Conventional wisdom says Miami relies on its three big stars while Chicago depends on the entire squad. But is it true?
The heavyweight match-up between the Chicago Bulls and Miami in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals has many compelling storylines. This year's Most Valuable Player (Chicago point guard Derrick Rose) plays against the 2009 and 2010 winner (Miami forward and notorious Decision-maker LeBron James). The two best defenses in the league this year square off. Pat Riley's hair continues to fascinate. And so on.
But no meme dominated the conversation more than assertion that Chicago played team basketball of the 1960s Boston Celtics variety, while Miami relies on three uber-talented individuals who alternate hogging the ball while the rest of the team stands around and watches. The argument that the Heat depends on individual talents while the Bulls are a cohesive unit has been made so many times it's basically been accepted as fact.
Then last week, ESPN's J.A. Adande started a story on the exploits of the Heat's role players with: "The biggest misconception in the NBA is that the Miami Heat aren't a team, that they're strictly three big names and a bunch of empty jerseys." Adande argued that while most of the Heat's scoring comes from James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, a host of role players have provided critical defense and rebounding and have occasionally had big offensive games of their own.