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Standing Pat

When Pat Riley said after the Miami Heat’s January 8 loss to NBA-worst Minnesota that he might quit as coach to focus on his other job as team president, he felt compelled to add, “But that’s after this season. That’s not now.” The natural follow-up question from the press gallery could have been: “Coach, are you sure about that last part?” Because the Heat has been in such disarray – losing three times for each win – it’s no certainty that anyone is coaching at all. The roster is 15 characters in search of an author, a convalescent ward in snap-away pants.

The games are almost worth watching just to witness the phenomenon named Dwyane Wade, but it’s depressing to see a guy who can do anything have to do absolutely everything. Arguably the Heat is the dour surprise of the season; its photonegative is the Portland Trail Blazers, a collection of up-and-comers that arrives with a 13-game win streak, despite losing number one overall draft pick Greg Oden to the sort of knee injury common to giants. Verve! Chemistry! Dynamism! It wasn’t so long ago that those words described the Heat, though these days it feels longer. Squint your eyes and try to forget which jerseys are which at the American Airlines Arena tonight at 7. Tickets are as cheap as $10.
Fri., Jan. 18, 2008


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