Dwyane Wade and LeBron James smile like little kids before last season's opener (Chris Trotman/ Getty).
On Tuesday night, the Miami Heat will receive their championship rings for the second-consecutive season. It's a momentous occasion for the franchise, a time for celebration and remembering all that went into last June's triumph. It's hard to imagine how anyone involved with the franchise could look upon the event and find it lacking.
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Except for the fact that the Heat players have to follow up that pregame ceremony by facing a very good basketball team. Shortly after receiving their rings, the Heat will play the Chicago Bulls and their returning star Derrick Rose. It's such a challenge, in fact, that reigning MVP LeBron James wishes the ceremony didn't take place before such a big contest. From Michael Wallace for ESPN.com:
James appreciates the acknowledgment and festivities associated with players, coaches and team executives receiving their championship rings. But he'd like to share in the emotional moments and memories on a night other than the regular-season opener – or any game night.
“It is what it is – there's nothing we can do about it,” James said Sunday as the Heat prepared for Tuesday's ring ceremony that will take place before the season opener against Chicago. “It's something we'd rather do [earlier], take care of last year. After we get our rings, then that's last year. And then we'll go from there.” [...]
James said it will be difficult to keep up with everything going on and still remain focused entirely on the Bulls.
“It's hard,” James said. “I'm going to see some of it. You don't take it for granted. We did some special things last year, and this is a time to look back at it one more time. I definitely won't lose sight of what's in front of me.”
This perspective makes a great deal of sense, because NBA players are ultimately doing a job that depends on consistent preparation. Having to juggle a pregame celebration with typical gameday preparation can be a hassle, and it would make sense for the honorees to wish to focus on that moment of joy on its own. They earned it, after all.
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Yet there's another issue with the setup. When the opponent sees a team celebrating before a game even starts, it can serve as extra motivation. Chris Bosh explained the mentality in the most poetically scatological terms possible. From Tom Haberstroh, also for The Heat Index:
The Heat were in the Bulls' shoes just two years ago. After losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Finals, the Heat opened the season in Dallas after the lockout ended and got revenge by beating the Mavs by double digits.
"We wanted to embarrass [the Mavericks] on their home floor," Bosh said. "We wanted to defecate on their night and we know [the Bulls] want to do that to us. They want to spoil what we have going and we're aware of that. We have to hit first."
Best of luck to the mop boys at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday night.
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