If you’re anything like me, you’ve been watching these NBA Playoffs hoping to witness the Miami Heat come up short in their quest to win it all.
It’s part LeBron-scorn for the “Decision” not to come to New York, part disgust/jealousy toward the way Miami’s Big-2.5 – led by a greasy Pat Riley – circumvented all notions of fairness and stacked the proverbial deck in their favor, and part annoyance at how the Heat comport themselves on the court.
Yet despite the vitriol – and coincidental increase in Dallas Mavericks fans – one thing is abundantly clear.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, two of the best players to ever lace ’em up, have done something many thought impossible – certainly during their first season playing together. They’ve actually succeeded in elevating their individual games by working in tandem.
And so it occurred to me while watching Game 4 of the Finals – where LeBron ironically managed “just” an 8-point, 9-rebound, 7-assist effort – that it would really behoove Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to spend less time endorsing products and taking helicopter rides to the Hamptons this summer, and more time working on their two-man game.
Sure, I’m not really in any position to question how Stat ‘n Melo spend their off-seasons (aren’t I though?), and truthfully, they’re only being paid $20M per annum to play basketball for six months, but let’s get real here.
I want to see these preordained saviors of Mecca-hoops really roughing it.
For starters, I want to see them spending everyday in the gym, preferably with that crew of badass boxers from Rocky III, when Apollo made sure that Balboa wouldn’t be losing any rematch with Clubber Lang.
I want to see an incremental improvement in Jones Beach 100-yard-dash times.
I want to see Stoudemire and Anthony push one another to be better, culminating in an awkward embrace amidst a care-free splash-session in the Atlantic.
Wait…no. I do not want to see that.
Anyway, the point is that absent a miracle breakthrough in the the league’s CBA negotiations, we’re all looking at the very real possibility that the 2011-11 season will be shortened or eliminated by a lockout.
We’ve already heard the excuses why New York’s two superstars weren’t really on the same page after the big trade; not enough time together, no training camp, bad coaching, etc.
You see where I’m going with this, right? It was all the big, bad lockout’s fault. Another season, another set of excuses, another “reason” why things didn’t work out.
But all of that is just noise.
Amar’e and ‘Melo are supposedly elite players, supposedly capable of greatness, but it’s going to take a lot more than best intentions and one training camp to create the kind of synergy that LeBron and Wade now display on a nightly basis.
For starters, the latter duo from South Beach is better, more versatile, and more accomplished than their New York counterpart is. And they have the added advantage of Chris Bosh on their squad to pick up the slack when he isn’t crying, complaining, or generally looking lost out there.
The margin of error for the Knick tandem is infinitely smaller, and as such, they need to do everything in their power to foster their own success.
That means putting in the extra time now, learning how to play off one another now, and adjusting/eliminating their career-long tendencies for the benefit of the franchise.
So let’s hope Summer School starts soon, and if anyone happens to have ‘Melo’s address in the Hamptons, shoot me a tweet at @LoHudKnicks. I will deliver the summer reading list by hand.