Monday, March 7, 2011

There's no crying in basketball! Or is there?

(photo courtesy of

After their fourth straight loss Sunday against the Bulls at home, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra admitted in a post-game interview that some players were crying in the locker room. Since those words were uttered, there has been speculation abound about what Spoelstra said.

Some people don't believe the Heat players were crying; they seem to think Spoelstra went into that interview with a gameplan to deceive the media and say his players were crying as some sort of posturing technique.

Today, Spoelstra said nobody was "whimpering" and there were no "guys with heads down." He blamed the media for taking his statement out of proportion. This doesn't seem like posturing to me and if you're going to say your million-dollar professional athletes were crying in the locker room, you have to expect some backlash.

I understand the Heat is unhappy. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are not players that want to be hated. They may respond well to boos and the mockery of opponents like Dwight Howard but deep down, these guys want to be embraced for doing one thing: Winning.

That's something they haven't done lately and something they haven't done consistently all season against good teams. In four games at home against winning teams since the new year, Miami is 0-4. They led in all four games and lost each by five or less points.

This team still has some chemistry issues and they struggle in last-shot situations, as seen by the fact they have missed 13 straight shots in the final 10 seconds that could have tied the game or given their team the lead. But the bigger issue to me is: Were these guys really crying?!?

The last time I remember a player crying after a loss was Adam Morrison when Gonzaga was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in 2006. While I hated on Morrison's emotional outburst at the time and still do, at least he was reacting to his team's season ending. Regardless, this was just one more reason why his talents never translated to the NBA; you can't be soft.

Whoever was crying in the Heat locker room should be ashamed. You play 82 regular-season games in the NBA; no individual game means more than any other, regardless of streaks or quality of opponent.

While that is a blanket statement that some people would disagree with, it's hard to disagree with the statement that you should never be crying after a regular-season loss. These guys have played hundreds of essentially meaningless basketball games in their lives and this one loss drives them to tears? What a joke.

I understand the Heat is frustrated with their inability to close games against contending teams, both at home and on the road. But crying your eyes out in the locker room isn't going to solve anything; if anything, it tells me that you're soft.

Teams with soft players don't win championships, especially if James, Wade or Bosh, their "leaders," were the ones perpetuating the waterworks. If Miami doesn't grab a box of Kleenex soon, they could be in trouble: Their next seven games are against playoff-caliber basketball teams.

Maybe this incident will be a turning point for this team. Maybe they will use this negative attention to come out and start closing games in the fourth quarter. Maybe we will look back at this in May and laugh while the Heat take the NBA title.

But it's more likely that we will witness Miami players crying after they lose in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. I already had my doubts about this team, how they compare to other contenders and their ability to handle adversity. After "Crygate," those doubts have been magnified tenfold.

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