NBA fans in 2013 witnessed the Miami Heat achieve the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. The team from South Beach won 27 consecutive games over a 52-day stretch between February 3 and March 26. The race to catch and surpass the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ 33-game winning streak came to an end on March 27 when the shorthanded but energized Chicago Bulls beat the Heat 101-97 at the United Center.
I don’t care how much a person despises the Heat–that 27-game winning streak was impressive, one for the books (and newspapers, magazines, websites, television news reports, and radio broadcasts).
I was listening to The Michael Kay Show earlier this week, and a fan called in to share his thoughts on LeBron James. He said in a really short amount of time, people went from hating the superstar to loving him. After The Decision in July 2010, everyone but Miami Heat fans felt stabbed by James. That summer, he became a villain–the guy who was really easy to hate. This season, James has been performing at a monstrously good level. Shooting high percentages, interacting with fans in the arena, smiling—he’s having fun out there. It’s hard for me to not like him.
In his show, Kay then questioned whether or not the so-called haters’ hate was even real. That made me realize I never really hated James. I was simply upset because he didn’t sign with my team–a feeling shared by many in the New York tri-state area, Chicago, and Cleveland. I got over it though, and I think many NBA fans did too.
CNN’s Rachel Nichols interviewed James in February. She asked him to explain what he feels on the court when he sees the basket, so a normal person may understand what’s going through his head. James responded with a beautiful mental illustration:
“It just feels like you’re on a beach.”
Now, all us non-superstar basketball athletes imagine ourselves relaxed on a beach. Got it. Next?
“You have a tennis ball.”
Okay, I imagine a tennis ball into my hand in the mental picture. And?
“No matter where you throw it, it’s gonna land in the water.”
So that’s what it feels like, huh? W o w. I respect people who do what they love, and I’m glad James is having fun out there on the court again. Seriously LeBron, good for you.
As for the streak, the Heat had to lose eventually. The second-longest winning streak in NBA history is a huge accomplishment, so there’s no need to hang heads. Now, the Heat and basketball world in general can focus on the upcoming Playoffs.