Monday, July 17, 2017

The Miami "Heat" Way

This is an important article (for the topic). basketball cognescenti talk about the Miami "culture" they mean the training regimen, getting the players' bodies more fit and more healthy than they have ever been in their careers. Dion Waiters, for one, was amazed, couldn't believe what the "Heat" staff did with his body. He took before and after pictures.

That is one thing. This is another. Erik Spoelstra is a basketball genius and visionary. He has created the Miami "Heat" Way. Spoelstra had arguments, plural, arguments with Pat Riley over "positionless" basketball. Spoelstra won. Or rather he convinced Riley, who sounds like a true believer now. Understand: Riley is preternaturally old school. Like a lot of old school guys who fall for the blonde with big tits, Riley, when he was coaching, was obsessed with the tall basketball center. He always had one on his arm, er roster: Kareem, Patrick; he traded for Alonzo Mourning as soon as he got to Miami; later signed Shaq. In Riley's old school all of the students had assigned seats, 1 through 5, and they were expected to stay in their damn seats, especially the 5. A 5 shooting threes? Riley'd a shot him. There are no assigned seats in Spoelstra's Way.

In Riley's Way, the coach was the dictator. That does not go down well with the best of the modern generation of NBA player. Yes, I mean LeBron James. James is a basketball genius and visionary too. It has to make sense to the best players now, they're not going to do it with 100% committment and belief even if a legend like Riley says it, if it doesn't make sense. For those coaches who are less than legends, see LeBron James waving off plays David Blatt called. It is about empowering the players and making them invested in the Way. Riles didn't do empowering players. But, to his great credit, he has allowed Erik Spoelstra to do this his way. So, with that as context listen to what the players--and Riley--say now. They have found the elixir of basketball life:

Hassan Whiteside is the center; Goran Dragic is the point guard. After that, you're on your own when it comes to delineating roles for the Miami Heat roster that has been cultivated by Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra.

More importantly, the players are on their own.

That, James Johnson said after re-signing, is why he wanted to be back.

That, first-round pick Bam Adebayo said, is what makes this opportunity so fascinating.

That, Kelly Olynyk said after signing, is what made his relocation so intriguing.

"They've turned guys that have been in the box for so long into guys who break out of that box and become something special," Olynyk said after leaving the Boston Celtics in free agency. "And you can see it, from top to bottom of their roster."

Including even in summer league, where Adebayo was cast at center on offense, switched onto the perimeter defensively, even advanced the ball across midcourt with bust-out dribbles.

"We don't care," said Spoelstra, "about conventional boxes."

It is that precise lack of black and white that distinguished the Heat's revival last season from 11-30 at midseason to 41-41 at the finish, a lack of convention Johnson said that carries from the court into the locker room.

"I think the way that Coach Spo allows us to coach each other, coach ourselves 
through the bad and the good, confront each other, enable each other to become better players and not enable each other in a bad way, I think that's how we probably jell so quickly and were able to have a successful second half," he said.
"Wherever coach Spo [Pause: "Coach Spo". That's Pat Riley speaking there. Pat Riley calls him Coach Spo just as one of the players calls him "Coach Spo". That is a gestalt shift in Riley's thinking and a gestalt convergence in team direction. Unpause]wants to take this position-less game . . . wherever it goes, however he feels, the whole concept of position-less has to do with the offense," Riley said. "It does not have to do with the size of the player. It's that every player basically knows all the positions. So wherever you’re at on the court, the motion in the offense, everybody knows what the motions are."

That is what makes the Miami Heat" the most interesting team in the NBA for this season. Often wrong always certain: They will make magic in the Magic City this season. We are all witnesses.

I am Benjamin Harris and this is Public Occurrences.