In November, the NBA issued a fine of $250,000 to the San Antonio Spurs because coach Gregg Popovich chose to leave stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, & Manu Ginobili back in Texas while the rest of the team traveled to Miami for a nationally televised game against the Heat. There was a great deal of controversy about that one, of course, but when the Heat traveled to San Antonio for an Easter Sunday game...........
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, & Mario Chalmers were held out of the game with injuries. They claimed that James suddenly pulled a hamstring, and that Wade & Chalmers had ankle issues. Miami still won, but not in blowout fashion. No fines were issued. Why? Because the Heat have gained favored nation status with the NBA office, due largely to the commercial endorsements of James (Sprite, State Farm) and Wade, whose two ads for Unilever's Dove Men-Plus Care products are getting major airplay this month. Couple this with James' whining about Chicago's rough play when the Heat saw their attempt at erasing the Los Angeles Lakers' 33 game winning streak go by the boards last Wednesday. Double standards and sour grapes, anyone?
Of course. The Heat have taken some heat for some choppy play, particularly by Wade, over the last couple of years, and James in particular thinks he is untouchable, because he sees himself as the NBA's golden child. Well, apparently, the office and their Madison Avenue partners think so, too, which is why Heat owner Mickey Arison's wallet hasn't gotten lighter. The Association announced Monday that there would be no discipline forthcoming against Miami, even if there exists a perception that the injuries may be a case of playing an April Fool's prank a day early, a little gamesmanship in the name of payback for Duncan, Parker, & Ginobili being too tired to fly to Miami in November.
It's wrong either way, and David Stern picks up his 2nd set of Weasel ears for allowing this to go unpunished. More than a year ago, James' circle of leeches were cited for doing something stupid just because of their association with James. This time, after I'd considered not doing so, I've decided to hand LeBron a set of Weasel ears as well, along with a pacifier for crying like a baby 'cause things didn't go his way. Reality is calling, pal. You ain't winning the title again in June. For the sake of the league and the game.