Apologies for yet another column discussing the merits of the Miami Heat, but there’s an interesting confluence of events happening right now in NBA circles. Several members of the 1972-73 New York Knicks are coming out of the woodwork in anticipation of Friday night’s ceremony honoring the team at the Madison Square Garden. It’s true that several of the team’s members have long had very visible jobs in the public eye – Willis Reed and the late Dave DeBusschere as team executives, Phil Jackson as a legendary coach, Walt Frazier as New York’s colorful TV analyst – but NBAniks are still giddy at the prospect of one of the unique teams in NBA history returning for one night to talk up the league they took two championships from.
Former Knick forward and former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley walked away from public life after failing short in his bid to earn the Democratic nomination for President in 2000. Since then he’s mostly remained mum on not only the political scene, refusing to trot himself out as a talking head for the various cable station chatfests, but also in discussion of the league he played for from 1967 to 1977. That’s changed now, as Bradley talks with Marc Berman of the Post, in anticipation of Miami’s potential second championship, and Tuesday night’s contest between the Knicks and the Heat:
“Miami won last year because they played as a team,’’ Bradley said. “They were unselfish. There’s a connection there. I really do believe LeBron, [Dwyane] Wade and [Chris] Bosh and [Shane] Battier, they really want to be champions more than they want individual achievements. They realize being a champion is the highest individual achievement.’’
Has [Carmelo] Anthony learned that yet?
“He’s a great offensive talent, no question,’’ Bradley said. “I don’t know him enough. I don’t know if he has. I hope so. And he might already know it.
“For him and for all the players, I hope they win a championship,’’ Bradley added. “There’s nothing like that experience in New York. At the end of the day, no one player ever thought he was as good as all five of us working together. And that was true of Phil Jackson’s Bulls and Lakers and of Miami.”
Possible Anthony slight aside – it could be true that Bradley genuinely hasn’t seen enough of Carmelo Anthony this season to offer a scouting report, as opposed to merely looking out for his fellow Knick – Miami’s ability to move the ball around the court with such alacrity genuinely does remind of those fabled Knick teams.
It’s true that, just five months into the team’s title defense, that we are possibly overrating the Heat. It’s also true that the team is coming off of a 27-game winning streak, and well on its way toward a third Finals appearance and potential second title.
That’s as many titles as those legendary Knick teams earned, either overcoming or falling to luminaries from Los Angeles, Boston, Milwaukee, or Baltimore along the way. Throughout the 2010-11 season and for most of the 2011-12 season we criticized Miami for its inability to work as anything more than a “my turn/your turn”-team. But now they’ve happened upon the theory that made those Knicks teams so wonderful to watch: