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Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's not just the Heat, it's the lack of humility: Bud Shaw's Sports Spin - Plain Dealer

lebron james dwyane wade.JPGDwyane Wade and LeBron James carried the Miami Heat over the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals. Hide your eyes for what could follow.

The South Beach Stars have found something without Chris Bosh -- each other.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are playing the way they played against each other one memorable day at The Q in 2006 when they evoked comparisons to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

"That's what the NBA is about," Heat guard Gary Payton said the day of the duel that saw James score 47 to Wade's 44. "Two young up and coming guys having big games like that."

And then joining forces four years later (in a move that Bird and Magic never considered) and predicting not one but seven or eight championships.

You might not want to look now or anytime in the next month. Because if your idea of a nightmare scenario is watching James climb atop a scorer's table with a trophy, this might be a good time to unplug the TV and tackle "Ulysses," "Moby Dick," "Finnegan's Wake," Sunday Spin or anything else from the list of the 10 Toughest Reads in Literature.

The Western Conference will produce a formidable opponent in Oklahoma City or San Antonio. So there's always a chance of the Heat falling short in the NBA Finals. Just don't count on it.

The scary thought for haters of the Heat is that what happened after Miami's Chris Bosh was lost to an abdominal strain in the series opener against Indiana -- they got better -- can't be traced solely to the Pacers' ineptness.

Indiana played some of the dumbest basketball ever witnessed in the playoffs. But that wasn't the whole problem. Wade and James were, on both ends of the court.

Less of Bosh and the Big Three offense meant more of Wade and James with some Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem thrown in. Not having Bosh focused the attack for Miami with Wade and James doing their dueling banjo thing in perfect harmony.

They're calling it the Big Three Minus One. The result is the best three-game stretch James and Wade have played since they stacked the team.

Wade scored 41 in Game 6 against Indiana. James had 28 points.

The three-game summary had Wade outscoring James, 99-98, and James dominating in rebounds (34-22) and assists (24-11).

James went for 40 points and 18 rebounds in Game 4.

"They're going to be tough to beat [for] anybody," Indiana coach Frank Vogel told reporters after the Pacers were eliminated.

Maybe another opponent who doesn't throw passes to the arena vendors and takes advantage of Miami in the low post will fare better than the Pacers did.

It will take that and more. Because we're seeing Wade and James play together with one basketball the way we previously saw them play against each other.

On that memorable April day six years ago, Mike Brown said of James: "He makes me look like I can coach. He waived me off so many times, called a play, and got us over the hump tonight. I should've just sat down and just let him get his triple double and coach the team."

Brown was only half-joking, if that.

This is the modern NBA where the stars call the shots and make them. And now only two more series stand between LeBron James and many people's worst nightmare.

Spinoffs

• 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said getting to throw to wide receiver Randy Moss is like "waking up on Christmas" and finding a brand new toy. Brandon Weeden will have to settle for what it must have felt like waking up on Christmas morning during the Depression.

• Manny Ramirez is eligible to return with the Oakland A's from his 50-game drug suspension on Wednesday, which is also his 40th birthday. The A's say the return may be delayed until Ramirez has more quality at-bats at Class AAA. Maybe the Indians and Johnny Damon might've given that some thought?

• The Indians are better equipped to deal with injuries, just not three at a time and not when the three are Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner.

• How come you never hear how Seneca Wallace didn't have any weapons last year, just that Colt McCoy lacked weapons? In the category of ammunition, they were both playing with the same pea shooter. The difference. One has a lot more years in the West Coast offense and a better arm. I'll keep that one. Yes, Wallace costs more money but unless Randy Lerner's trying to hit you up for a loan, what's it to you? The Browns aren't ignoring free agency because they're broke.

• A slogan for Indiana Pacers basketball in the wake of Larry Bird calling them soft: "We may be soft but we sure are dumb." The Pacers were eliminated at home in Game 6 despite Miami missing three players, including Bosh and Haslem. I swear if synchronized sprained ankles involving four opposing players left the Pacers with a 5-on-1 advantage, the only question would be which one of them would shoot the 3. "Throw it to the guy in the fifth row" is good advice for a QB whose only other option is taking a sack or throwing into triple coverage. Not so good for a Pacers player throwing a cross-court pass.

• Roger Goodell believes Wi-Fi in every stadium is the way to compete with HDTV and home theaters. Makes sense, but I'm pretty sure Steelers linebacker James Harrison will find a reason to rip him for it.

• Shaquille O'Neal, who recently got his Ph.D from Barry University, apparently was only interested in the Orlando Magic GM job if he could do it online.

• Dwight Howard headline: "I had no role in the Van Gundy firing." He must mean Jeff.

Mike Vanderjagt.JPGFormer Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt reportedly didn't take well to a middle-school student's taunts about his miss in a 2006 playoff game against the Steelers.

• Former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt is out as a middle school football coach in Marco Island, Fla., after a student claimed Vanderjagt choked him for a taunt of "wide left" -- a reference to Vanderjagt's missed kick in a 21-18 playoff loss to Pittsburgh in 2006 (which was wide right). Vanderjagt says he only put his hands on the boy's shoulders. I remember that Peyton Manning once called Vanderjagt "our idiot kicker" after Vanderjagt criticized him and head coach Tony Dungy. I just wasn't aware Peyton Manning had a kid in middle school.

• A forensics expert testifying at Roger Clemens' perjury trial traced DNA found in a cotton ball to Clemens, saying it was "unique to one person who has ever lived on the planet.". . . Amazing. The odds (173 trillion-to-1) also pertain to a pitcher throwing 95 mph well into his 40s while being injected with nothing stronger than B-12.

He said it

"[Star power] doesn't win baseball games. Good teams win baseball games" -- Chris Perez after the Indians swept the Tigers.

So if Detroit ever wants to trade Miguel Cabrera, sorry, the Tribe isn't interested.

He Tweeted it

"Very proud of our effort 2nite. What occurred in the 9th reeked of intent. Was ridiculous, absurd, idiotic, incompetent, cowardly behavior" -- Rays MGR Joe Maddon about Boston's part in a ninth-inning brawl.

But other than that, he was fine with it.

You said it: (The Expanded Sunday Edition)

Bud: No Sunday Spin [last week]? Were you becoming a legend at The Shoe and missed your deadline? -- Brad, Westlake

Yes. Now it can be told. I have been officially banned from yet another casino buffet.

Bud: Are the unfunny "You said it" entrants relatives of yours? -- Eric Kiska, Lorain

Yes they are, Cuz.

Bud: The Indians ask you to run in their condiment race. What do you do? Are you Mustard, Ketchup or Onion? -- Tom Hoffner, Broadview Heights

You lost me at "run."

Bud: Haven't been to an Indians game this year. Just wanted to know if Pronkville is still located between home plate and the dugout? -- Harvey, Solon

So you're the one who hasn't been to an Indians game this year.

Bud: Do you know the Indians' magic number for the AL Central? -- Faybones

Six or fewer players on the DL.

Hey Bud: If you put my comments in your Spin column, I assure you that you will be knocking on the door of that Pulitzer in no time. -- Nate J., Brunswick

You mean starting with the next one, obviously.

Bud: I experienced Ubaldo Jimenez pitch for more than four innings the other night. Should I consult my physician? -- Tom W.

First-time "You said it" winners receive a T-shirt from the mental_floss collection.

Bud: If Ubaldo Jimenez were to pitch batting practice, would that be considered a simulated game? -- Jim Lefkowitz, Pepper Pike

Repeat winners, like home run hitters, get the girl.

To reach Bud Shaw: bshaw@plaind.com, 216-999-5639

On Twitter: @budshaw

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