For two full seasons, we’ve been told the best way to beat the Miami Heat is to out-rebound them. They’re one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, weak down low, critics would claim, lazily pulling up statistics that pale in reality to the far, more important number that resides in Miami’s win column. Monday night, however, we discovered an entirely different way to beat the defending champions: simply cart out your run-of-the-mill 5’9” guy and let him control the point guard position.
Of course, by no means is Nate Robinson your run-of-the-mill 5’9” guy… nor is he really 5’9” as the National Basketball Association would have you believe. Regardless of the league’s faulty tape measure, Nate is a three-time slam dunk champion, has literally jumped OVER Dwight Howard, recently scored 22 points in a single quarter that fell one short of Michael Jordan’s Bulls record and is currently the NBA’s spark-pluggiest player.
Nate Robinson is, without a doubt, the baddest, little man on the planet. A far too rusty and lackadaisical Miami Heat team was reminded of that in Game One.
“God blessed me with a lot of heart and no height, and I’ll take that any day,” Nate told us only minutes after he had upset Miami, his upper lip stitched up and swollen after LeBron had bloodied it. In his own larger-than-life way, Nate gave hope to the rest of us average-sized people as we struggle through our daily pursuits. Unlike Nate, however, most of us don’t get our face trampled by adversaries on a nightly basis.
Not only did he have his head literally stepped on by the 6’7” Gerald Wallace last Saturday, his lip was busted open after LeBron’s statuesque frame rolled over him, pushing his face down onto to the unforgiving, American Airlines Arena floor.
Nate was back in minutes, however, sewn up and ready to go, the antithesis of so many players we’ve seen limp off the floor this post-season not to return.
I wouldn’t say it’s time to panic in South Beach, unless you consider that a) Nate Robinson is once again due to play forty-plus minutes, b) he never, EVER gives up and c) his Bulls are the only team to beat LeBron’s Heat in the last three months… and they’ve done so twice. Chicago showed us that a solid frontcourt, combined with a quick and more importantly, streaky point guard spells trouble for Miami.
Every championship team has their Kryptonite. The Lakers had their Celtics (and vice versa), the Spurs had Derek Fisher and the Bulls had the Birmingham Barons. The Heat needs not Nate as their nemesis. Don’t think Erik Spoelstra isn’t figuring out ways to defend against him as we speak.
Don’t get me wrong. I still feel the Heat will win this series, and ultimately another NBA championship, as do most, but they better come up with some adjustments on the fly to defend against the dimi-Nate-ive assassin.
Nate Robinson’s injury-laden Bulls toppling Miami wouldn’t be David beating Goliath, but it’d run a pretty close second.