MIAMI — After losing Game 2 of their second round series to the Indiana Pacers, a game in which he threw a two-year-old-like tantrum in flagrantly fouling Darren Collison after he disagreed with a no-call by the officials two plays before, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade had this to say about the Pacers’ excitement after the game:
“I heard they wanted to be like the Dallas Mavericks, in a sense. I saw their little celebration at the end of (Game 2). I don’t know if they didn’t expect to win, but every night we go out on the court, we expect to win. They say their identity, they say they want to be like Dallas. So they celebrated like Dallas, I guess.”
Wade’s comments stemmed from Indiana coach Frank Vogel using last year’s NBA champion Mavericks as motivation with his own team this year.
They also stemmed from the ever-rising pressure Wade and the Heat organization placed on themselves when they created a rock star-type celebration for the signings of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010, when the most celebrated of them used words like “easy” in saying that the “Big Three” would win not five, not six, but 367 NBA championships.
That’s what happens when you feel pressure and fear. You say stupid things. And Wade most certainly did in his analysis of the Indiana-Dallas comparison.
Removing from the argument the simple fact that Indiana players were not uncorking champagne bottles Tuesday night, according to Wade Indiana wants to be like an NBA champion. Apparently they also want to be like Dallas in beating Miami.
The nerve, right, Dwyane?
Wade’s words might have been arrogant, but they wouldn’t have been completely nonsensical had it been his team who beat the Mavericks last year and he was simply poking fun at Indiana for getting excited about one victory.
But Dallas won four games, Dwyane. And the series.
And you say you expect to win every night? Well so did the Mavericks. And I know this is shocking to you, but the Pacers do as well.
So trying to indicate that the Pacers are somehow silly for wanting to be like Dallas is just, well, silly.
I became a Dwyane Wade fan when I watched him play in the Final Four in his days at Marquette. I loved his assassin-type approach to the game of basketball when he came through in clutch situations time and time again in the 2006 NBA Finals against Dallas.
Now he just seems like one of the many disgruntled pro superstars blinded by their sense of entitlement.
Most fans are regular people with bigger problems than multi-millionaires who disagree with an official’s call. They have bigger fish to fry than an organization who is trying to defeat a Loch Ness Monster it created. That’s why it seems most fans out there love to see the Heat lose, but Wade and his teammates don’t seem to understand that. And if they do, they definitely don’t know how to go about deflecting it. Instead of diffusing potential stories they seem to ignite them at every opportunity.
I believe in Wade, though, as I believe in all people. If I could sit down and talk to him like I did with students for ten years as a high school English teacher and basketball coach, I would remind him of the following things:
- You have no right to pass judgment on a team happy about a victory when you willingly took part in a three-man press conference decked with smoke, party music, fireworks, and a hydraulic stage lift.
- You have forgotten that it was your teammates who, overcome by happiness, hugged and knelt down on the court after winning a second round series over Boston last year. I for one thought it was a welcomed show of humanness and joy so absent in professional basketball today, but still.
- You and your teammates were excited about building a 15-point lead late in Game 2 of last year’s Finals against Dallas, only to see the game and the series slip away. Again, I didn’t see a problem with you being happy and having fun during the game. And comebacks happen to the best of teams, but still.
- You think you have a chip on your shoulder with all the media scrutiny over the past two years? Um, consider Indiana’s. They are the three-seed right behind you and have been given no shot by the national media to beat you.
- And truth be told, Indiana didn’t celebrate that wildly, and you know it.
Dwyane Wade knows these things, and he’s probably kicking himself right now for poking fun at a team who has a legitimate shot to win the series. A team who gets excited about winning basketball games and everything else about the NBA limelight, just like Wade and his teammates have done in the past.
But what this reaction underscores is a fear that Wade and his teammates, especially James, have.
The truth is that if they win an NBA title this year, they will probably respond more out of relief than pure and utter joy. Because of the way Miami has built this star-studded franchise, basketball fans around the country are expecting them to win, and are also ready to feel quiet satisfaction if they don’t. That fact has put a big chip on Wade’s shoulder ever since that fateful day James and Bosh arrived.
And the comments of Wade, who echoed his coach, simply illustrate the fear in that Heat locker room.
“Now, it’s a series.”
Actually, Dwyane, it has been a series, since last Sunday, to be exact. And you wonder why the Pacers want to beat you so badly?
You wonder why everyone outside of South Beach and the national media are rooting so hard for them to do it?
I know this is not 100% arrogance, that really you are human and inside you are wondering if you will ever win a championship with LeBron and Chris. So you say things like that out of fear just as much as anything because let’s face it, fear is at the root of any negative emotion, including denial.
But not all people are willing to look that far into it. To them your comments are just superstar arrogance and disrespect for a worthy opponent, and it gives them even more reason to hate you and your team.
So stop worrying about image, Dwyane. Stop worrying about what other people think. Because all it does is put you on edge emotionally, makes you foolishly exaggerate another team’s simple moment of happiness after victory.
You don’t need the chip on your shoulder. It’s only adding to the pressure and adding to the likelihood that you won’t win another championship.
And even if you do, all you’ll be doing afterwards is spelling relief and calling out everyone who had the nerve to root for another team.
That’s no way to celebrate a title. That’s no way to enjoy the game that has always brought so much fun to your life.
Jeff LeJeune writes on a broad spectrum of topics, from spirituality to sports to synchronicity and synergy, while finally learning to smile a little more at it all. Visit JeffLeJeune.com and follow on Twitter @JeffLeJeune.