Undercover Bosses

The Heat could've been so beautiful. Instead, they're a team for their time.
Share |

The present moment, with protestors in the streets and people out of work, seems like a strange time for a concerted and proudly aggrieved rich person's rights campaign. That said, it's tough to imagine any moment, public or maybe even private, in which anyone besides other very powerful people would want to spend time pondering how difficult it is to be rich and powerful. And yet here we are, all of us, in that moment and being dunked, over and over again, into that lukewarm ponderful pity-pool by the richest people in our culture; people who, it turns out, are both our most coddled and most aggrieved. It is of course easier for a rich person who feels attacked—because President Obama said "fat cat bankers" twice three years ago; because the bad guy in Jason Segel's Muppets reboot was a swaggy oilman; because on principle you shouldn't have to apologize for achievement in America—to get a hearing for his beef than it is for a poor person who resents being portrayed as a "taker" or a deadbeat or an avatar/victim of The Toxic Entitlement Culture. But it is easy for most of us to recognize what we're dealing with when presented with a weepy moneybags expressing his (and no gender-pronouno, I do mean "his") concern about the Decline Of Civility and the Disturbing Class War Rhetoric being used to describe those who relentlessly and publicly leverage their wealth and influence to protect and enhance their wealth and influence.

What we are dealing with, if you're feeling generous, is someone so distant from the world as it exists as to believe that a rich person's right to feel uniquely comfortable and valued is 1) a thing and 2) an issue that belongs on the discursive docket. Or, if you are feeling even more generous, we are perhaps dealing with someone who can't hear what he's saying because he grew up in a culture that moralizes success (that is, wealth) in the silliest and most glib way, reverse-engineering valor out of wealth, no matter whence or how that wealth came to be. If you are not feeling generous at all, the recognition is blunt, instant and sure: you, we, are dealing in that case with an asshole, a vainglory case who has mistaken his 150,000-thread-count blinders for super-powered spectacles. We all quite reasonably aspire to comfort and security and maybe a cabin on a lake somewhere quiet, and we should; we work hard in that pursuit, and we should. But who aspires to be this person—this prickly, entitled, self-enamored swell, so secure and yet so heroically insecure, forever puffing up over how self-made he is and constantly on rabbit-eared guard against anyone who would so much as suggest otherwise. Who would want, in other words, to be the human version of the Miami Heat?

Paradoxically oblivious self-regard is of course not limited to very wealthy or successful people. The NBA has its share of mopey, conflicted Drake types—which sometimes is ridiculous, but feels a bit more interesting than the cop-ish flat affect of baseball or the brutal but oddly pompous bumpkinry of football. But the Heat are not that, and not just because Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are older and better than your neurotic, thwarted JaVale McGees or Andrew Bynums. They are older and better, but they also reside much further up the food chain. More to the point, they're just bigger—the relationship between the true hoops elite on the Heat and the neurotic goofiness of (say) the Nuggets is roughly that between the Rockefellers and Soulja Boy's Stacks On Deck Money Gang. That is, it exists in the same corner of the same universe, but is so remote as virtually not to be a relationship at all.

The struggle for the Heat during their brief, grumpy non-dynasty has been how to wear that elite status. As a basketball team, the Heat are awfully good, even with almost every non-Eddy Curry member of the frontcourt injured or suspended. They are dazzling at their best, with LeBron at his most implacable and telepathic and unconscious and Dwyane Wade making those thunderous, intricate moves to the rim. And even when they win at the foul line as they did on Wednesday night, in a dull display of their influence and efficiency, there's an impressive element of inevitability to it. But as the more-than-a-team thing they clearly aspired to be—that "not three, not four, not five" thing, the for-us-by-us super-entity—they fall dishearteningly short. Where they should be great, they are small; where they should be transcendent, they're as mundane as an issue of Forbes. And where they could have ushered in a new era—remember the way in which The Decision's sudden inversion of the traditional owner-player power dynamic raised the stakes in the lockout; remember how thoroughly and shitlessly scared those tinhorn owner's suite aristos were in its wake—they have instead exemplified the petty, inward vanity of this one. They could've been beautiful. Instead they are, for better but mostly for worse, the most perfectly, poignantly representative sports-heels of their era.


That the Heat are very often no fun to watch is a bummer in some ways, but also inevitable insofar as it was never realistic for them to win games simply by scoring 133 points every night. Sometimes they win with the awe-inspiring stuff—the raw power that is having James and Wade and Chris Bosh playing at the same time—and sometimes they win with determination and defense (which can be awe-inspiring in its own right), and sometimes they get to play the Nets or something and win just because LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade is on the floor. They also lose on occasion. But never, in any of these scenarios, do the Heat seem to be having much fun, or transcending anything in particular. Which is fine as far as it goes, since this game is their work. It isn't, and shouldn't be, their obligation to transcend anything, at least to the extent that it conflicts with winning as many basketball games as possible, which is more strictly their job. But it's tough, in watching them struggle with themselves against various inferior non-peers in the Eastern Conference, not to think of what might have or could have or should have been.

Because of our culture's complicated—or over-simple, but at any rate fraught—relationship with wealth, it's not just strange but even a little sad to think of wealth as not liberating, but limiting and actively un-fun. At some level—Kanye fuming on Twitter over a poorly fitted monkeyfur jumpsuit he got in Monaco or whatever; the aforementioned butthurt bankers and their aforementioned bitching—that is obviously a textbook cry-me-a-river thing. That applies where the Heat are concerned, to a certain extent. But however tasteless we might have found the ways in which the Big Three—or at least James and Wade; Bosh has always been the least and most loopily likable of them—courted and invited their current antiheroic status, there was also a heady promise to the way they made their team. They wanted to collaborate, and made it so they would. They wanted to play and win together, and figured out a way to do it. It was not, as the contemporary moral philosopher Dan Gilbert had it, that LeBron's decision was selfish; it was calculated and self-serving, but also and in that way very much playing by the rules of Gilbert's super-class. Forty-odd years after Curt Flood, this was maybe a political apotheosis of some sort—the freest free agency yet—and definitely a thing for basketball heads to look forward to: great talents setting themselves to the task of getting great together. It is very easy to forget about this, for the very obvious reason that the Heat have shrunk, rather than grown, during their time together.

The wealth fetishism of the last, low, dishonest decade was grounded in the weird moralism of markets—not just economic might making right, but might inferring and conferring right; the suggestion that whatever was must have been right, because markets are perfect and pick winners perfectly. But it was also, for all its faith in the broader system, the decade that led to the disastrous aesthetics and optics of The Decision—not the decision itself but the pomposity of its expression, the corny pomp that followed, the instant aggrievement at not being Greeted As Liberators in the wake of all that hilarious bullshit—was also about stars. All those CEOs, ebullient and grinning in their shirtsleeves on various magazine covers; all those Fast Company coverboys (LeBron was one himself in 2010) who were bravely, giddily changing your world and Making The Future—these were The New New Moguls, the pioneer heroes of capital and authors of the world to come. All these brave minds, blithely surfing towards a jagged reef: this was who and what LeBron and Wade sought to be. The Heat would of necessity be a collaboration, but it would also be a tribute not just to their unassailable skill as basketball players but to their big-thinking boldness. All the things that could have been with those great players coming together, and they wound up with fucking DreamWorks.

The problem with all this, with the Heat and in general, is that the fundamental vanity of it functions as a hulking, ridiculous Swarovski-showroom glass jaw. Stars are stars, and easy to photograph and put on the cover of a magazine, but systems win and endure. The Heat have an astonishing amount of talent on the floor, even with Chris Bosh on the bench, but the Thunder have a unique (if not yet fully earned) level of self-belief that the Heat don't, and the Spurs appear to be playing with either six or seven players on offense when they're working right. This isn't about coaching or personnel—or only about one or the other, or either or both—so much as it is an affirmation that the game works best when played modestly and positively within a moderated, mediated framework. This is not to say that a paradigm can't get smashed that way: the ultra-polite Spurs do this with every clockwork win, done with the same personnel they used to dominate in the opposite way a decade ago, but at a 180-degree turn. But the Heat, a team of young CEO's mouthing band-of-brothers homilies they've never believed—or never believed as much as they believed that being more talented would somehow lead to being both the best and best-loved—can't do that, or be that. They are still struggling with and within the star system; the stars play much of the time at a great distance from each other, and all of the time at an even greater remove from their teammates.

They were built both in the spirit and during the waning days of an old and viciously wrongheaded triumphalism—the idea that the way progress happens is solely through the bravery and ruthlessness and brilliance of The One Brave Man, who will change the world for the rest of us if only we have the decency to get the hell out of the way. There's something almost inspiring, then, in the way that the Heat have failed to achieve as much, and have instead devolved into whinging ref-working and carping pettiness and grandiose sophistry and self-obsessed neurosis and the other piteous afflictions of the Job Creator class. LeBron James, the greatest talent of his and arguably any generation, plays so many of his minutes with the inward, anxious mania of Howard Hughes weighing a bowel movement and entering the number in a thick ledger. This is sort of a pity, but it's also black comedy the rest of us can believe in.

There are many—a small-minded and extravagantly monied many and an aspiring mass chasing them—who still believe in the old model and vision of success that gave us both this Heat team and Goldman's alpha a-holes. That being the idea that systems and communities and most people/things exist solely to thwart and slow and hinder the change-makers and job-creators and game-winners who would and should achieve and conquer, and that loosing the winners to win would give those deserving a not-one-not-two-but-a-thousand-year dynasty. This, in basketball as everywhere else, is a cruelish but moreover a silly and wrong thing to believe. A more modest and unified Heat could be beautiful; we should hope that they someday are, because that would be great. This one, conceived in the most grandiose smallness, is not great. They're villains, but not in the happy sorry-haters mode they envisioned; in their prickly bigness they're pitiable and loathsome at once, emblematic of all the self-important vanities and self-important vanity cases that have choked the nation's front pages and so much else over the last decade and more.

It would be sweet, symbolically, to see the Heat picked apart by the heroically humble Spurs, or guillotined as decadent aristocrats by the legitimately insurgent Thunder, or even taught a lesson by the Celtics' peevish sages, although Wednesday's outcome did a lot to diminish those chances. But it would be sweeter, still, to see the Heat figure out, together, how to become something bigger and better than the self-certain success-machine they presumed themselves to be in the summer of The Decision. But it may be some time before we get to see that. No lie so appealing, so flattering and simple, as the one that birthed and still defines this Heat team can die easy. But nothing so transparently false and small can live all that long, either.

Illustration by Rachel B. Glaser.

Share |


Truly, this article is really one of the very best in the history of articles. I am a antique ’Article’ collector and I sometimes read some new articles if I find them interesting. And I found this one pretty fascinating and it should go into my collection. Very good work! eyelet curtains

I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. seo

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.kettlebell workout

Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.central florida airboat tours

It's time to lose some of it and play some beautiful (and maybe less awe-ing) basketball. I like to think I could support that, or at least enjoy watching it. We haven't really gotten to experience it yet, though. web designers

get followers instagram The best article I came across a number of years, write something about it on this page. instagram likes

s, after all. There's no way of knowing if Tyson and his teammates were actually behaving as if they would if everything, the entire routine of dressing and engaging in idle banter with reporter and non-reporter alike, was actu....backlinks service

an employee at the bar where it happened naively asked me not to write about it. They didn’t need to worry about me..

LIC wrote about inequity aversion awhile back and i am reminded of it every time i watch the heat play. not only do they embrace the gluttonous, they celebrate it and the inequity that comes along with it. heater repair

FD contributor Dr. LIC wrote about inequity aversion awhile back and i am reminded of it every time i watch the heat play. not only do they embrace the gluttonous, they celebrate it and the inequity that comes along with it. more hints

FD contributor Dr. LIC wrote about inequity aversion awhile back and i am reminded of it every time i watch the heat play. not only do they embrace the gluttonous, they celebrate it and the inequity that comes along with it. hemp paper

The web site is lovingly serviced and saved as much as date. So it should be, thanks for sharing this with us. Satılık müzik seti kablosu

Incredible posting this is from you. I am really and truly thrilled to read this marvelous post. You've really impressed me today. I hope you'll continue to do so! Satılık müzik seti kablosu

This is very good comment you shared.Thank you so much that for you shared those things with us.I am wishing you to carry on with your achievement.All the best. more hints

We keep up with the latest techniques of building and have qualified tradesmen to ensure that your job/project is carried out safely. We also make sure that we keep to the highest standards on projects and everyone who works for us is health & safety trained. emlak bayiliği

If you believe in taking the moral high ground, but tend to do the wrong thing, you don't have moral character. find out more

I really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors for this blog. I will bookmark your blog and have my friends check up here often. tongkat ali testimonials

I was in Florence last year and have to chime in: the Firenze is only a good option IF you want to spend all of your time museum hopping. work in perth

I was in Florence last year and have florists to chime in: the Firenze is only a good option IF you want to spend all of your time museum hopping.

I was in Florence last year and have to chime in: the Firenze is only a good option IF you want to spend all of your time museum hopping. vaffordable pest control

I was in Florence last year and have to chime in: the Firenze is only a good option IF you want to spend all of your time museum hopping. The beauty of Florence lies outside of the museums solar roof

I was in Florence last year and have to chime in: the Firenze is only a good option IF you want to spend all of your time museum hopping. The beauty of Florence lies outside of the museums. where can i buy the selfie stick

I was in Florence last year and have to chime in: the Firenze is only a good option IF you want to spend all of your time museum hopping. The beauty of Florence lies outside of the museums. email marketing delivery

Firenze is only a good option IF you want to spend all of your time museum hopping.Loft conversions Cambridge

I think you are looking really for Legit Long term Online Business Opportunity...
If yes You are reading the right post
There is a Revshare program called DigitalAdsPay
They are launched on 17March and from lauch
they are giving steady Earnings And I am sure that they will give them in
future too... Owners of them are on facebook You can connect to them too
They are offering 125% of each investment And with each pack you get
I know you that in online business Many revshare programs come and they go
By wasting our money !
They also Run some fun exciting contests on there facebook group That are
simply awesome ...easy money
You can easily earn A Residual Online Income from this
The main thing is to keep building your account !
And The main thing of this program is that they are having good members
COMEON This can change your life

I potency hardly experience discovered a categorical scene however I am thankful for the paces on unlike advises that I can share to parochial dispirited the kitty of imaginable journalists to wear. read full article

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. internet marketing

Sup – awesome web page, only just shopping around a lot of blog, sounds an exceedingly excellent principle you can be choosing. I’m already choosing WordPress just the summer about great blog still interested to transformation at least one to the site a fabulous principle like your site in the form of free trial dash. Just about anything defined believe urge relating to this?

Greetings I noticed your webblog in error to look at is checking search engines designed for this acne situation, As i must say your webblog is certainly effective As i moreover take pleasure in the design and style, the nation's astonishing!. As i don’t enjoy the precious time at this moment to completely browse ones own site but May possibly bookmarked it and moreover combine ones own FEED enters. We are once again within 24 hours and a few. bless you for one very good blog.
Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney

I must assert, I just concept it was an attractive significant read through when considering this unique content. Cherished typically the information...

I love seeing snare spots which assimilate the cost of delivering the astounding serviceable stopgap unrestrained of custody. I really adored lesson your posting. Bless you electronic cigarette

Merchant Accounts Should there be more eloquent notify you can use following schedule, I'*be surely waiting for it. Should there be additional convincing enter you can use following day, I'*be surely waiting for it.

Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! Simply put your blog post to my favorite blog list and will look forward for additional updates.online betting

This site is excellent and so is how more the subject matter was explained. I also like some of the comments too. Waiting for next post.

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting Smile I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this!Safe Work Method Statement Template Free

matka I just got to this dazzling location negative ache since. I was really captured among the slice of expedients you receive got here. Major pointers up for making such astounding blog messenger!

I just got to this incredible scene hardly ache past. I was really captured beside the percentage of stopgaps you retain got here. Gross pointers up for making such incredible blog servant! matka

I just got to this astounding place nay ache back. I was really captured accompanying the assemble of expedients you experience got here. Mature pointers up for making such fabulous blog attendant! matka

I was just browsing through the internet looking for some information and came across your blog. I am impressed by the information that you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject. Bookmarked this page, will come back for more.andrika athlitika

Once I thought about things like: why such information is for free here? Because when you write a book then at least on selling a book you get a percentage. Thank you and good luck on informing people more about it…Buy phentermine online

Il est destinée à faciliter la localisation et réservation d’un taxi se trouvant dans une même zone que le client qui parfois a du mal à le localiser alors qu’il se trouve à moins d’un bloc de sa position. Taxi Sidi bel abbes

Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites! Thanks for sharing. Great websites! παπουτσια προσφορεσ

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article. northpark residences yishun

While I find it impossible to root for Miami, I'm often dumbfounded by their dominance. Watching Game 1 with a table full of Celtics fans/Heat haters, the most common reaction as Miami closed out Boston was a series of slack-jawed "Wows." But until they sign some useful role players instead of mercenaries and hangers-on, they'll have a hard time winning any championships. The Thunder would provide an exciting match up; the Spurs could destroy them.

Do the fullcourt alley-oops and splitsecond fast breaks and semi-heroic defensive stands not count as transcendent?

Something about seeing Lebron laughing in KG's face at the end of Game 1 convinced me that he actually was, finally, having some fun out there. He looks more comfortable than ever.

Though, I agree, the simultaneous ascendancy of James and Wade isn't making us rethink basketball. But to say it's not fun to watch is mystifying. It's fun enough just watching Lebron play D.

to me, the *momentary* transcendence of a full-court alleyoop is what this piece was about. while i can't dismiss a play like that as a basketball fan (the first one last year left me speechless), it only leaves me with a lot of what-ifs in relation to my deeply rooted feelings about this team.

i can't get over why i am utterly unable to enjoy what should be beautiful basketball. there's a watch the throne-esque gluttony about this team that i may never get over and that troubles me. the lack of self-awareness extends from the infamous pep rally to every preen and pose struck on the floor. the laugh at kg becomes less unbridled enthusiasm and more like the calculated legacy making "XVI" of bron's mouth guard. even genuine, spontaneous moments become sullied by association.

Sorry to be so slow in responding to these (very good) comments; I was in transit all day. BUT this is exactly it: they are dazzling to watch, without being fun; all light, no heat. But mostly the word "gluttony" is exactly it. My biases are clear, obviously, but I think LeBron and them have done plenty well getting in touch with their swagger. It's time to lose some of it and play some beautiful (and maybe less awe-ing) basketball. I like to think I could support that, or at least enjoy watching it. We haven't really gotten to experience it yet, though.

classical friend and FD contributor Dr. LIC wrote about inequity aversion awhile back and i am reminded of it every time i watch the heat play. not only do they embrace the gluttonous, they celebrate it and the inequity that comes along with it.