The Heat knew they had to get better last offseason to have any chance at defending their title. There's an idea in sports that if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. It's 100 percent true. Miami's attempts to improve itself failed miserably. Michael Beasley has been a disaster. Greg Oden has been Greg Oden. Rashard Lewis has been a decent substitute for Mike Miller.
Status quo was never going to be good enough for Miami. This isn't status quo. Wade's knees have aged at a remarkable pace. Bosh has committed to being a spot-up shooter.
Talk of Melo is a white flag.
I realize the Heat did not plant the Melo story. I realize the Miami locker room isn't engulfed in Melo talk. But the Melo story dropping this week was the final blow to a team with already questionable confidence. It was an unintended admission that the Spurs are better and that the Big Three are in need of reinforcements.
The Spurs are the superior team. But they're not 20 points better. Not in back-to-back games in Miami. This should be a seven-game series with games filled with lots of lead changes. The Spurs are thrashing the Heat wire to wire. Why?
Because the Heat have conceded mentally that they're not good enough. This is on Pat Riley. He coined the phrase the Disease of More when he wrote about the Showtime Lakers and how they fell apart because the players wanted more and more. The Disease of Me-lo is about Pat Riley wanting more and more.
Riley gets credit for luring James and Bosh to Miami for less than maximum money. He's hailed as the smartest executive in the NBA. Maybe Phil Jackson outsmarted Riley. Maybe Phil injected Miami with the Disease of Me-lo when he suggested Melo might have to take a pay cut to stay in New York. That's when the Lakers and the Heat started wondering how they could land James and Anthony on the same roster.
Meanwhile, the Spurs are not looking for solutions outside their locker room. Coach Gregg Popovich believes in his system. A year ago, when Manu Ginobili turned in a Finals performance more pathetic than the one Wade is having now, Popovich didn't hatch plans to land a superstar. Popovich believed his system would fix Ginobili.
LeBron James is the system in Miami, no different from his time in Cleveland. He has had improved support in South Beach, but he is the system. Like Peyton Manning, James is going to end his career with fewer championships than his skill, intellect and commitment deserve because he has carried far too great of an individual burden.
Melo is a disease, not a cure. An offensive system that maximizes and exploits LeBron's infinite gifts is what would bring him as many championships as Jordan, Magic, Kobe and Duncan. The Disease of Me-lo would bring only more scorn.