Tuck: Sports Offer No Guarantees

The Miami Heat came together three years ago.  LeBron James and Chris Bosh agreed to sign with Miami and Dwyane Wade stayed put. The future was very bright, even for sunny South Beach.  How many titles could/would they win?  Not 1? Not 2?…you know how the rest went.

The Heat are the brink of being eliminated in the NBA Finals again.  If they fail to win 2 more games, and the back-2-back NBA titles that come with it, many will deem the experiment a failure.

But is that fair?  Or even accurate?

Was the Boston Celtics move to trade for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to form their own Big 3 a failure?  They played 5 years together.  They produced 66, 62, 50, 56, and 39 (lockout shortened year) wins.  They won a title, lost in the second round with KG hurt to Orlando, lost in a 7-game NBA Finals, lost in the second round to Miami, and lost in Game 7 of the conference finals to the eventual champion Heat.

So did they come up short?  Should they not have made the trades?

They had a huge run of success, ran into some bad luck, and played some better teams.  The Big 3 era in Boston will be remembered as a positive time, even with only one ring.

I can’t help but feel the same about this Miami group.  Even with a loss, they won 58, 46 (lockout shortened), and 66 games.  They went to 3 straight NBA Finals, and won a title.

You look through NBA history and you see great teams that didn’t win all the time. In the 80’s,  Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Detroit did plenty of losing, and in big moments, to go along with the winning of titles.  The Spurs and Lakers of the last decade won titles, but also lost plenty of times in the playoffs.

All of those teams are considered among the best to ever play.  The thing is, we only crown one champion every year.

The Miami story is ongoing.  If they don’t win a title this year, it doesn’t mean they can’t next year.  It doesn’t mean what Pat Riley put together failed.  It doesn’t mean they won’t be disappointed.  They should be.  Great teams always expect to win the championship.  It just means there are other great teams they played against.

In Miami’s case, they played against two sure-fire future Hall of Fame players, and two that will be debated one day in the loss to Dallas.  They are playing against 3 future HOF’ers in San Antonio, and who knows maybe more at the rate Kawai Leonard and Danny Green are going.  I am kidding, sort of, about Green.

Sometimes you have to just tip your cap to the competition.  Magic didn’t win more than 5 titles because Bird had to win 3, and Dr. J and Isaiah had to win theirs.  Kobe is stuck on 5 because Duncan was great enough to win 4.

Jordan didn’t win every title every year he played, and believe it or not, neither did Bill Russell.

It will be a disappointment for LeBron James and Miami if they don’t win a title this year.  It will not make the Summer of 2010 a failure however because there are no guarantees in sports, just plenty of competition.