The optimists will either say it's still early, blame the injuries of Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem or say the team hasn't had time to gel because Dwyane Wade missed the entire preseason. The pessimists believe that this team, as constructed, is deeply flawed and those cracks are being exposed right before our very eyes. They can't share the ball. They have no point guard. They have no bench. Bosh is too soft. A quick scan of Internet shows a bunch of different fingers pointed in a bunch of different directions:
- In his podcast with Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald, The Sports Guy Bill Simmons talks about the importance of chemistry, the fact that LeBron James (a.k.a. Beta Dogg) and Wade are too similar, and how going from universally loved to loathed has impacted them, especially LeBron, profoundly. Le Batard takes a more pragmatic stance: that they are just getting hammered down low.
- The Heat front office might be quick to blame its fans, who apparently need to be educated on such things as showing up on time and standing up every now and then. Great basketball town.
- Even the Wall Street Journal got in on the action, suggesting the Heat are passing the ball too much, with fancy numbers to prove it.
- ESPN'S John Hollinger has the audacity to put the blame squarely on the Big Three (or as they are known at Wegobomber Basketball, "The Big Two and that Non-Franchise Guy who Led Toronto to 35-Win Seasons") for simply playing bad, a unexpected simultaneous drop-off in production and efficiency. How dare you suggest such a thing, John? Don't you know LeBron is taking mental notes like Santa Claus? When you least expect it, he's going to show up at your rec league and drop a 20-6-5 on dat ass.
- Of course, in this age of the multi-million dollar egomaniacal megastar, the scapegoat is usually the coach long before the players get a sniff of blame. The Coach Spo Must Go train has been picking up steam of late. Who cares if this is the same guy who somehow milked 90 wins the last two years out of team with one great player and a front office focused on nothing else but July 2010. Coach Spo Must Go! It is pretty telling that in a recent ESPN Sportsnation poll, 82% of respondents thought Eric Spoelstra would not be the coach of the Heat by the end of the season. The cynic in me wonders if half of the 42,000 votes originated from an IP address linked back to the offices of LMRM Marketing, but why would Team LeBron need to stoop that low when they can just send Spoelstra up the river through ESPN's Chris Broussard?
Here at Wegobomber Basketball, we don't put the onus on Coach Spoelstra. We don't put it on Dwyane Wade or LeBron James. And as much fun as it might be, we don't even put the blame on Chris Bosh and his apparent inability to grab any rebound unless it rolls to his feet. No, we put the blame for all the Heat's struggles squarely on the shoulders on one man.
We blame Juwan Howard.
That's right, Juwan. This freakishly bony left-index finger is pointed right at your forehead. We don't care that, by all accounts, you have been a consummate professional at every one of your 10(!) stops over your 17-year career. We don't care that you've outlived your Fab Five counterparts by a wide margin. We don't even care that you're the same age as us and can still play in the league while we can barely get net these days (okay, that one does sting a little). You are to blame for the Heat's struggles, even if you DNP-CD'd four of your team's eight losses.
You see, we at Wegobomber Basketball know things that the typical basketball fan doesn't. We know that there isn't a active NBA player alive that has lost more games than Juwan Howard. And it's not even close. His team's are 508-617 in regular season games that he has played in, a whole 2009-10 New Jersey Nets season ahead of 482-536 Joe Smith (currently on the Nets, fittingly). Sooner or later, all that losing just becomes part of who you are. Losing begets losing. And it's obviously contagious. There's really no other explanation. Just look at what this Loser's Stank has done to the Super Friends so far this season.
Most Career Losses, Active Players
1. Juwan Howard 508-617 (45.2%, 37.0 Wins/82 Games)
2. Joe Smith 482-536 (47.3%, 38.8)
3. Jason Kidd 693-511 (57.6%, 47.2)
4. Antawn Jamison 373-505 (42.5%, 34.8)
5. Kevin Garnett 655-486 (57.4%, 47.1)
You don't think this theory has any legs? Check out the list of lowest winning percentage among active players (over 600 games entering this year).
The Shareef Abdur-Rahim Trophy for Lowest Career Winning Percentage, Active Players (Min. 600 Games)
1. Jamal Crawford 238-438 (35.2%, 28.9 Wins/82 Games)
2. Elton Brand 276-443 (38.4%, 31.5)
3. Troy Murphy 244-377 (39.3%, 32.2)
4. Corey Maggette 281-429 (39.6%, 32.5)
5. Antawn Jamison 373-505 (42.5%, 34.8)
Loser's Stank on each and every one of 'em. Sure, Jamal Crawford has found himself a niche as sixth man on a quality team, but what about that 36.4% field-goal shooting in the playoffs? How many different bad teams does Elton Brand need to play on, usually as their highest paid player, before it's about him and not just being in the wrong place at the wrong time? The Nets are 5-6 in games that Troy Murphy doesn't play in this season, 1-6 in games that he does play. Coincidence? Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks were 46-36 and looked like one of the up and coming teams in the league. Then they trade for Corey Maggette and now they are 6-12? How do you explain that? And remember how the Cavs traded for Antawn Jamison last season expecting it to be the one-last piece of the championship puzzle (and if they had won, would LeBron still be in Cleveland today?) How'd that one work out? And since LeBron wasn't willing to take any flak for essentially giving up down the stretch, the blame for that Celtics series has to fall on somebody.
If you need any more evidence, there's one guy who should at the top of the list, but he can't get in enough shape to actually get on the court. Eddy Curry misses the 600-game threshold, but is 179-332 in games he's played in, an astonishing 35.0%. Like I said...(cue Jim Carrey) AHHLLoser!
Contrast that with the guys at the head of the list:
Highest Career Winning Percentage, Active Players (Min. 600 Games)
1. Tony Parker 487-198 (71.1%, 58.3 Wins/82 Games)
2. Tim Duncan 702-292 (70.6%, 57.9)
3. Shaquille O'Neal 800-382 (67.7%, 55.5)
4. Kobe Bryant 689-350 (66.3%, 54.4)
5. Derek Fisher 690-356 (66.0%, 54.1)
[Note: Manu Ginobili will eventually take over the top spot, he's 407-164 career (71.28%, 58.4 Wins).]
Not much difference between this five and the last five, other than the 22 rings, four MVP's, nine Finals MVP's and one Most Likely to Sleep with a Teammate's Wife award (not to be confused with the Most Likely to Sleep with a Teammate's Mom, which goes to Delonte West in a landslide.)
So, Juwan Howard, we're officially on to you. The Loser's Stank is a powerful virus. It probably shouldn't come to a surprise to anyone considering you've only been on 5 playoff teams and have made it past the first round just once. And we're sure if we dig around long enough, we can find evidence that you told Chris Webber that you guys had one T.O. left in that championship game against North Carolina. Since you never played for the Clippers, this virus had to originate somewhere else.
And as far fetched as this all sounds, just wait until Riley has taken over and the Heat are still middling as the 4-5 seed in the East. Eventually there may be three big (okay, two big fingers and one not-so-big finger) pointed at the Juwan's #5 jersey. When Broussard eventually breaks a story titled "Sources say Howard Causing Chemistry Problems", just remember where you heard it first.
Note: The Career Wins/Losses and Highest Losing Percentage questions are fun trivia for your unsuspecting fellow NBA fans. I survey a few confidants (a.k.a. golf buddies) before this column, and here were their answers.
Tom D, Brooklyn, NY - Knicks fan but barely follows today's NBA
1. Most Career Wins - Kobe (Correct Answer: Shaq)
2. Highest Career Win Pct - Kobe (Correct Answer: Parker)
3. Lowest Win Pct - Brand (Correct Answer: Crawford)
4. Most Career Losses - Brand (Correct Answer: Howard)
Wyatt H, San Antonio, TX - Die-Hard Nuggets Fan, J.R Smith and Spurs Hater
1. Most Career Wins - Kobe
2. Highest Career Win Pct - Duncan (close enough for me)
3. Lowest Win Pct - *crickets*
4. Most Career Losses - *crickets*
Jeff S, Minneapolis-St Paul - former sports journalist who follows the T-Wolves closely
1. Most Career Wins - Duncan
2. Highest Career Win Pct - Kobe, got Parker on 2nd guess
3. Lowest Win Pct - Baron Davis (Davis is 375-377, surprisingly)
4. Most Career Losses - Theo Ratliff (Ratliff is 411-397)
Jeff does get bonus points for bringing up Sebastian Telfair, who at 115-294 (28.1%!!) could be the heir to Crawford's throne, if he survives in the league long enough.
Wego, Chicago, IL - My partner-in-crime, who from now on will be referred to as Rainman
1. Most Career Wins - Shaq
2. Highest Career Win Pct - Duncan (close enough for me)
3. Lowest Win Pct - Eddy Curry (not right, but still right)
4. Most Career Losses - Juwan Howard
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