8:48 AM CDT, June 12, 2012
Whatever hurts the most.
A sweep by Oklahoma City? Great.
A five-game series but the Thunder still clinch it on Miami’s floor? Great.
Oklahoma City loses the first three games and then becomes the first team to wipe out that deficit to win an NBA title? Out. Stand. Ing.
Whatever hurts the most. That’s my mantra. That’s what I’m rooting for in the NBA Finals: A Heat loss that inflicts the most pain and heartbreak.
The Heat of the “Big Three’’ era already have lost once. That hurts, of course. But it does not hurt enough. One NBA Finals loss simply is not enough pain. Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven ...
If I sound childish, then nyah-nyah-nyah. I’ll always believe that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh hatched their plan two years before their free agency. I’ll always believe their “Pay Me Tours’’ were a sham. They wanted to avoid rubbing the NBA’s nose in an obvious conspiracy. The Bulls got jerked around. That’s what it comes down to. I don’t care about Cleveland or New York getting jerked around. Just the Bulls. The Cavs and Knicks deserved to be jerked around because, well, they’re the Cavs and Knicks. James used the Bulls, ditched the Bulls, then beat the Bulls. Hating James was the game the whole family could play. Heat, hurt, hate. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The might-have-beens regarding James and the Bulls can be excruciating. They could’ve done big things. They certainly would’ve had that second game-breaking scorer that remains as empty as the Blackhawks’ second-line center. They certainly wouldn’t have watched Derrick Rose repeatedly and frustratingly get shut down by James. They certainly would’ve been in Dallas last year. They certainly wouldn’t have died when Rose went down this year. They certainly would’ve beaten the blasted 76ers. They certainly wouldn’t have watched C.J. Watson pass the ball to Omer Asik.
I suppose I could play what-if all the way past Kevin Durant. But playing what-if is not why you’re here. Let’s get back to playing hate-you.
Wade? He was never going to join the Bulls. That was more of a fraud than James, who was at least going somewhere. Wade was going to stay with the Heat, and so, it is as a Miami player that he’ll go into the Crybaby Hall of Fame.
Bosh? He might not be the most hated of the Big Three nationally, but he could be that guy in Chicago after the Bulls got stuck with Carlos Boozer.
Face it, though, James is the guy to hate the most because he’s the best player. The greatest individual talent in the game, in fact, and we grew to feel entitled to that here. Michael. LeBron. Nice continuation play, as they say in basketball.
Sure, the hate runs deeper for James because of “The Decision’’ and the Heat’s championship celebration a couple Julys ago. But it’s all because he’s so good. The hate thermometer spikes based on a player’s greatness. I mean, nobody hated Eddy Curry. Nobody outside of Chicago, anyway.
When James stops being great, I’ll stop hating. For now, though, I don’t ever want to lose that loathing feeling --- Righteous Brothers voice: “You’ve lost that loathing feeling, oh that loathing feeling’’ --- and I don’t think I will. Believe me, I’m better with grudges than James with the ball at the end.
And there you go: another wonderful scenario in which the Heat fail. That would be a good one, too. Maybe the best. Whatever hurts the most.
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