With the conference finals well under way, I still find myself mulling over the choice of which of the 4 remaining teams I’d like to see win the title. The Spurs are an intriguing choice because of the way they tore the Clippers apart, and because they’re just fun to watch. The Thunder are a team of likeable young guys who are looking for the first title, which is always interesting. Finally, the Celtics are the exact opposite: a team of older dudes looking to eek out one more championship before being split up. Any of these teams would be a good choice. What to do, what to do…..
Wait, what’s that? There’s a 4th team? Surely, you don’t mean the Miami Heat, the most reviled team in the league. Oh, there’s no way I could pull for them!
Except for two things: Mike Miller and Shane Battier.
Two of the greatest players to ever put on a Grizzlies uniform. Two of the key components to the early to mid 00s Grizzlies teams. Before those teams came around, the Grizzlies had been perpetually trapped in the sewer of the NBA, never even approaching respectability. Miller and Battier played enormous roles on teams that won games, reached the playoffs, and told everyone in the NBA that the Memphis Grizzlies were not a laughingstock. Taking all of those things into consideration, it would be nice to see them get a ring, especially considering how late in their careers they both are.
Of course, while Miller and Battier were big parts of those teams, the leader was Pau Gasol. We’ve already seen him get two rings with the Lakers. I’m not sure how the 3SOB community feels about the Lakers, but I can’t stand them. I was happy for Pau when he got his two rings, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for the Magic in 2009 and the Celtics in 2010. His success made the proceedings slightly more bearable, but not enough actually pull for the Lakers.
Miller and Battier are different cases however. They aren’t star players anymore; they’re both past their prime and contribute strictly as role players. Additionally, they didn’t leave Memphis in one of the most controversial, highly questionable trades ever made. Yes, it worked out pretty well, with Marc Gasol becoming an All-Star, but no one knew that at the time, and it felt the Grizzlies had just been badly burned. It wasn’t like that for Miller or Battier – their time in Memphis was up, and they went elsewhere, without any effect on their fine Grizzlies careers.
They’re both likeable, hardworking guys, the type of players who you want to see win a ring, regardless of what team it’s with. I’m guessing there are plenty of Heat haters who read this site, as well as a few who don’t mind them and don’t see what the big deal is. To the former group, I’ll simply say this: if Lebron, Wade, and Bosh (assuming he gets healthy) end up hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in a few weeks, try not to think about The Decision, or The Welcome Party or any aggravating factor that may have made the Heat more loathsome in your mind. Just think about two of the most dedicated players to ever put on a Memphis Grizzlies’ uniform finally getting some glory. That wouldn’t be so bad, now would it?