- Created on Thursday, 28 March 2013 01:46
This Miami Heat team has always needed failure to help find and define how great they can be. And so, in the end, with its near-historic winning streak halted at 27, it’s true again: Their setback allows us and them to sit back, marvel at what they accomplished and fully grasp just how much LeBron James has transformed himself, his team and his league.
Two years ago, the Heat needed a devastating collapse to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals to cut through their own cluelessness and fear and find themselves, a fact particularly true for LeBron. Last season, in two postseason series against both the Pacers and Celtics, Miami needed to face dangerous deficits to tap into a version of LeBron James that lifted them to a championship and has since changed the league itself, because that version of LeBron is unlike anything we’ve seen in a generation.
And in the Chicago Bulls' 101-97 victory Wednesday night, a win Chicago gutted out with rebounding and defense and willpower to best a superior opponent, let’s make no mistake. LeBron & Co. wanted desperately to best the 1971-72 Lakers' 33-game winning streak. So being deprived of it could be the best thing that’s happened to them since winning the Finals last year.
This isn’t the end of something. It’s the beginning. It’s a Heat team that is what they were feared to be two years ago – dominant on a historic scale, loaded to the point of unfairness, so good even the record books might not be safe. Only now they are not universally loathed, they are not led by a prodigy who doubts his own destiny, they are not burdened by their own mistakes and arrogance … and they are refocused and hungrier than ever because they’ve been deprived a piece of history they were so tantalizingly close to claiming.
The 33-game mark is the greatest team record in American professional sports, and as the Heat approached it, their desire became palpable. Gone was the fear of failure, the inability to handle the moment, the sudden shrinking that chasing history often inflicts on ambitious men. This was the team we all feared, before the Big Three transitioned from a sure thing to a cautionary tale.
They got a championship last year. But that happens every season. This year, and these past 27 games, they are something else entirely, something we have rarely seen in the NBA.
For LeBron in particular, this streak gave him an early taste of the kind of history he may some day grapple with.
LeBron is chasing Michael Jordan now, and this record was a glimpse into how he will do it as the years and opportunities present themselves. Being the greatest ever takes time and championships and MVP awards and iconic moments seared into the greater consciousness, and LeBron must still attain quite a bit more of most of them just to get into the conversation. He is a once-in-a-generation talent for whom we can only try to guess what today’s exploits mean over the course of the rest of his career.
But this record was a rare chance to close his gap just a little quicker between himself and Jordan. It was a kind of history, a line on the GOAT resume, that offered us a glimpse into how LeBron will tackle history when history offers him the chance. Most of that will come piecemeal. But his 27-game streak was a microcosm of what we can expect from him – how he’ll handle it, how it will make him or break him, how he’ll hunger for it or cower from it.
Getting to 34 games would have been a crowning moment for LeBron. He knew. He craved. He wanted it. And through his greatness, he almost made it happen. His 32 points, seven rebounds and four blocks against Chicago are the numbers behind his passion on just one night. Time after time, as the streak grew and became more meaningful, he was the force behind it.
No, Thursday wasn’t failure. It was a respite from the fact that this Heat team is what they once were billed as: a nearly unstoppable force. The fact is that LeBron is what he was supposed to be: a player worthy of chasing Jordan – a player whose skills can be used to chase history of a kind rarely seen.
The Heat did not set the record. LeBron could not work his magic on this 28th attempt. The Chicago Bulls, in The House That Jordan Built, reminded us all just how daunting it is to confront all-time greatness.
But what we saw, in the streak while it lasted and the failure when it ended, is a Heat team that is as good as any we’ve seen since Jordan led his Bulls to 72 wins. And in LeBron a player who a few years from now may again close in on a different kind of history – one that he could overtake or, like Wednesday night, just fall short of – that few thought approachable even a year ago: Michael Jordan’s.
- A new sandwhich shop opens its doors in Brewer!
- Joe Baldacci drops out of 2nd District race
- Maine Couple told to stop selling diet pills
- Habitat for Humanity is looking for some help from the community to give a family a home
- Penobscot Theatre February vacation camp includes new themed activities
- Police are looking for a man they say fled from a car crash
- Beware tax scams, IRS will not contact you by phone or email
- Report shows tax dollars being misused
- The Bangor Humane Society is inviting kids in the area to come make crafts
- Warmer weather is affecting events in Greenville
- Opening day of National Toboggan Races cancelled
- More limitations being placed on scallop fishermen
- The Coast Guard aided a disabled 65 foot fishing boat
- Suspicious fire in Oakland under investigation
- At least 2 killed, 100 others injured in Germany train collision
- At least 4 killed, 150 others injured in Germany train collision
- At least 8 killed, 150 others injured in Germany train collision
- Republican governors make possible last stand in NH primary as voting begins
- Republican governors eye strong showing in NH primary as voting begins
- Johnny Manziel's ex-girlfriend says QB's attack caused temporary hearing loss
- FBI says Clinton email investigation remains 'ongoing'
- Wife of ISIS leader charged in US in death of American hostage Kayla Mueller
- Hugh Jackman reveals fourth battle with skin cancer on Instagram, shares post-op photo
- Senate report: Illegal immigrants benefited from up to $750M in ObamaCare subsidies
- Pentagon confirms North Korea launched satellite into orbit
- CDC discovers new bacteria species that causes Lyme disease
- Casey Anthony launches her own photography business
- Pro-choice group cries foul over Doritos commercial 'Ultrasound'
- Bus bound for casino crashes on I-95 in Connecticut, dozens reported hurt
- Charter bus crashes on I-95 in Connecticut
- Charter bus crashes on I-95 in Connecticut, dozens reported hurt
- Porn actress drops lawsuit against Josh Duggar
- David Bowie, Beyonce both told Coldplay they hated their songs
- Why no one wanted 'The Notebook' role
- NFL star eyed in assault of off-duty cops in Philadelphia
- Cruise ship tossed in hurricane-force storm turning around, officials say
- How a cruise ship navigates a storm
- NYC cop on trial for deadly stairwell shooting breaks down on the stand
- Beyonce's Super Bowl Show Bringing Both Praise & Criticism
- Maroon 5 Thanks Taraji P. Henson For Mistaken Super Bowl Shout-Out
- Maroon 5 'Thanks' Taraji P. Henson After Mistaken Super Bowl Shout-Out
- Super Bowl Draws 111.9 Million Viewers, Down From Last Year
- 'The Good Wife' Bosses Talk Ending The Show, Spinoff Potential
- Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies In Stalking Trial, Says Man's Letters Were Upsetting
- Conan O'Brien Heading To Harvard To Give Talk
- 'Monsters, Inc.' & 'Big Hero 6' Screenwriter Daniel Gerson Dies At 49
- Flavor Flav Pleads No Contest To DUI Charge In Las Vegas
- Porn Actress Drops $500K Lawsuit Against Josh Duggar
- 'The Good Wife': CBS Announces Final Nine Episodes
- Beyonce Announces 2016 Tour
- Flavor Flav Due To Face Las Vegas Judge On Misdemeanor Case
- Here Come The Super Bowl 50 Ads
- 'Kung Fu Panda 3' Tops Weekend Box Office
- Alejandro Inarritu Wins AT DGA Awards For 'The Revenant'
- Beyonce Drops Surprise Single Ahead Of Super Bowl Halftime Performance With Coldplay
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Watson Named Visiting Fellows At Oxford College
- James Corden Recreates Classic Super Bowl Ad With Cindy Crawford For 'Late Late Show'
- Cindy Crawford & James Corden Recreate Her Classic Super Bowl Ad For 'The Late Late Show'
- Michael B. Jordan Wins Big At NAACP Image Awards
- Iggy Azalea Dishes On Her Sophomore Album
- Bruno Mars Finally Confirms Super Bowl Performance
- Adele Might Not Like It, But Donald Trump Can Use Her Music
- Tom Brady boasts that he is not one of the best QBs ever
- Peyton Manning's mom explains why it's time for her son to retire
- Report: Off-duty cops hospitalized after alleged altercation involving LeSean McCoy
- Advanced stats will probably love Michigan in 2016
- Audi tearjerker, 'Puppymonkeybaby' among Super Bowl winners
- Offbeat humor and upbeat messages dominate Super Bowl ads
- Breaking news: NASCAR to announce new 'charter' system for teams
- 2nd-seeded Cilic and Dodig advance to 2nd round in Rotterdam
- Jordan Spieth honors Peyton Manning with classic forehead joke after Super Bowl win
- Mets give cap-tip to fellow runner-up Panthers after Super Bowl loss
- Cam Newton's authenticity is highly questionable
- 2016 New York Mets Preview & Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep
- All-Star Bobblehead Series among Marlins promotions in 2016
- Broncos offseason to-do list, starting with moving on from Manning
- Cam Newton's image took the biggest hit of all during the Super Bowl
- Dodgers' Pederson had a great view of Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
- Paul George says he'll try to score 82 points in final game vs. Kobe
- From behind the lens at Super Bowl 50, Durant captures the other side
- DeMarcus Ware's son stole Deion Sanders' microphone after the Super Bowl
- Comfort wins: Stroman, Blue Jays watch Super Bowl 50 in onesies
- Parker to play with France despite wife's pregnancy
- Ronaldo open to leaving Real Madrid when contract expires
- Tyronn Lue on recent criticism: 'Look, they ridiculed Jesus Christ'
- Bryce Harper shared a laugh with Stephen Curry at Super Bowl 50