There are some things I will never quite understand about Avatar. For all of the hype, all of the months/years spent building, all of the insanely futuristic special effects and the mountains upon mountains of money put into the project, the movie was supposed to suck. It told the same story I’ve seen a gazillion times, and did it with weird blue creatures that weren’t nearly as cool as “Two Socks” from Dances With Wolves…not to mention that the scenes where the avatar and his alien lady hooked up got my stomach gurgling. Awkward for more than one reason.
Somehow though, I ended up watching the movie. Then watching it again. And again. All the while, I tried to convince myself that “Yep, what everyone told me is right: this movie sucks.” The funny thing? That never happened. It actually turned out to be reasonably entertaining. Even though Pocahontas from the dark ages of decent Disney movies told literally the same exact story, I actually made it through all 759 minutes of Avatar fairly easily.
Why Avatar? Because it actually reminds me a lot of Miami. Seriously. Bear with me.
Everyone told me this Heat team would be a train wreck, or at least wouldn’t win a title (which I guess constitutes a train wreck in this instance). All of the money, all of the Riley genius, all of the star power wouldn’t be enough. The Lakers were back and better than ever, Boston was exactly what the Heat were not (team-oriented, defense-first, hundreds of pounds of beef up front and most of all, they had history together). I heard it all summer from a lot of people outside of Jeff Van Gundy. Those cries grew even louder once the Heat got ruffed up a few times by Boston and then fell to 9-8. There was Bumpgate, and even as the Heat mowed down helpless, lottery-bound teams who lacked the talent to be nothing more than underclassmen shrinking in the way of LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh‘s collective B.M.O.C., no one really believed in them.
But now? These guys are two wins away from an NBA championship, maybe even two straight wins away from the first five game sweep of the Finals since 2004 when Detroit laid waste to the Lakers. This should be a bigger story than it is. Amazingly, people everywhere are suddenly convinced this Heat team is overly talented, needed no luck whatsoever and had this title wrapped up since February. That revisionist history generally happens when you’re this close to glory. But it’s not right at all.
This is a team that gave up on Dorell Wright, who proceeded to go to Golden State, average 16 and five and make more threes than anyone IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE this year. You can’t tell me this guy wasn’t perfect for this team. Their best big man off the bench is either a guy who really isn’t that big at all (Udonis Haslem) or a guy who somehow made it this far without falling apart (Juwan Howard) and has facial hair older than some of his teammates. They shuffled players in and out of the lineup all season; their two centers for basically the entire year don’t even play anymore. Their opening night starter at point is probably on South Beach partying with Pitbull right now.
A few years ago, they were one pick away from nabbing Derrick Rose instead of Michael Beasley. Now, say what you want about that night, but realistically the Big Three never happens if Rose is wearing a Heat jersey. No chance. Instead, they end up with a guy who now is being run out of Minnesota of all places, all the cards fell in line and BOOM, they have a potential dynasty on their hands.
They benefitted from the unbelievably weird timing of the Perkins trade, and then made it to the Finals to play a Dallas team that has exactly one All-Star. Think about that. The West has been dominated for the past decade by Duncan, Kobe & Shaq. In their first year together, the Heat get Dirk and a bunch of guys who were better players three years ago.
Then, there are the characters of this bunch:
Erik Spoelstra: If Pat Riley is considered the Godfather (in a recent ESPN article, Spoelstra said: “If you know Pat, you go into his office, he calls you in there and it’s like talking to the Godfather. The lights are always dim. He can see you, but you can’t really see him…”), then Spo undoubtedly used to be Fredo. Young. Inexperienced. The organizational b#$%^. He did grunt work, the behind-the-scenes stuff, but when it came time for decisions, all the big wigs would step in front like “Hold it there, kiddo.” It took him well over a decade to finally get some real recognition. How did he never leave? Who does that? That’s like waiting tables at Buffalo Wild Wings for years, struggling with clientele who don’t tip well, waiting for the chance to get behind the bar and it never coming. He was the nerd, the video guy, the tiny college player who rose not through the coaching ranks but through electronics.
Now, he’s a 40-year-old telling LeBron James what to do. And somehow LeBron is listening. So are Chris Bosh & D-Wade. Huh?