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Stray Bullets: Thanksgiving Day Edition

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Happy Thanksgiving, Silver Screen and Roll.  

The Zen Master is back to his old tricks. 

Yesterday, PJ's comment's regarding the Miami Heat / Erik Spoelstra "situation" made news and raised some ire. For the life of me, I can't understand what was wrong with any of what he said. I mean, I understand if Stan Van Gundy feels the need to chime in, seeing it was his name and situation that was referenced. The people thinking what Phil said was out of line, though? Get a life. This is professional sports. These people get paid a lot of money to be in the public eye. Phil didn't reference anything personal. No, he only described a possible problem in between the lines. What he really did was apply more pressure to a growing issue in "Soufth Beach."

Right now, the Heat are dealing with the glare of expectations very poorly. There's a crack in the foundation and it's spreading. High expectations, poor results, constant questions and overhype have only made them worse. There's been no reason to believe they can turn this around. We can look at their talent and feel that eventually they should. That doesn't mean they will. We've seen Dwyane Wade step up in the 2006 Finals, but we've also watched LeBron give up in a series, and Bosh give up on a season. It's their mental state that's in question. The more pressure they feel, the worse they play. They're nothing but a team of frontrunners currently way behind. So here comes Big Chief Triangle to pile on.  


"[E]ventually these guys that were recruitied - Bosh and James - by Pat Riley and Micky Arison, the owner, are going to come in and say, 'We feel you [Riley] can do a better job.'"

How hard do you think it is for Spoelstra to try to fix these issues with every move being picked apart? Or LeBron, Wade or Bosh? And now the rest of the world expects Riley to step in and "Van Gundy" Spoelstra? Millions of eyes on Spo and the Nazgul, and he has to worry about the X's and O's, super-sized egos, and a GM who has put together this supposed superteam and the possibility that they would all want to replace him. Good luck. Phil wants to slow down any change and quicken their demise. Let them struggle under the glare. He turned up the heat (pun intended) and what can they do about it?  What will they do about it? Phil has eleven rings for a reason. This was a smart move. Your move now, Erik, LeBron, Dwyane, and Bosh Pat. Prove us wrong.

  • During last night's Heat / Magic game, I damn near threw up listening to the hypocrisy coming from ESPN commentators Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Marl Jackson's mouths. While bashing Phil's choice of words and timing of it, these clowns had the nerve to bring up Phil's Bulls days and mention how Phil never had to deal with such media scrutiny. Wow. Really? ESPN analysts complaining about the microscope, hype and pressure the Heat have? When ESPN gave us The Decision, air clips of the Heat "four, five or six championships" preseason parade every chance they get, pull articles that make LeBron look bad and created the Heat Index? Ironic, huh?
  • LeBron James. He makes players better. He's never had elite teammates. He's so efficient. He's the best in the world. Think about that for a few minutes.
  • Joakim Noah... damn. He made Pau look silly. I don't think I've ever seen Pau look so confused. Eventually Pau figures an opponent out. We've seen him use his skill, patience and quickness to adjust to taller, bigger defenders like Darko and Yao. Or overcome the strong and squat Kendrick Perkins / Chuck Hayes types. Never have I seen a defender stymie Pau to that degree. Noah is just as tall, just as athletic, more active and probably a better rebounder. He blocked Pau's shots, boxed him out, disrupted passes and generally out hustled Pau. It's a good thing he plays in the East. Noah was that good.
  • Both Noah and Taj Gibson were problems on the glass. They went after everything and made two elite rebounders, Lamar and Pau, fight for everything. The Bulls came into the game ranked third in the NBA in team rebounding and it's easy to see why. Noah has this Anderson Varajeo/pest kind of play to him that makes it hard for opponents to take any rebound for granted.
  • Isn't is great to have a good bench again? I wrote in the Bulls preview that the difference would be the bench. Boy was it. The game was put away with killer threes from Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. Three 3's in a row that turned a three-point 4th quarter lead into a 12-point lead in a span of just over a minute.
  • I didn't even mention Shannon Brown. Wow. When Lewis Monroe stated "ANY ONE WNAT SOME OF THIS MONEY, IN IF YOU WANT SOME COME IN GET SOME,"Shannon Brown took it to heart. We've all glossed over his play all season, but I can't help but watch Sasha Vujacic stuck to the bench and picture Shannon seeing the Machine's salary and the fact that Sasha's off the books next season and feeling that Vujacic's paycheck should be his. He's keeping Sasha watching while he fills it up.
  • I really thought this was going to be Sasha's redemption year. It still may be. After all, the season is long, injuries happen, and Phil does have a habit of making guys seem stuck to the bench then giving them a shot. But honestly, I don't care how much a Sasha believer I am. Shannon has been good enough that there's no need to rock the boat. Sorry, Machine.  
  • Back to LeBron. If he's so good, why is this Heat team such a mess? Why is Dwyane Wade struggling? Why is Bosh a non-factor? You see, LeBron is a force, but he's not a cerebral player. He's a frontrunner who isn't sure what to do when situations get thick. He might get his, but I don't think he knows how to operate in an offense that isn't completely centered around him. I have no clue what their identity as a team is. LeBron's great personal efficiency ratings mean nothing to team basketball. Supposedly being efficient and it helping your team's overall success aren't necessarily related. And we have to hear about how this team needs to gel. Psht. Pau's inclusion into the Lakers was effortless. The Boston Big 3's gelling was immediate. But LeBron's the best. Magic in Karl Malone's body. Right?
  • You see Derrick Rose get to the basket at will, because he can?  The Lakers couldn't do a thing about that. Think about that next time you see LeBron jack a stupid pull up jumper.
  • What's up Bron Bron? You ask us if you should be who we want you to be? No. We just want you to not be what you are now. Well, not us at SSR anyway, but you get the point.
  • Kobe, Lamar, Luke, Kwame & Smush > LeBron, Dwyane, Chris, Joel & Carlos.
  • I'm gonna stuff my face now.  Later....

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