This brings us to the unavoidable fact that the meaningful part of the season is over. Do I believe in miracles? No, and I don’t believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein, or Superman. We’re not making the playoffs, and we’re a bad team worsened further by poor management; this season’s lost. And thus my other defense for consciously avoiding this game is that it would be difficult to prove that either team was even trying to win. If you’re a boxing fan, you wouldn’t watch a bout in which one of the fighters was credibly rumored to be throwing the match; how unwatchable would it be if both fighters were trying to take a fall?
And in Miami’s case, it’s more than just a credible rumor. Half the team didn't dress and the coach was gone. How can I be blamed for not watching the Heat play when their own coach isn’t watching? I’m surprised there hasn’t been more made of this. Remember how much flack the Celtics took last year for tanking the season? At least Doc Rivers was there (or, more precisely, “physically present”) for the games. Nevertheless, Boston’s purposeful losing invoked harsh indictments, ethical debates, and endless navel gazing. Yet in the Heat’s case it’s treated as something of a joke (also, are they making Pat Riley prove that he’s scouting NCAA games? I haven’t seen him in the crowds. If I were the Heat owner, you better believe I’d be making Riles show me some receipts). I’m not sure why there’s this double-standard; maybe it’s something about the cities. Things from Boston have always been regarded more seriously than those from Miami; look at the difference between St. Elsewhere and Miami Vice. Both were serious 80s dramas, yet which has been more parodied through the years?
There’s also a more general double-standard when it comes to tanking in basketball and football. Football teams with no chance throw in the towel just as blatantly as basketball teams, but there’s never any stink over it. If anything, football teams do it more blatantly, because they don’t even have a lottery; their picks are guaranteed. But just as with performance-enhancing drugs and bad behavior on the part of athletes, football is Teflon when it comes to criticism.
I say this all as an unbiased spectator, by the way. When it comes to tanking, I don’t believe in doing it, but it’s not for any moral reason; it’s mostly because I don’t think it actually works. Thus my policy on tanking resembles my policy on acupuncture or buying a copy of The Secret. If teams that tanked were actually guaranteed high draft picks that would significantly improve them immediately, I’d be all for it. In the Bobcats case, I’d have probably been advocating them to throw games starting in about December for the past four years. But we’ve seen time and time again that it doesn’t work, so I’d rather go for the win.
Therefore, I’m happy to see that it looks like we actually did go for the win in Miami–especially since they acquired Shawn Marion. If there’s any joy to be had this season, it’s in the fact that Shawn Marion is now on a lousy team. I wish him nothing but professional failure the rest of his career, and I don’t feel bad about it. This is a man who had it all and still complained his way right out of a great situation, all because he felt unappreciated. Unappreciated? The man was a first-round draft pick, was paid the most on the team, made the All-Star team four times, and made countless ESPN, Dime, and Slam magazine covers. Oh, and he was lovingly given the nickname “The Matrix” by the fans. Who has a nickname but gets no attention? How could he have possibly felt unappreciated? It’s like watching your a dude cheat on his perfect wife and then get dumped, and now Marion is stuck with with the Roseanne Barr of sports teams.