On the March 27 edition of ESPN’s KIA NBA Countdown, analysts Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons and Michael Wilbon provided insights on the Miami Heat’s chase toward NBA history and previewed the Heat-Bulls game at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Earlier today, ESPN announced plans to televise the Miami Heat at Charlotte Bobcats game on Friday, April 5, at 8 p.m. and the Heat’s potential record-tying game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m.
KIA NBA Countdown next airs Friday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN and via WatchESPN.
Bill Simmons on the stars aligning for Miami:
This has been one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, not just in basketball but in any sport. Part of the package here for them is they’re catching some breaks. It’s talent, it’s timing – but also, look at tonight. Joakim Noah’s not playing. You look at last week, Kevin Garnett’s not playing. They play the Knicks and Amare’s out of that game. Left and right, it just seems like the stars have aligned for this Miami team.
Jalen Rose on the Heat’s schedule:
Four of the next five games are on the road. Teams that don’t have big time crowds, nationally-televised games, they’re going to have them. New Orleans, they are going to be excited to play against the Miami Heat to break the streak, but I still think they at least keep it intact until Sunday.
Simmons on the Heat’s popularity on the road:
When the Heat play on the road, they actually have half the stands in the stadium at most of these games. I think there’s more energy in those road games for them than there is at home sometimes. I actually think it’s an advantage for them sometimes to play on the road.
Rose on the Heat playing like a team:
When they went to play against Orlando, they purposely tried to get Rashard Lewis going against his former team. When they go to Toronto, same for Chris Bosh. That makes everybody feel like they are just as important as their top player. And in Chicago, it’s Dwyane Wade’s turn.
Michael Wilbon on how LeBron’s success followed his NBA Championship:
You get rid of the burden. You get rid of the 900-pound gorilla on you when you win that championship. I compare this to other performances in different sports. Like Tiger Woods when he won that second major. I think it was in Chicago actually at Medina and then he went on that great run. You saw this with Muhammad Ali. This is the greatest streak in the history of pro sports in America. When you are the leader of a team that can approach this streak, you are talking about a player for history.
Simmons on how Spoelstra and the Heat have changed the game:
This is beyond small ball. This is a team now that’s playing five shooters. They’re reinvented how people post up. Now, LeBron and Wade are posting up. Usually you have big guys posting up. Chris Bosh is a jump shooter now. They’ve changed everything we thought we knew about basketball and it’s really happened during this streak.
Rose on LeBron’s evolution:
From high school to early in the NBA, LeBron James played more like a point forward. Facing the basket, he really didn’t have a back to the basket game. The evolution in his game – besides the jump shot and his ability to close – is that now he can post up. With his athleticism and with his size, he’s basically unstoppable.
Simmons on LeBron’s recent successes:
You could argue this is the greatest 15-month stretch that any basketball player’s had since Jordan because starting with that Indiana game and then you go all the way through to the title, the Olympics, everything that happened this year. You’re making history.
Rose on LeBron’s improved image:
NBA seasons happen like dog years. We forget what happened last week, last month, last year. But what he did in Boston. What he did at Indiana last year during the playoffs. What he did when his team was down. It brought public sentiment to instead of treating LeBron James like a villain who couldn’t get it done, now they treat him like an gold medalist. Now, they treat him like an NBA champion and it’s deserved.
Simmons reexamining past criticism of LeBron’s play:
As a child of the Jordan era, we’re so used to guys taking over, saying ‘I got this. Get out of my way.’ LeBron was always trying to make the right play and for better or worse, that’s how we judged him. Sometimes, he’d make a great pass, the guy would miss it and we’d point the finger at him. ‘You should have shot that.’ And I don’t know if that is totally fair.
Wilbon on unfair criticism of LeBron:
He didn’t need to be Michael Jordan. He was a hybrid of Michael, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. I always thought that. There’s a play that ruined the discussion on LeBron James for about four years – where he passes to Donyell Marshall in the corner. It’s the proper play. You can see Magic passing that ball to Byron Scott in the corner, right? Nobody would have faulted Magic if Byron Scott had missed the shot. But everybody faulted LeBron James because Donyell Marshall missed the shot and it became part of the discussion defining LeBron James unfairly in my mind for about four seasons.
Rose on LeBron using his teammates:
Michael Jordan didn’t win championships alone. He actually passed it to Steve Kerr when he was open for a jump shot. That’s what your best player does. That engages everyone else. LeBron James does that better than anyone in today’s game.