Heat Twitter President’s “Manifesto,” A Guide For Disengaged HEAT Fans
This Miami HEAT team is tough to watch. It hit me like a ton of bricks Monday night as I was assigned the unenviable task of live-tweeting what I thought would be a miserable massacre in San Antonio.
At one point in the game, somewhere near the end of the second quarter, my eyes drifted to Monday Night Football, and I forgot that I was charged with navigating Heat Twitter through what was shaping up to be a deflating blowout.
Surprisingly, the young HEAT team made a game of it, despite missing the leadership of their Slovenian floor general. Led by Dion Waiters’ scoring, Hassan Whiteside’s energy and Justise Winslow’s playmaking, Miami clawed back and only lost by FOUR points.
But as I bid adieu to the Miami Heat Beat faithful on Twitter and gave my full attention to Eli Manning and company, I felt a strange sensation. I was satisfied with the HEAT’s loss.
No, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t overcome with joy at the prospect of lottery balls and draft night uncertainty. What I felt was a soothing sense of perspective wash over me while dissecting the loss, whereas in the past, there was only undulating anger.
Was I becoming apathetic? Had the prospect of a season spent in the dregs of the Eastern Conference broken me?
No, that wasn’t it. I guess I’ve finally come to the conclusion that wins don’t matter this year.
Yes, I sound like a recreational league basketball coach soothing a group of sobbing 9-year-olds that just lost by 40 to a team where the opponent’s center had a mustache. But, the same message can be applied here. The HEAT just aren’t good enough, and Kawhi Leonard is the 6-foot-1, 9-year-old with hairy armpits and a drivers license.
Does that put me on #TeamTank? Hell no. The idea of rooting for your team to lose frankly sickens me. What a miserable viewing experience.
Am I supposed to fist pump every time Waiters misses a layup? (That much fist pumping would undoubtedly be unhealthy) Should I rejoice when Erik Spoelstra inserts Luke Babbitt into the lineup? Should I pray that Justise Winslow’s jump shot stays as unreliable as a Donald Trump campaign promise?
So how does one watch this HEAT season? How can a Miami HEAT fan stay engaged night after night when the prospects of playoff games and any kind of significant winning feel so grim?
Luckily for you, I’ve put together a quick guide—a few bullet points to keep in mind—as you pour yourself another cocktail while bracing for the inevitable third quarter meltdown.
1. Ignore the Score
Not easy to do as its presence looms menacingly at the bottom of your TV screen. But give it a shot. Don’t worry about the 10-2 run that the HEAT just got smacked by. Instead, watch for the response.
Do they keep fighting through screens? Do they continue to move the ball? Do they abandon all principles and resort to hero ball? Keep these things in mind as the coaching staff tries to build habits and a competitive nature.
2. Ignore the Misses
Not your wife dummy, the missed shots. Worry less about how many shots carom off the rim or if the even hit the rim at all. Notice the QUALITY of shots the HEAT are getting. Are the jump shots wide open? Are shooters getting the ball in rhythm? Are the guards penetrating and getting to the basket?
The answers to those questions are indicative of the type of offense the team is running and if the coaching staff has the buy-in from the roster. Let’s face it, 75 percent of the dudes missing the shots aren’t going to be on the team next year, so who cares if they can shoot? If ball movement, solid screens and spacing are allowing Waiters a straight line to the rim, just imagine that for next year. If the process is the same, it’ll be somebody else driving in the lane. Anybody else, please.
3. Ignore the Makes
Sometimes you can’t help when the other team gets hot. Sometimes Patty Mills just decides to stick that knife in and twist it real slow despite having a hand in his smug face. Look instead at the rotations.
Are guys in the right spot? Does it look like the other team is running a layup drill? Are shooters being run off the 3-point line or is there at least a solid closeout? Does Babbitt look like he knows what time zone he’s in?
The talent may not be there this year, but the principles should be. So far, Miami has been an above average defensive club and that shouldn’t be ignored. It means that a roster full of castaways is accepting HEAT culture and that bodes well for the future.
4. Ignore the Roster
Well, everyone who isn’t named Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson or Tyler Johnson. It may seem harsh, but don’t get attached to the rest of these guys. Whether this team makes a run at a playoff spot or if they are firmly entrenched in the lottery, this team will look vastly different come next year. The question is: When will this start to happen?
If the wins don’t start coming, the answer is sooner rather than later. Pat Riley has already stated that he wants another draft pick, and he ain’t getting it with just looks and charm. If this team is eight games under .500 in mid-December, expect a “For Sale” sign to be posted outside of the Heat locker room.
So, focus on the guys who will be in Miami long-term. Watch for their development and keep in perspective how young they are and how far they have to grow. As a HEAT fan, you should want guys like Winslow, Richardson and Johnson to be on the floor in crunch time. You want them playing the most significant minutes while building good habits. Win or lose, this season is really lost if you’re closing games with your future watching Waiters dribble the air out of the ball.
There you have it. Is it ideal? No, but someone’s gotta be the Minnesota Timberwolves. We’ve been spoiled as a fanbase by this team for so many years, so it’s only right that we give them a chance to regroup. We owe it to them.
This season isn’t about a title or meeting LeBron James in the playoffs. It’s about the future. Who knows, maybe a ping-pong ball falls in our lap or maybe even a whale with one eyebrow. But for now, all we have is the current 2016-17 Miami HEAT. That and a well-stocked liquor cabinet will have to do.