We pay them to win the game
Maybe "We praise them to win the game" would have been better.
These Baby Bulls are tough. They remind me of the Grizzlies, if the Grizzlies' personnel were ten times better and were continually trying to prove/justify their upstart success. But even though they pretty much took the King out of the game (when you need LeBron to play like a Hall of Famer every night to be competitive, anything less than absolute dominance just ain't enough), James did manage to send it into OT with a defiantly casual three at the buzzer. Everyone knew it was coming, and LeBron's shooting numbers had a frustrated, Iverson-esque taint to them. Still, the Cavs hung around, until it was up to the mega-star to do the impossible.
You can talk to me about the importance of playing as a team, of a balanced attack, of buying into an all-for-one mentality. But the one catch is, you have far less margin for error. If the team is off, getting it going is a far more complicated, and delicate, matter than waiting for one guy to go off. And if the team has its identity down, it usually depends on everyone playing their role to the fullest, since the machine gets fouled up if one cog is loose. LeBron, though, buys you time. He can have an off night, and the team can pick up the slack until he gets it together and bails them out; LeBron can carry the team, and as long as the rest of the team puts in a serviceable effort (56, I know), they have a chance. The bottom line is, surround a star with decent role players and you've got some leeway. The chemistry is all a function of how the star's performing; depending on that, someone else will step up, and everything will fall into place around that. If done well, the team built around a star reconstitutes itself from quarter to quarter, responding to his individual game. I worry that teams like the Bulls and Grizz are a bunch of integrated parts, where one guy can only step up so much (due as much to strategy as ability--clearly Curry or Gordon could take over a game on and off for four quarters if given the chance). Because of that, disrupt their flow, catch someone on an off night, and your suddenly facing a team at a loss.
I wonder if this isn't the secret to beating the Pistons. Remember, they struggled last year when Billups was adjusting to Brown. They've had some problems without Rip. They may be the best TEAM out there, and may have semi-star power in Billups, Sheed, Rip, Big Ben. But they rely on sticking to their plan and functioning up a storm, which becomes tricky when you're missing your hard-and-fast components (what makes a TEAM great in the first place).
NOTE: For those of you that didn't catch the game, the Bulls ran away with it in OT.
Also, when will TNT admit the NBA is Black? I'm all for ultra-jockification through goofy song, but is "Dream On" really the best they can do when airing stylized snippets of the KG interview? There's not a melancholy seventies soul classic, or thug-reflective single, that they could have used to better effect? Seriously, it almost seems like racial pandering. Is there anyone who cares about that song who's not at a minor league baseball game tonight? Am I the only person who finds this borderline offensive? It's one of the proudest, most intimate moments of KG's public career (anyone's, even)--can't we at least get a song that might work well with his memory of it?