The Miami Heat were supposed to run roughshod over the NBA. They were supposed to have at least 73 wins this season before sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. However, the Heat are currently a 0.500 team that looks like they won’t catch a sniff of even a division crown. The Heat could have been a viewership draw as a dominant force that everyone would respect but want to see torn down at the same time. As they’re no threat to win the NBA championship, it’s time to dip into the David Stern slash Vince McMahon playbook to salvage the NBA season. It’s time for a complete heel turn.
We already know, thanks to Tim Donaghy, that the NBA’s head office sends out directives to league officials about specific games. According to Donaghy, these are really code for how the game should play out. Assuming that what he says is true, the NBA has no problem with manipulating games to increase TV ratings and popularity. So why wouldn’t the NBA want to get involved in a little manipulation with the players to boost interest.
The Miami Heat are a soft team with no presence in the paint. The blame has been laid squarely at the feet of Chris Bosh with more than a few media pundits calling for him to be traded to get the parts the Heat need. It seems as though Bosh’s play is more at fault for the Heat’s struggles than the lackadaisical attitudes of their star players, but I digress. Whatever the root cause for the Heat’s struggles, something has to be done to fix it.
And that’s where my plan to kill two birds with one stone comes in. LeBron could become the biggest draw in NBA history and the heat could get their problems in the paint solved in one swift go. Now, if I was a fast typist, I would have said that my plan would be best executed last Thursday after the Heat and LeBron went to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers. However, perhaps this would have just as great an impact if they executed it on Christmas Day in front of a national audience on ABC.
The Heat will inevitably go down in defeat to the Lakers. Whether it’s a blow out or a last-minute shot by Kobe for the win is irrelevant really. The loss will, however, mean that the Heat cannot beat or tie the single season mark of a 72-10 record. So as the cliché confetti falls from the rafters of the Staples Center, the Three Kings walk downtrodden back toward their bench. As they do so, Bosh and LeBron start arguing. Wade gets in between the two and calms things down. When it looks like the Three Kings have everything patched back up, Wade double crosses Bosh and kicks him in the groin Linda McMahon style. That starts a beatdown that leaves Bosh battered and bruised on the floor at the hands of LeBron and Wade. When coach Erik Spoelstra tries to intervene, he gets tossed through the scorer’s table. Then Pat Riley walks onto the court, looking like only Riley can, telling Spoelstra that he’s fired and Bosh that he’s traded.
Over the next couple of days, no one hears a word from Bosh. No statements from the media except from his agent updating his condition and no tweets. While CB disappears off the face of the earth, Riley trades Bosh to Houston along with a draft pick for Luis Scola and Jared Jeffries. That solves the Heat’s problems. However, Houston cuts Bosh for not reporting as he stayed in Dallas to nurse his injuries and was rumoured to talk to Rockets management and players about retiring.
Fast forward to the playoffs. The Heat improve significantly over the second half of the season, moving up to fourth in the league by season’s end. They sweep Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs and take six games to eliminate the Celtics in the Conference Semi-Finals. That puts them through to the Conference Finals against the rival Orlando Magic. Heading into the series, the Heat are playing up their domination of all comers over the last five months. Dwight Howard of the Magic promise the Heat a big surprise in store for Game One.
On the night of the first game of the Conference Finals, Dwight Howard is the fourth man introduced for the host Magic instead of being the last introduced. Then the announcement goes over the PA system “And starting at forward, at 6’11” from Georgia Tech. Number four, Chris Bosh!” The crowd goes wild as CB4 makes his return to the NBA after five months at home biding his time before getting revenge. The returned CB4 goes 30-10 to lead the Magic to victory in game one over the Heat and the Magic win the series in five with Bosh posterizing Wade in the series-clinching game.
All this leads to the NBA being a topic around the proverbial water cooler. The trio of LeBron, Wade and Riley become the NBA’s equivalent of the nWo who propelled the WCW to not only the top of the wrestling food chain but the top of US cable television. With a big villan and a story that is compelling to more than the hardcore basketball fan, the Miami Heat that I create in my hypothetical are able to meet both those criteria. Chris Bosh’s return at the end of the season will draw fans back in for the Conference Finals and NBA Finals.
Of course, it would be extremely cynical of me to assume that the NBA, the NBA Players Association, the Miami Heat and the Three Kings would conspire in order to promote the league. Like I said at the top, it’s not like we haven’t had a former NBA official tell us about league edicts that mysteriously affect the outcome of games. But if the NBA would be foolish not to embrace the fact that they’re a form of entertainment when looking at a way forward.