Remember our cracked-skull columnist, Alex Arnon? He hit his head a while back, fainted, and woke up a delusional man with tidings of a world where small markets ruled all comers. Over the past month, Arnon has been dealing with "personal matters", a thinly veiled cover-up for Arnon's voyage through the Serengeti to produce his new TV pilot for the local access channel: "What Blue Wildebeast Wants to Be A Millionaire?" (I tried to tell him it wouldn't work, especially with a total production budget of $3.54, but Arnon is a freakishly determined young man who doesn't need my sass.) Regardless. He's been kidnapped by a rampaging horde of zebras and is being ransomed off for drugs and money, even though zebras don't have the opposable thumbs necessary to do drugs or the credit score to spend the money. Until I can patch together a resolution to the situation, I'll be taking the reins to our Small Market Monday feature. Just let me knock myself in the head with this small market butter churner and I'll be right with you.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Gaze upon them, young small marketeers. Once, this team was the league's holy-of-holies. The team that the modern league juts out and features more than any other. The team with a market bigger than its britches and stars upon stars upon stars. But stars can't match grit and heart and guile -- not like you see in teams like the 29-48 Washington Wizards or the 24-52 Cleveland Cavaliers. No, this team of star power and free agent shuffling isn't a lock to win anything.
I refer, of course, to the Miami Heat.
"What!" you say, exclaiming in shock. "But Aaron, didn't they just win a flippity-gibbit of games... in a row?" Yes, readers, I looked it up -- they did indeed. But when I turned on my nationally televised grit-n-grind matchup between the plucky Charlotte Bobcats and the flagging Miami Heat, I couldn't help but feel bad for the boys in the gross-looking black and red jerseys. Sure, they had LeBron and Wade -- once. But they're gone now. And Chris Bosh can't play the entire game! Just look at some of the lineups Coach Spolestra was forced to play now that the team has lost their two stars!
- Norris Cole / James Jones / Shane Battier / Rashard Lewis / Chris Anderson (Outscored CHA by 4)
- Mario Chalmers / James Jones / Mike Miller / Rashard Lewis / Joel Anthony (Outscored CHA by 1)
- Norris Cole / James Jones / Shane Battier / Rashard Lewis / Chris Anderson (Outscored CHA by 5)
Look at those lineups! Isn't that wild? Somehow, Miami's D-Team gutted out a win against the good ol' Bobcats -- it was tough, but the Bobcats took pity on those hilarious lineups and decided to lay off the gas a bit. But we all know who's going to be laughing in the end. Just goes to show you, really... there's no such thing as a shortcut to a championship. You need to play terrible basketball for enough seasons in a row to luck your way into a franchise-changing superstar, potentially playing poorly enough that you alienate one of the NBA's best fanbases and force your team to move to a different location where the team will blossom into a perennial contender and cast the ire of the fanbase scorned, strengthening the resolve of the players that had little to no control over the move in general! That's how you get a ring in the NBA, not with this "free agency" stuff. Because if LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are "free" to "agent" for the Miami Heat, they're also "free" to "not-agent." And this is clearly -- CLEARLY -- what they have chosen to do. Good luck getting past the Eastern Conference Finals without your stars, Miami!
... wait, the Knicks are the 2nd best team in the east? OK, maybe they'll still get past the ECF. STILL THOUGH.