Well, that's crazy. You can't play a 100-game season, take eight or nine football-type hits every game and expect your body to hold up. When Wade's body finally gave out, it happened during a blowout in Game 5 on a simple crossover move he probably made 5,000 times this season crossover, two steps to the left, elevate, release certainly not the type of play that potentially should end someone's season. It was like his body finally gave out, almost like a car engine that just won't start one morning.
And that's why I don't think people should play the "Pistons were lucky to win the series" card. The bottom line was Wade carried a superhuman load for Miami all season almost like a 450-carry season for an NFL running back and only because his supporting cast wasn't good enough to assume some of that burden. When he finally broke down and needed some help, the Heat didn't have enough talent to help him. That's why they lost. Over a 100-game season, Detroit was a slightly better all-around team.
Two other notes while we're here:
1. The Pistons possibly would have beaten the '87 Celtics if Dantley and the Microwave didn't crack heads in Game 7, and they would have won the '88 title if Isiah didn't sprain his ankle in Game 6. So if anyone was due for a break of "the best opposing player suffering a debilitating injury right as his team was taking control of the series" caliber, it was the Detroit Pistons. Between Wade's injury and Fisher making the miracle shot last spring allowing them to avoid the Spurs and play the Lakers instead (a much better matchup for them) I think we're finally even.
2. Whenever people start the "Who was the best NBA champ ever?" argument, they never take into account what happened the year after the title. Shouldn't the way you defended the title be factored into the overall greatness of that particular team? For instance, the '83 Sixers are considered to be one of the greatest teams ever, but they couldn't even get out of the first round against the Nets the next year. Shouldn't that matter? Anyway, you have to hand it to the 2005 Pistons. Maybe they aren't as good as last year's team case in point: Poor Rip Hamilton had to play 48 minutes last night, which had to be the stat of the playoffs so far but they rose to the occasion when it mattered. I didn't think they had it in them.
(Note to self: Probably not a good idea to underestimate the defending champs in a big game again.)
Posted: June 7, 2005, at 2:31 p.m. ET
Here's how I think tonight's Game 7 goes down:
8:00 EST TNT kicks off the telecast with goose bump-provoking slow motion footage of Dwyane Wade walking onto the court for the pregame warm-ups, accompanied by a song that was released at least 20 years ago.
8:04 Our first ad for "The Closer," premiering June 13 only on TNT!
8:04 Guys in their 30s across the country mutter to themselves, "Man, what happened to Kyra Sedgwick?"
8:10 TNT's "Inside the NBA" crew makes their predictions. Magic takes Miami because, "When it's winnin' time, you need the big fella on your side, and when the big fella's on your side, it's winnin' time!" Kenny takes Detroit because of "playoff experience these guys have been here before." And Charles takes Detroit because "Number one, they have another gear. First of all, that's the most important thing in a Game 7, because number one, you need that second gear. And if you don't have that second gear, then first of all, you better have your best players healthy, and number one, Dwyane Wade isn't healthy."