erik-spoelstra-scratching-head

You might think that the Miami Heat lost Game 4 of their Eastern Conference finals game against the Indiana Pacers because they were outrebounded by 19, because they missed most of their open corner threes, because LeBron James fouled out when that never happens or because the Pacers scored more points. And really, these are all good reasons for why the Heat failed to take a 3-1 lead on their way back to Miami.

However, listening to head coach Erik Spoelstra tell it, there was a bigger reason than any of those things. From the Sun Sentinel:

“Playoffs are about overcoming everything,” said Spoelstra, who added that Bosh and James would receive treatment but no other medical update was available.

“We didn’t necessarily play well. We didn’t get to our identity. We had massive foul trouble all across the board and we have a 3-point lead down the stretch in an opponent’s building and plays to be made to finish off that game.

“We didn’t. They made more plays down the stretch and typically the team that deserves to win does.” [...]

“They played with a greater sense of urgency. They made more plays going down the stretch and for that matter during the course of he game, not only offensive rebounds, but loose balls, effort plays, impact plays, imposing plays.

“Sometimes there’s a karma to the game, so they beat us down the stretch. There’s no excuses, nothing else to it other than that.”

Yes, true, there are like 19 billion reasons that Spoelstra listed that contributed to the Heat loss, but the thing that there is “nothing else to it other than that” is the “karma to the game.” Which means, I guess, that the Heat lost because of karma. And if you consider all those things that Spoelstra mentioned — not playing Heat basketball, tons of fouls, failing to make plays at the end of the game, not hustling for 50-50 balls — as karma, then I guess he is right.

And to be honest, I can kind of see where he’s coming from. Those various reasons the Heat lost could all be considered “bad basketball,” it could be argued, and if you spend an entire game making bad basketball plays, then I guess that is against what the basketball gods want to see and therefore you’re going to have bad karma and lose. I think that is the point, though I never did get around to taking Comparative Religions in college. At the very least, what Spoelstra is getting at is a tried-and-true lesson that we’ve seen thousands of times in the NBA. Some people call it “playing the right way,” Spoelstra calls it karma. If a team doesn’t care to do the little things, he seems to be saying, there’s not going to be a big payoff in the end.

Or maybe I’m wrong and Spoelstra really is blaming things solely on the Heat having bad karma. Though you would think that gifting an opponent with 15 free offensive rebounds is generous enough to win them a few points.

(via SLAM)

Comments (2)

  1. What I define karma as doing something that you should never, ever do in sports or else, paraphrasing Rocko’s Modern Life “Bad luck and misfortune will infest their pathetic soul for all eternity.” Take Donald Sterling for example: his Clippers have been horrid because he helped Dr. Jerry Buss buy the Lakers with a $1 million loan in 1979. That’s called helping the enemy and that’s a BIG no-no in sports because you’re never ever supposed to help anybody, just like when the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. When the Yankees got Ruth, they turned into the Evil Empire while the Red Sox turned into losers and suffered for a near century. They broke the Curse Of The Bambino in 2004 by 1) facing the Yankees (face their enemy), 2) accepting responsibility for helping the enemy (face yourself), and 3) accepting the curse and overcome it by Herculean means, such as a 0-3 comeback in the playoffs (facing their worst fear).

    Why the Heat lost to the Pacers was not because of karma. They were overconfident, and they were overlooking their opponent because they want the Spurs in the Finals. Every time San Antonio is in the Finals, they automatically win. Spurs are 4-0 in Finals appearances. LeBron James cannot wait to face the same team who swept him as a Cavalier in 2007. His quest to the Finals has become more personal, but he must be patient and not let his vengeance consume his talent, or else we’re gonna see what’s going to be reported as the worst Finals in NBA history. And I don’t get that at all – what’s the big deal with a Spurs-Pacers Finals? Is it the ABA, the effects of the CBA, no stars, small markets, what is it?

  2. I think Spoelstra was saying there was “nothing else to it other than [no excuses],” meaning they have to take blame for their deliberate bastardization of the game. And bastardization here is not meant to be inherently negative. I mean it as in they’re intentional lack of intent to field a traditional lineup with the traditional goal (among others) to out-rebound the competition. Of course, as a card-carrying player of NBA 2K13, I can totally relate to the sediments that the Heat’s style is fun to play and watch on a casual level. And they are supremely talented as well; But fundamentals are fundamentals. Part of the success of the Heat post-Birdman! Birdman! signing has been that he brings a bit of that grit and authentic badass-itude to the team they lack as a whole. If they don’t show more resolve to do the blue collar things (the things Andy Varejao, Ivan Johnson, or Reggie Evans would bring to this team–and West, Hibbert and Hansborough bring to Indy) it’s gonna be really tough to beat the Pacers, let alone the Spurs, too. It just seems like they’re neglect of the obvious is making the road tougher and it’s starting at the top with Coach Spoelstra.

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