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Posts Tagged ‘Udonis Haslem’

Essay: Udonis Haslem’s Unfamiliar Contribution

April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

It was March’s first Friday night, and a somewhat unimportant contest between the Miami Heat and Utah Jazz had just ended. The game’s first 47:55 have since been thrown into a jumbled pile of endless shots, dribbles, screens, and gasping breaths that make up the NBA’s past, but that final five seconds has gone into a rarified vault; to a lot of people it’s a sequence that holds special meaning, capable of telling us more about the narrative in a larger sense than an entire game can.

Miami was on the road, but it didn’t matter. They were playing for their 10th straight win, crashing through all comers like a raw, young, unforgiving Mike Tyson. Still, they’re only human. With a trip further west towards Los Angeles to face the Lakers two days later, other goals were creeping into the back of their minds. And so, with 4.5 seconds remaining, the favored Heat trailed by a single point. Out of a time-out, the ball was inbounded to LeBron James, the world’s best player, and the game’s fate was placed in his wanting hands. His momentum already taking him towards the rim, James catches Shane Battier’s pass right outside the three-point line, and upon meeting Paul Millsap and Josh Howard’s soft zone pick and roll defense, chooses to dump the ball off to a popping, wide open Udonis Haslem—a man who is no stranger to bright lights and big moments. Haslem receives a perfect bounce pass with plenty of time to set his feet, square his shoulders, and launch what was once known as one of the surest shots in basketball. It’s off line. Miami loses. LeBron is the scapegoat.  Read more…

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Shook Ankles: Dwyane Wade Crosses Up Kirk Hinrich, And All We Talk About Is LeBron

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

 

Last week, a latest chapter in basketball’s least colorful narrative (that is LeBron James’ steamy relationship with the fourth quarter) was written. It was written because Udonis Haslem missed a wide open jump shot. Because Udonis Haslem missed a jump shot, millions of theories and mystical explanations were concocted, then explained all across the internet. Because millions of theories and mystical explanations were concocted, then explained all across the internet, LeBron James will react by tweaking his relationship with the fourth quarter. When LeBron James tweaks his relationship with the fourth quarter, the next chapter will be written. And on and on the cycle goes.

Questions are being asked each and every day but there’s no real furthering of worthwhile development; no answers will be made available until June. What LeBron does nine times out of 10 on a basketball court can either be described as correct, smart, or amazing. Sometimes all three words apply. It’s fine to judge him for his disappearing act in last year’s NBA Finals, but to critique each and every end-game decision with a magnifying glass reserved for the postseason is annoying and pointless.

It’s strange to say, but the move seen above, in it’s late game context, poured a thimble’s worth of gasoline on the flames. Every time Dwyane Wade sees success, the national reaction instantly becomes “Where was LeBron while Wade saved the day?” If James produces his normal brilliance for 47 minutes and then misses a shot to tie or win the game with less than a minute remaining, the game’s story revolves around that minor detail as opposed to the bigger picture. We all know James will never shake the criticism until he wins a championship, but—with so many other/better story lines playing themselves out during the league’s current era of intrigue and athletically led grandeur—in many ways, both the league and the people who enjoy covering it, will feel immense relief once he does.

 

 

Commentary: Miami’s Jump Shooting Savior

April 4, 2011 1 comment

Forget about statistics for just a moment and go with your gut to answer the following question: Which player, when the ball leaves his fingertips—mid-range jumper, maybe 10 feet to the three-point line—do you envision the shot slipping through the net every single time. No questions asked, and no need even watching the ball cut through the gym’s humidity, this jump shot is finding the rim’s square center. For this hypothetical, throw pressure situations out the window; it isn’t to win a game or put a team up one with 30 seconds left. This shot comes with 5:38 left in the second quarter down eight or with 8:21 left in the fourth up 14. This is the overlooked; the forgetful.

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