Locker Room Crying Debacle Highlights Shortcomings of Heat’s All-Star Triumvirate
The Miami Heat lost their fifth straight game, amplifying the drama surrounding comments made by their coach Eric Spoelstra following their loss on Sunday to the Chicago Bulls. Spoelstra said, “There are a couple guys crying in the locker room right now”: cue the flood of tweets, stupid punny headlines (e.g. “Crying Shame” and “The Crying Game”), and the incessant and vapid analysis by ESPN personalities and the like. The dumb headlines seemed to be ESPN and the other major sports outlets communicating, “We really want to make fun of these grown men, these professional athletes for crying after another failure, each of which is hilarious because of how dominating everyone thought they would be, but due to journalistic standards we can only do so passive aggressively by making puns in the lead which highlight the fact that GROWN PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES WERE CRYING.” The interesting side to this story is the question of why it is a story at all, and why the media reaction has been so voracious.
Let us set aside for a moment the question of whether anyone actually cried or if this was some sort of motivational ploy by Spoelstra. Assuming tears were shed, they were not shed because the Heat lost a game, or five games, or lost in impressively collapsible fashion. Obviously the weight of expectations has burdened this Heat team in a way I imagine TheBron, Wade, and Bosh could not fully anticipate. From a pure basketball perspective, one would be hard pressed to say that the Heat are significantly underperforming or collapsing, and at the beginning of the season a sober and objective view of this squad would not have placed them in the stratospheric level some (probably including the Heat themselves) anticipated. The fact remains that they have no point guard and no center, and basketball is still a five man game. Though it may seem that the Heat are mired in a psychological crisis, in reality it is more of a basketball crisis.
When Lebron, Wade, and Bosh unveiled themselves this summer to something that resembled a championship ceremony in every possible way save a Rosie O’Donnell suspension wire fly-over, they instantly communicated the expectation that success was guaranteed, and the basketball media largely agreed. So the pressure they are feeling is largely their own fault. After the Heat loss to Chicago, Wade said, “The world is better now that the Heat are losing,” suggesting that the Heat were somehow being unfairly victimized by the media. But all along it was the Heat themselves who placed themselves in the center of the NBA universe and subjected themselves to the righteous scorn of those who chafed at their entitled attitudes and relished every misstep. It ain’t always about you: the Bulls played a great game, your team has only three good players, and no one cares about regular season goings-on anyway. In the words of Phil Jackson: “This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed.” Jackson’s quote was in reference to the crying incident, but really it could easily be applied to the mentality the Heat have demonstrated since they were assembled this summer. You earn your expectations by performing, not just by showing up to the game.