Despite playing in the London Olympics and having just nine days off between last year’s grind and this year’s grind, LeBron eschewed that notion and went into another gear. His team went into another gear. Did you know Miami has lost one game all season when they were playing for the second night in a row? That back-to-back stat this late in the year is beyond phenomenal.
Yes, they play in an Eastern Conference decimated this season by injuries to stars — from Derrick Rose, Andrew Bynum and Rajon Rondo to Amar’e Stoudemire, Kyrie Irving and early on John Wall. But that was all the more reason Miami had to shine, to carry the banner for what was becoming an inferior product.
The Heat defied convention, winning without a real center and worrying about prevailing in the turnover battle instead of the rebounding battle, which is suddenly a blueprint for many teams.
In less than three years, they’ve gone from Team Collusion And Those Arrogant Cats Who Took Their Talents To South Beach to the new standard-bearers for NBA excellence. If LeBron is not beloved, he is surely not as disliked. From Spoelstra on down, all the way to the guy who now has his old video coordinator job, the whole organization is basking in a championship glow.
After how well and how hard the Heat played this regular season, to take issue with its best players resting before the playoffs is so shortsighted. The primary job of any organization is to win a championship, not to merely uphold the league’s unwritten values of competing your very best on every night — nights that now include more unwatchable preseason games.
It just so happens Miami has achieved both feats in a calendar year.
If you care about the league, you will applaud the Heat’s decision to rest their Big Three and any of their other Very Good Nine. After bailing out the Lakers and most of the other 29 teams this regular season by comporting themselves as champions just as much in February and March as in June, LeBron and his team deserve the time off before they embark on their next championship run.
For more by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.