AL HAMNIK: Miami vise tightens on postseason hopes

2013-03-27T20:45:00Z 2013-03-29T00:13:06Z AL HAMNIK: Miami vise tightens on postseason hopesAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 27, 2013 8:45 pm  • 

CHICAGO | I took the bait. I feel so dumb.

For 45 minutes Wednesday night, during the Miami Heat's open locker room, I was among several national media watching the team trainer stretch, twist, bend and pull on LeBron James like a 250-pound piece of taffy.

On game day, James only talks to media during the team shootaround that morning and after the game.

But this wasn't just any game. Heavens, no.

King James and the Miami Heat, winners of 27 straight, were holding court in Chicago.

They were closing in on the longest win streak in pro sports – 33 consecutive victories – held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

There was a playoff atmosphere on this night with more than 200 media credentials issued for the Bulls-Heat game.

Did you hear me? I said more than 200 credentials – 10 times the demand for a regular game.

And so we stood around like a bunch of department store dummies, hoping to get a word or two from LeBron James while he lay on his stomach, on his side, on his back, all while stretching.

We watched LeBron texting like a mad man.

We watched LeBron rapping to the music on his headset, most of the words not fit for a family publication.

We watched LeBron reading email on his phone.

And when his routine had ended, LeBron disappeared into the training room for some extensive ankle taping

Minutes later, he reappeared and we then -- this is really embarrassing -- watched LeBron put on his Heat uniform, socks and $1,200 sneakers.

He smiled. He nodded our way. But he didn't speak.

That's where pro sports is at today, like it or not, and we don't.

During Miami's epic streak, LeBron had been the man, averaging 27 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game.

“That's one of those records you never thought would be broken,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before tip-off. “It's an incredible streak, a credit to their team.”

The streak began Feb. 3 and though 16 of Miami's 27 victims had losing records prior to the Bulls, you had to be impressed.

Is Miami the best team in the NBA?

“We'll see three or four months from now in the postseason,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Everything is very fragile in this league. Our future is not guaranteed.

"Tonight our focus is only on preparing for an absolute cage-fight mentality. The last three years, when these two teams come together, it's not going to be pretty."  

The Bulls again were without Joakim Noah (foot) and Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain), yet led 32-22 after one quarter and 55-46 at the half.

James already had 18 points.

There was some shouting and cajoling in Miami's locker room heard out in the hallway of the United Center.

It was No. 6, finally talking, and he had plenty to say to teammates.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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