The moral of the story is don’t piss them off!
1995 Phoenix Suns
My best team was the 1994-95 Suns. That season, myself, Wayman Tisdale and Danny Manning joined the team of All-Stars Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle and Charles Barkley. We had a complete team and were heading towards a 60-win season when Manning blew out his knee near the All-Star break.
We were 36-10 and ended the season with 59 wins, third-best in the league. Losing Manning certainly took us from being the top team to in the top five. At that point in the season, we were really jelling. We were on a 15-2 streak when Manning got hurt.
We finished out the season and played Houston in the second round. Hakeem Olajuwon was peaking and was a handful. Between Joe Kleine, Wayman Tisdale and myself we pounded him every way that we could to slow him down. We knew that fouls were not rollover minutes. We might as well use them since they don’t carry over to the next game.
We took a 3-1 lead in the series before losing Games 5 and 7 at home. We lost Game 5 in OT and Game 7 on Mario Elie’s late 3-pointer. Hakeem went on to torch David Robinson in the conference finals and then sweep Shaquille O’Neal and the Magic in the Finals.
So how does the 2013 Miami Heat measure up?
The Heat have an air of being a level above the rest of the field, especially as the injuries pile up for so many of the playoff contenders. They also have the ultimate weapon in LeBron James, who has proven himself and grown into an unstoppable force, not just a great player.
The biggest challenge for the Heat is to see if they can maintain their position of dominance for the rest of the decade. An uncertain future awaits them in this new era of shorter contracts and annual free agency frenzies. You do realize that LeBron has an opt-out next summer, right?
Multiple championships (and two does not qualify) make you a team for the ages. Otherwise they will just be remembered as a team that had a great run. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Historically, great teams sometimes can stick together for several years, sometimes for just a couple. The future – both short-term in this year’s playoffs and long-term over the next few years – will be the ultimate determining factor in how the Heat will be regarded in the context of historical greatness.
Danny Schayes is a retired 18-year-veteran of the NBA, a professional broadcaster and aspiring author now penning weekly NBA columns for SheridanHoops. Follow him on Twitter.