Q: Did Chris Bosh forget his most recent promise to play and try harder? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like his effort has been regressing. I cannot understand how a player with his talent can allow third-tier centers and power forwards to outplay him. I don't buy into the excuse that he is a third wheel. Is there something wrong with him? -- Omied, Los Angeles.
A: No. And when you get to watch him in person, you can see that effort is the last thing that should be questioned. He is as active as any player defensively the way he blitzes pick-and-rolls and then scrambles back into the post. He puts in plenty of defensive mileage. To a degree, recent foul trouble has thrown off his timing, as well as efforts to get Dwyane Wade going. And I don't see as many players outplaying him as you do. What I see is a selfless presence not allowing statistics to define his contribution.
Q: With back-to-back season-ending injuries to Derrick Rose, what does that say, if anything, about Dwyane Wade and/or the Heat as an organization keeping him healthy, comparatively speaking? D-Rose and Wade play the same style. It's amazing Dwyane hasn't had the same kind of injuries. -- Kevin, Sunrise.
A: Oh, Dwyane has had more than his share of injuries. But Dwyane also has tamed his game, no longer boasting about falling and rising again. He long ago began to appreciate the toll of those tumbles. Explosive players tend to have explosive injuries. To a degree, Dwyane may have benefited by a loss of some of that explosion.
Q: Why has Udonis Haslem not been playing? He is not injured anymore. -- Sebass, Lake Worth.
A: Because it ain't broke (the Heat's winning streak, not Udonis back). Even Udonis has acknowledged as much. The Heat have been thriving with a shooting wing at power forward during this winning streak, be it Shane Battier of Rashard Lewis. But the Heat also tend to change styles as the season plays out. Seemingly just when a Heat player is counted out, he tends to have his moments. I wouldn't write off Udonis just yet.
November 28, 2013
Q: I guess David Stern had to give it to Pat Riley one last time (nixing the Juwan Howard deal in 1996, penalizing the Heat tanking in the 2008 draft lottery) before he left for good. How can a two-time, back-to-back champion be on the road for Thanksgiving and then Christmas? Champs on the road for holidays is just wrong. -- Julio.
A: And for Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 20, as well (although with Easter on April 20, they'll likely be home for that, for their playoff opener). To a degree, perhaps we should look at the flip side. Because the Heat are on the road Thanksgiving week as well as Christmas week (and flying home on New Year's eve), at least AmericanAirlines Arena workers were able to prepare for Thanksgiving at home and also will be off on Christmas. As for the injustice of it all, the players will be the first ones to tell you that they are thankful year-round for what they have, to a degree every day being like Christmas with their paychecks. Yes, it might be tough on their families, but how many families have dads who get (at least) three consecutive months off every year? Oh, and a happy Thanksgiving to all and a happy Hanukah to many.
Q: Ira, do you think LeBron expects the sort of payday that Kobe received? -- Jason.
A: No, nor do I think he'd want it. The only team that can offer such a legacy deal based on LeBron's current contract is the Heat. And with what Pat Riley has built, I think LeBron recognizes the advantages of leaving a little on the plate, be it for Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Ray Allen or Shane Battier. Those Samsung commercials look a lot better than if they had been shot in a locker room with Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly and Elias Harris (yes, they're all current Lakers).
Q: Ira, why do people so worry about LeBron leaving Miami? I don't think he wants to go through the chemistry issues experienced by NBA teams such as the Nets, with their current mix; the Knicks, when they tried to pair Carmelo with Amare; the Lakers, last season with Dwight; Houston, this season with Howard and Asik; and even the 2011 Heat. Such an inevitable adjustment process with a new group of players would mean going backward for him. -- Luis, Miami.
A: I agree. But if such a short-term readjustment were to guarantee long-term success, then I could somewhat see the merit of stepping back like he did in the 2011 Finals, for greater success down the road. But, as I've continually said, the overwhelming odds are he stays. And based on what we saw in the Heat's victory Wednesday in Cleveland, it's not as if the Cavaliers are looking like a team with an abundance of riches.
November 27, 2013
Q: We've already seen Udonis Haslem lose time after returning from his back spasms. So what happens when Greg Oden is ready to play, who loses minutes then? -- Sam.
A: The easy answer is that is a problem Erik Spoelstra would embrace. But the reality is being unable to spot Haslem back into the rotation has to be tough on Spoelstra. But if Oden does begin to eventually claim minutes, it will be even more difficult to find time for Udonis. And Chris Andersen has been playing as well recently as any time during his Heat tenure, save perhaps for last season's playoff run. I'm not sure Oden ever again plays more than spot minutes, so it could come down to shaving some time from Andersen, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis or Michael Beasley. But even with the Heat's ever-increasing rotation, it's still difficult to fathom Spoelstra going 10 deep in the playoffs.
Q: The Lakers just signed Kobe Bryant to a two-year extension at about $24 million per year. I guess it's safe for LeBron James to cross L.A. off his list? -- David.