The way you might feel to hear a millionaire had just won the Powerball lottery is the way other NBA teams should feel if the Heat manages to sign a healthy Greg Oden. In life, they say the rich get richer. In sports, sometimes the best get better.
That hardly seems fair.
Unless its your life, of course.
Or your team.
The Heats consecutive championships validate the Miami idea of positionless basketball because success is sports ultimate argument-ender. It sets everything right. Who needs a true center? Analysts such as Charles Barkley spent all season insisting Miami couldnt rebound and played too small, and this teams unsubtle reply was to raise a finger to the critics no, I mean the one with the championship ring on it and to throw itself another parade.
A slice of club architect Pat Rileys genius, though, is to be standing in the midst of the spray of champagne and fall of confetti and still be able to think, We arent good enough. How can we get better?
So one year ago, he added to his champions Ray Allen, only the best three-point shooter ever.
Now he wants to add Oden, because Riley knows a true center still has a place, even here. Didnt Indiana and then San Antonio in the NBA playoffs both push Miami to seven games last season largely because of low-post presence and bigger frontcourts?
Interest in Oden and choosing to re-sign Chris Birdman Andersen instead of Mike Miller both are indications of an interest in getting bigger.
Remember, too: Riley forged his Hall of Fame path back when the center was a teams figurative as well as literal hub. He coached Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then Patrick Ewing, then Alonzo Mourning. Even on a team dominated by the one-of-a-kind LeBron James, every molecule of Rileys basketball DNA must be enticed by possibly adding by adding the possibility of the 7-foot Oden.
I know that the risk is there, and that the jokes are easy, and understandable.
One making the rounds: If ESPNs LeBron announcement show was called The Decision, Odens should be dubbed The Incision because of all of his knee surgeries.
And this much is true: Portland selecting Oden one spot ahead of Kevin Durant in the 2007 NBA Draft looks right now like maybe the single worst NBA draft decision since the same Trail Blazers chose Sam Bowie one ahead of Michael Jordan in 1984.
Skepticism naturally dogs a player who last appeared in an NBA game in December 2009, and whose most recent of three microfracture knee surgeries was in February 2012.
The interest of Miami and other teams is valid, though. Very. Youth, size and talent remain a rare gem of a combination. For the same reason, Cleveland made a smart gamble in signing Andrew Bynum.
Miami and San Antonio, said to be the front-runners, eagerly await Odens decision, expected next week.
New Orleans also is thought to be a contender among a half dozen or so interested teams, assuming Oden does not eliminate that team for its ridiculous Pelicans nickname alone. New Orleans is trying to sell Oden on the idea he can better resume his career quietly and without pressure there, out of the media spotlight.
Id prefer Miamis selling point if I were Oden. Were back-to-back reigning champions. You can take your time here. Come back on your own clock. And when youre ready, we think youll enjoy playing with LeBron, Dwyane Wade and the rest of your new friends.