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NBA COAST TO COAST

Miami Heat seems to be cooling

Now a mere contender in the NBA, Miami just blew leads of 11, 15 and 24 in losses to new rival Chicago, new hype New York and old rival Orlando, respectively.

March 05, 2011|By Mark Heisler
  • Heat forward LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade in the final seconds of a 99-96 loss to Orlando last week.
Heat forward LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade in the final seconds of a… (Joe Cavaretta / South Florida…)

Didn't you usedto be the Heat?

Remember the Miami Heat?

NBA's most notorious team ... before playing a game ... supposedly capable of winning 72 games with LeBron James averaging a triple-double?

No, really. You can look it up on ESPN's "Heat Index."

Now a mere contender, Miami just blew leads of 11, 15 and 24 in losses to new rival Chicago, new hype New York and old rival Orlando, respectively.

Then they went to San Antonio, which skipped the rally and beat them by 30.

Guess what's next.

"We understand that the only people that matter to us are the people in the locker room," said once-more endangered Coach Erik Spoelstra.

"We've got to stay connected, which we are..."

For his sake, they had better be.

Call thegeek squad!

Analysts, they're so... analytical.

Happily for the Heat, MIT's annual conference convened in time to take up the team's problems.

As ESPN's Tom Haberstroh noted, ESPN's John Hollinger argued Miami's 2-12 record against top teams may be misleading with "arbitrary endpoints ... [so] the factoid's parameters are arbitrary."

Exactly what I thought!

Actually, Norman Mailer made up the word "factoid," for something the press makes up and forever passes off as fact.

Then there was a fascinating discussion on which Heat player should be taking the last shot.

In other words, the Miami brass better not be holding its breath, waiting for the conference report.

Maybe I mislaidmy invitation

It's not as if I haven't been to MIT, if only sightseeing.

Nevertheless, pay attention:

— Little as it comes up, Miami is a defensive team, No. 2 in opposing field-goal percentage.

— The problem isn't how to recapture big leads after losing them, but how not to lose them.

It's called "getting stops."

— The supporting cast, a.k.a. Manny, Moe and Jack.

Starting with their new big three, Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, they made do with veterans taking less to come, like newly arrived Mike Bibby, expected to take over at the point.

The problem is, was and will be a press narrative making them notorious while hyping them to the skies.

In other words, it's been a big factoid from the get-go!

In any case, if they upgrade MM&J next season, wait till MIT 2012!

Etc.

With renewed concern about player movement, Commissioner David Stern remains noncommittal on franchising players — perhaps because it's something owners have to get from the players in addition to the 38% of their money... Whatever, it has to be better than currently discussed plans to tweak the system to give players even more to stay... They wind up rich either way, with the Nikes and CAAs insisting they can make it up in glamour markets.

If what counts is what you do off camera with the people, as opposed to on camera with the rich and powerful, this is the nicest story I know about Jerry West: Joining the celebrities at his statue's unveiling was Golden State publicist Raymond Ridder, a former Laker. When Ridder's father and mother died in a short span after he moved to the Bay Area, West wrote him, expressing his sympathy. "I have the letter on my refrigerator to this day," Ridder said.

— Mark Heisler

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