It’s inarguable that the Miami Heat have assembled a pretty impressive team this summer. Once they were able to retain Dwyane Wade, and convince Chris Bosh and LeBron James to come to Florida, I still thought that they had their work cut out for them. Well, I for one was both impressed and surprised with the supporting cast that Pat Riley was able to build around those three guys. Apparently so is ESPN/ABC analyst and former head coach, Jeff Van Gundy.
Jeff has officially taken a sizeable gulp of the Miami Heat Kool-Aid and has bought in to what they are selling. So much that he even has a Kool-Aid mustache. In speaking to the Miami Herald the other day about the new-look Miami Heat, Jeff said:
“They will break the single-season win record [of 72, held by the 1995-96 Bulls]. And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers’ 33-game [win] streak [to start the 1971-72 season], as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year.” Van Gundy would continue, “They have put together a much better roster than anybody could ever have expected. There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will.”
Wow. To say that those are some bold words would be the understatement of the year. I have the utmost respect for Jeff Van Gundy’s basketball acumen. When listening to the games that he calls (usually alongside Mike Breen and Mark Jackson), it’s easy to tell that the man knows what he is talking about. In fact, I think it’s unfortunate that he isn’t coaching currently. However, his brother Stan Van Gundy is. It’s easy to get up in arms about Van Gundy’s outrageous predictions, but I have to question why. Could it have something to do with the fact that he’s trying to light a fire under his brother’s Orlando Magic squad? That could have something to do with it. The Magic have been nothing short of disrespected this summer since the Miami Heat reloaded. Many people have already crowned the Heat with the Eastern Conference title. It’s not until you stop and think, that you remember Orlando and Boston.
While I think his brother’s squad has something to do with his statements, I don’t think it was his sole agenda. Despite how off-the-wall Jeff’s quotes sound, now that I think about it, it’s hard to argue against what he’s saying; at least one part of it. LeBron James led a more-or-less pedestrian Cleveland Cavaliers team to 66 wins last season. He had the help of Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison (only for part of the season), an overrated Shaq (at this stage of his career anyway) and a slew of role players. With the team that he has now, six more wins shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. I’m not saying that I think the Heat will win 72+ games, but I guess I see where Jeff is coming from.
However, his claim that they’ll win 33 in a row is tough to swallow. That’s a whole lot of games. That’s multiple months without losing. I also take issue with his thought that they won’t lose two games in a row. Even the 1995-96 Bulls couldn’t do that. They lost two games in a row that season.
Jeff has since backed off his stance slightly (probably due to the reaction that it has received), but I still think he meant what he has said. I have never seen a team with so much pressure to win, like there is with this Miami Heat team. This is still a team of strangers and I’m sure that everyone on the team can’t name everyone else on the team.
If you’re looking for your everyday, predictable basketball talk, then go somewhere else, because Kevin Burke of The Kevin Burke Project brings provocative, thought provoking content about basketball as only he can. Kevin also hosts The Hoop Doctors weekly podcast show, which you can subscribe too for free on iTunes.