The Portland Trail Blazers scored a 105-96 road win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, sending Miami to its fifth straight defeat and sixth loss in eight games since the league resumed play after the All-Star game. Coming on the heels of Miami coach Erik Spoelstra telling reporters that "some in the Heat locker room were moved to tears" after Sunday's home loss to the Chicago Bulls, which engendered a national referendum on just how Charmin-soft the Heat must be (and some snickering from New York Knicks stars Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Carmelo Anthony(notes)), the loss to Portland added about a foot of fresh powder to the snowballing notion that the Heat just don't have what it takes to do what needs doing in this league.
After the game, NBA TV studio host Rick Kamla began to discuss what we'd just watched before catching a glimpse of his colleague, analyst Chris Webber, covering his face and clearly waiting for a setup. Kamla, of course, obliged.
"No, I'm just misty-eyed," followed by a megawatt smile. Maybe not the wryest wit, but it sure does twist the knife, doesn't it?
Webber and fellow analyst Kevin McHale had given the dagger multiple turns throughout the evening — after a late Blazers bucket seemed to push the contest out of reach, McHale reached back to Hank Williams Jr. for inspiration and said, "It's all over but the crying" — and they certainly weren't alone.
Basketball watchers around the world are flat-out laughing at the Miami Heat right now, savoring the schadenfreude that stems from watching the proud laid low and miring in the muck. And the harder that Spoelstra, LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Chris Bosh(notes) and the rest of the crew try to put up a resolute and indignant front about the team's recent struggles, the louder the roar gets from a populace that doesn't believe the bluster.
After the laughter subsided, Webber bared his fangs a bit, offering some straight talk and sound advice to the floundering Floridians.
Webber rhetorically asked how the Heat's troubles compare to a list of teams, coaches and players that have battled through adversity this season before arriving at a truism: "C'mon, man. That's the league, man."
Obstacles crop up all the time for NBA teams — for confirmation, the Heat needed only look across the court Tuesday night, considering the ceaseless stream of key injuries the Blazers have faced in recent years. Legitimate contenders find ways to surmount them, to grab the "extra tire in the back" of the Ferrari when one goes flat and keep it moving. Right now, the questions about Miami's ability to change its own tires are getting harder and harder to ignore — Webber's damning comments on Spoelstra's "high school speech" and receiving calls about how the coach "had never been through it" should hit Heat fans harder than any cracks anyone makes about the players getting weepy.
And judging by the "We want Riley" chants that rang out in the American Airlines Arena with seven minutes left in the fourth Tuesday night, those fans — however many there are, anyway — are feeling the sting.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clips above aren't rocking for you, please feel free to peruse Webber's crocodile tears elsewhere thanks to djalbertpr, and Webber's prescription for the Heat thanks to our man @Jose3030.
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- Chris Webber