put 0 points in his injury attribute.
  • Luol Deng shoots his jumper as if Tom Thibodeau were still holding him around the ankles.
  • Brian Roberts’ jersey should be retired to the rafters. The number it adorns could represent Mickey Arison’s tax savings for the season.
  • Twitter has fired Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley numerous times this season. Twitter is stupid.
  • I have never seen a team miss more lay-ups and bunnies in my life.
  • I have never seen a team miss more wide open three pointers in my life.
  • Luol Deng’s all around game is criminally underrated. Also, how crazy is it that BoB and Tila Tequila believe the Earth is as flat as Deng’s jump shot trajectory?
  • I wonder how many of us shrugged off the Rio trade and now miss him like the ex that got away. I miss you Jacquelyn, come home please.
  • When the Heat have been getting destroyed this season, I find myself watching the bench interactions more than the basketball. I highly recommend this. Justise Winslow has some amazing animated reactions. Before the trade, you could catch Udonis and Bird with hilarious expressions. And Spo is always high comedy.
  • Because out of timeout plays are so much more effective for the Heat, I start to question during offensive droughts whether it is possible for them to somehow run every possession out of a timeout.
  • I like ‘the idea’ of Hassan Whiteside. I also like the idea of bacon condoms.
  • This Miami Heat team often plays like a group of dinosaurs who got together for a pickup game that ended up trapped in a tar pit.
  • Gerald Green leaps like a Jedi but shoots like a stormtrooper.
  • If McBob learned to unleash a hair whip attack as he drove the lane, he would be unstoppable. [immediately following McRobert’s haircut] NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
  • I’m going to miss Udonis Haslem so much.
  • The most amusing people I follow on twitter are the Heat fans that think Michael Beasley and Steve Novak are actual NBA basketball players.
  • Speaking of ancient basketball players, the way Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony were deemed possible saviors during the trade deadline was disappointing, twitter.
  • I am a fan of Justise Winslow. Quietly, his shot has improved and his minutes have increased, specifically in crunch time.
  • Something Justise Winslow should open up a camp and teach other NBA players is when to contest a shot and when to attempt to block a shot. Winslow rarely fouls a jump shooter or gives up a three-point play chance because of his footwork and discipline.
  • The Heat offense without Chris Bosh is fairly easy to defend. Collapse the paint, maintain contact with Wade. That’s about all you need to do. Strangely, without both Bosh and Wade, the Heat are more difficult to key on because there is no focal point outside of Goran.
  • Beno Udrih is fun.
  • Post All-Star weekend, the Heat are running out a lineup of Dragic, Deng, Winslow and McBob that does nothing but play like they were all snorting rocket fuel in the huddle. Transition offense, pace, and shot attempts are all way up. A cool part of the scheme change is that all 4 guys are running the instant they get a rebound, attacking before the defense has a chance to reset.
  • The Miami Heat won a game this season while not hitting a 3 point shot. They also put up over 114 points making only two 3 pointers (credit to Tom Haberstroh). This team may shoot like Carlton from long distance, but they score exceptionally in the paint. Spoelstra is a genius.
  • I haven’t been to a Heat game since the banner raising in 2013. I think it is time to rectify that.
  • After watching the remnants of this Heat squad rattle off two very impressive wins, maybe being crazy is enough. RELEASE THE BEASLEY (nah).
  • And my final thought on the mid-season is simple and straight-forward: Get well soon, Chris Bosh, we miss you.
ChrisBosh3
#1 on our team and #1 in our hearts

*Of course, I wouldn’t be half as funny or interesting if I didn’t steal at least two-thirds of my material from my followers, so I’m going to challenge everyone to post a comment with your observation for the year. If I like it, I’ll add it to a second list and update this post as I see fit.
**By the way, if you readers don’t comment, I’ll tell you exactly what is going to end up happening. I’m eventually going to get bored, create fake accounts and write my own amazingly inaccurate comments and then attribute them to my followers randomly. So win-win, really.

The Quarter Season Heat Report: Advanced Delusionary Schizophrenia with Involuntary Narcissistic Rage

The Ego, the Idiot and Hank.

The affliction that makes Jim Carrey’s Charlie Baileygates/Hank Evans such a memorable character in the Farrelly brothers’ comedy Me, Myself & Irene is the same that frames the 2015 iteration of the Miami Heat as fun and frustrating, exhilarating and horrifying, frenetic and sluggish. Sometimes exhibiting the demeanor of sensitive good guy Charlie, other times bullying like bad boy Hank and, on rare occasion, listless like the portrayal of Renée Zellweger’s Irene; this basketball team definitely suffers from advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage.

The Heat are currently (16-10) and 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Play of late has been uneven and inconsistent. The team goes through stretches, mainly in the early 1st and 3rd quarters, where the starting five look like they’ve never even met each other before. At times, the offense looks like a five man pick up scrimmage at the local Y rather than an organized  scheme. The defense has a very 2013 Miami Heat switch flipping quality to it, but this version is neither as athletic nor as able to take advantage of fast breaks as the Flying Death Machine days of yore.

Yet, when things click and the trio of Wade, Bosh and Dragic begin humming in the pick and roll game and Deng and rookie Justise Winslow’s defense are on lockdown and Whiteside starts swatting and flexing, the Heat look like contenders. At least in the Eastern Conference.

In short, this team is nuts. So the Charlie/Hank/Irene dynamic fits into how I’ve been watching Heat games lately. me, myself and ireneIf you were to consider the characters in the movie as the three segments of the human psyche (id, ego, superego), for instance, Charlie would be the part of the ego that convinces you to stay home Saturday night because your cat might get lonely.

Thus, there is very little Charlie in one Mr. Dwyane Wade. It only really exudes in the manner in which advanced stats tell the story of his season. Wade is undergoing a mild renaissance in terms of playing time as he’s only missed a single game this season. He’s currently averaging 18.5 ppg (8th*), and is in the top 10 of NBA shooting guards in a variety of categories.  You’d also notice that while he is 3rd among qualified shooting guards in assists per game at 4.5, he is also bottom 5 in turnovers per game with 2.5.  Split personality much? Furthermore, Wade ranks top 10 in blocks and when he is active the number of blocks the Heat generate increases significantly, but the numbers show us that when he is not on the court the team’s overall defense improves. What is this madness?

Let’s move on. To me, the Irene character is the uneven, unsure, waffling voice that is innate in all of us. When Wade gets in his Irene, he tends to play with an attitude of slovenly expectation, questioning the reliability of his teammates and going full hero mode. Let’s be honest with each other, okay? Witnessing the soon to be 34 year old shooting guard cross over defenders and get to the rim is a phenomenally enjoyable experience. Watching him miss a layup because he expects the foul to be called and then the ensuing argument with the referee instead of getting back on defense makes me wish I was this cow:

cow

The cow pictured above is also a metaphor for Dwyane Wade’s desire to take ill-advised, long jumpers in the 4th quarter of close games. And the homicidal state trooper is a metaphor for the process I wish Erik Spoelstra would use to explain how efficiency works.

“Oh yeah? Well, this is just a fist. But when I start throwing it around, it can leave one hell of a mess.” -Hank Evans

And thus, we come to the fun part of the article. My favorite character in Me, Myself & Irene is Hank Evans. I think he won me over when he said, “Yes, I tricked you. It was deceitful, it was disgusting and despicable. But just for once, see it from my side.” Hank Evans is a cocky, foul-mouthed, don’t give a flip** archetype who exists as an unstoppable confidence machine that hands out one-liners and challenges like Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are handing out Ls. Did I mention that Dwyane Wade is Hank Evans on a basketball court?

hankevans
What are you looking at, trucker**?

The range and sheer number of brilliant plays made night to night that keep your head shaking and faith strong in the Hall of Famer continue a career of excellence. This version of Wade emerges when the shooting guard puts the team on his back and says “I got this.” And don’t be fooled, this team desperately needs him to turn this on from time to time. There are moments when the Heat offense crumbles into Gerald Green chuck and pray shots, and it is in these moments that Wade’s veteran savvy, will and guile are needed.

Whewade-bosh1n Wade responds, it is usually with the same kind of emphatic resonance that Hank would appreciate. In the Heat’s 100-97 home win against the Grizzlies, Wade made several key plays on both sides of the ball to secure an end to the team’s three game losing streak culminating in this jumpshot with 21.9 seconds left followed by a Hank-esque string of obscenities, some incredible defensive focus and then the win.

It has been said that most of the time the crazy creeps up on you.

“Listen, Pocahontas, unless you put your ear to the ground, you’ll never hear the buffalo comin’!” -Hank Evans

And sometimes the crazy was there all along.

Hassan Whiteside is an NBA anomaly. His stats, attitude, play style, physical and mental aptitudes and a myriad of other effects and mutant factoids make up the cartoon character that plays center for the Miami Heat. The brash, talented big man with a penchant for dunking, posing, sulking and settling exhibits a multiple personality that is part DJ Khaled, part Ben Wallace, and part 13 year old PantsFreeZone when he asked for a baseball themed birthday party and was given a Cowboys and Indians one instead. (You were right, mom. The cap guns made me the most popular kid in school for a week.)

hassan2
Just because I rock doesn’t mean I’m made of stone.

The guy who pierced the world’s heart saying “I’m just trying to get my NBA2K rating up.” after blocking 12 shots against the Bulls could be none other than good, old Charlie. Bringing youthful exuberance and mirth with a tiny amount of smug and a massive amount of ego into everything he touches, this season Whiteside is ranked top 10 in rebounds, field goal percentage and double doubles. Oh, and he’s pretty good at blocking the basketball.

Blocks. Hmmm. How to explain how dominant in this category Hassan Whiteside has been….

 

RK PLAYER TEAM GP MPG BLK PF BLKPG BLKP48M BLK/PF
1 Hassan Whiteside, C MIA 26 28.2 104 61 4.00 6.81 1.70
2 DeAndre Jordan, C LAC 28 32.6 69 89 2.46 3.63 0.78

There we go. Do I need to point out how ridiculously lopsided those numbers are between #1 and #2 in the league? Allow me to sum it up like this: Hassan Whiteside is doing to blocks what Steph Curry is doing to 3 point shooting.

Whiteside’s emotional and mental state are where you’ll find his inner Irene. You’ll see it when teams go to Hack-A-Hassan and he misses a few free throws in a row. It rears up when he finds himself sitting on the bench in the 4th quarter. Social media is his muse and will probably one day lead to him being arrested by the Rhode Island State Police.

But boy oh boy, Hank Whiteside is fun. Always ready to rock, bringing thunderous putbacks, monster dunks off of perfectly executed and placed Dwyane Wade alley oops, blocks into fast breaks, blocks into the stands, blocks into orbit. Hassan Whiteside giving a poo** is one of the few legitimate times you have a chance to see an athlete do something extraordinary. It is electric; like I assume doing meth and pop rocks would feel.

“He may have advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage. But he is a very gentle person!” -Jamaal

Perhaps no other member of the Miami Heat personifies advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage better than Goran Dragic. On any given night, you might have witnessed all three versions of Dragic playing in the same game. It has been a very weird and strange first quarter of the season for the Slovenian Slasher.

Goran Dragic’s superego and Dwyane Wade’s id have been doing battle all year leading to drops in every category across the board for the point guard except assists, which has probably been generated due to an early reluctance to shoot while in the middle of a career worst shooting slump. Scoring 5 points less per game, down .7% points in FG% and shooting just 26% from three (which includes an insanely terrible corner three percentage), nice guy Charlie was on display in the early part of the season as I seriously contemplated suggesting we change his well known moniker to “Toothless” of How To Train Your Dragon fame.

The only time Dragic exemplifies Irene is when he plays off while Wade dominates the ball. Amid his shooting woes, he was a reluctant spacer and rarely made the types of cuts that allowed Wade to operate at peak efficiency. Thankfully, the two stars have learned to play and communicate with each other as of late. And the emergence of Hank the Dragon has been an enjoyable viewing experience.

dragic-tooth

The tooth. In a season-in-a-nutshell moment for the Heat PG, Goran Dragic took an Al Horford elbow to the face, was whistled for a foul and ended up on his ass staring up at the roof of Phillips Arena missing a chunk of his incisor. A handful of minutes later, the gritty guard was back on the court leading the team to a tough victory.

The Dragon is coming. Like winter or in-laws or the next season of the Miami Dolphins, it is inevitable. Since losing that tooth, Goran has been more aggressive attacking the rim, more confident in his jumpshot and even got ejected from a game for violently asking ‘What?’. From Toothless to savage beast sans a fang, the draconic blood of The Dragon pumps hot, fierce and chaotic. Looking on, Hank Evans weeps.

Clearly, the 2015 Miami Heat are the product of a deranged mind. The bastard child of Sheogorath and Lyssa. The entirety of the Trump presidential candidacy. With three quarters of the season remaining, I look forward to seeing what this brand of insanity continues to produce. Will it be on par with my favorite bit of madness the internet ever created?

 

*All rankings are based off nba.com and were pulled from: HERE

**Censored for TNT

The Arrival

‘Hello World!’

The 2015-16 Miami Heat said ‘Hello World!’ on Wednesday night (3 weeks ago) by beating their first opponent, the Charlotte Hornets, if not easily then readily. An opening game that was and an opening line that is, almost perfect. Even 9 games in, this still holds true. Allow me to explain.

Most current computer science courses use the above line as the introduction to computer coding syntax and logic. The first assignment in most textbooks is to write a self contained program that displays the desired results, “Hello World!”. A simple task, however, my first attempt to produce the phrase yielded something resembling a 10,000 year old dead language. A second attempt burned down and then sank into the swamp. But on the third attempt I managed to get the monitor to display those two beautiful words: ‘Jello World?’. Almost perfect.

I’ve always loved computers. Technology. Social Media is my muse. If you know of me, I hide behind the virtual anonymity of twitter as @PantsFreeZone like the fraudulent failure but fabulously mustached, Wizard of Oz. Like Claw from Inspector Gadget. Or Evan Goldberg. In fact, many people simply picture me as Snoopy because of my twitter avatar and I think that would make Charles Schulz very uncomfortable.

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“I wanted to have the adoration of John Lennon but have the anonymity of Ringo Starr. I didn’t want to be a frontman. I just wanted to be back there and still be a rock and roll star at the same time.” – Kurt Cobain

So why am I here? What do I actually wish to disclose to you, one of the readers who probably wondered onto this page looking for a nudist colony trip adviser? I’m glad you asked. I love sports. That is something you are allowed to know about me. I love the sound of a net snapping, that breath of a second before a crowd explodes, last second shots, defensive heroics, greatness and goatness, in a word, the NBA and if we drill it down even further, I specifically love the Miami Heat. I also love reading and writing. So I thought I would combine the two and tell you why I am in love with this particular team and this season. But not all today. (Maybe we can make this a regular thing. Or perhaps a one time moment, which we all look back on in 10 years, with a wistful sigh and say ‘Remember when that Pants guy built his billion-dollar empire off of that one stupid blog post?’)

nba miami heat

The Miami Heat are a team that I’ve grown up with and wearing. A team that has watched me pour cereal on my head while singing Happy Birthday to myself in a high chair (I was 23). A team that gifted a wide-eyed, lanky youth a Foam Finger signed by the illustrious Bimbo Coles. The team that I pretended to be a part of for 8 years in my parents’ driveway practicing a Glenn Rice jumper or a Tim Hardaway crossover or a Harold Minor dunk just kidding, we only practiced the fundamentals in my driveway, none of that flashy, fancy gibberish. Bounce passes and taking charges 24/7.

As a child, I only wanted two things really; the board game Fireball Island and every Marvel Heroes trading card in existence. A kid I went to school with was gifted Fireball Island for his birthday and me as a best friend the day after. We played that game for hours and I returned day after day to his home for weeks. I ate at his house, slept there when it was allowed and essentially moved in. Everything was almost perfect. Then one day, Pony Boy’s mother used the grill to burn Fireball Island to cinders in a moment of irony and terror to finally rid her household of me.

milton-bradley-fireball-island-gameplay
Fireball Island. EST 1992

When I got older the sport of basketball became a form of mental release and the basketball court a bastion from the pressures of grades, puberty and girls. This was the era when cellphones were still the size of bricks and not everyone had one, thus I could bike to the local court and hoist shots for hours in solitude. Running plays and possible situations. Counting down “3…2…1” and trying to hit a miracle buzzer beater or the True/False game which touched on the major topics of the time like: “If I make this shot, Amy in Chemistry will go out with me.” and then airballing said shot to truly represent the reality that was my teenage social life. I didn’t have a ton of friends. My parents were splitting up. Life was uneven, but the Heat were an oasis I could cling to amid the turbulence. During this time, basketball was half therapist, half Magic 8-ball and half best friend. And the NBA’s Miami Heat, they were my new Fireball Island.

MiamiHeat
That logo is fire. Literally.

The Miami Heat. Born in the ashes of 1988. A Phoenix burgeoning despite the crazy humidity. A fanbase’s refuge in the tumultuous whirlwind that is South Florida sports. Almost always equal to the task of expectation. Revered, respected and envied for the excellence manifest in the team’s history, present and future. I couldn’t tell you my sister’s children’s names, but I can list moments and memories from Heat games of recent glory and the distant past. Ray Allen Game 6. Dwyane Wade tipping away the attempted lob at the end of Game 3 in 2006 which broke the Heat through and led to their first ever championship. Bosh screaming after hitting a game winner versus Portland. J-Will’s panache, Toine’s shimmy, Payton’s last jumper. Jeff Van Gundy superglued to Zo’s leg. Mike Miller, Shane Battier, PJ Brown, James Posey and each of their moments. The Warden. Pat Riley and his rings. May 4th, 1997. 2006. Mario Chalmers dribbling the ball off of his foot out of bounds. And the best part is that this memory tapestry is available to all of us. Every moment, every perfect, beautiful second, every heartbreaking “Of course” instant is etched in the faces and smiles of the members of Section 400, located at the very top of the Miami Heat’s arena. Feel free to visit. Bring roasted almonds.

This team is different. This season is different. You can almost see the dark gloom of last season evaporate like a shadow, rebounding like a perfect Josh McRoberts’ bounce pass off of the polished wood floor and mesmerizing us all, as if he had swept a gentle hand through his luscious locks and glanced our way. Ahem. This team announced it’s “Hello World!” with old school thump in Udonis Haslem and classic Dwyane Wade, looking lithe and healthier than he has in the past 5 years.

During the opening game, I was transported once again to my sanctuary for the duration. A smile affixed to my face. My fingers dancing over the keyboard in animated joy trading verbal high fives via twitter and text. Eyes watching for that next “…” moment. Our Heat have arrived. My Fireball Island has arisen. Come, my friends, the season beckons, my introduction is complete and it is time to write that next line of code:

int main()

{ cout << “Hello World!\n”;

cout << “Get off my lawn!\n”;

return 0; }

Almost perfect.

Let’s enjoy the season together, shall we?

400 section.jpg
Every moment, every perfect, beautiful second, every heartbreaking “Of course” instant is etched in the faces and smiles of the members of Section 400, located at the very top of the Miami Heat’s home arena.