Heat of the Moment


LeBron James has always been a love him or hate him figure in the NBA. You either love him and appreciate his greatness and dominance in the game, or you hate how he ditched his hometown team in Cleveland to join his friends/fellow superstars in Miami in pursuit of the easy route to a championship. The Miami Heat recently had their 27-game winning streak snapped and this streak was no different than the perception of James himself ─ either cheered on or rooted against despite the greatness. As polarizing as LeBron and Heat streak is and was, you cannot deny the excellence and that we may never see something like this again.

Too many times we as fans are “prisoners of the moment,” and make an event or an athlete bigger than it actually is because it is so fresh in our minds. For example, compared to Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, especially during the turn of the century, stood as the best golfer ever because of his dominance, fire and determination to win. Most Tiger fans argued that he was already better than Nicklaus and that he will eventually win the most majors. However, we could not fully appreciate Jack’s greatness because it was a relatively distant memory and no one could have projected the struggles Tiger would endure in the past couple of years. In the case of the Miami Heat 27-game winning streak, there seems to be a reverse effect lingering here. We are under-appreciating what the Heat just accomplished.

What the Miami Heat did by winning 27 consecutive regular season games has only been achieved once, when the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won 33 consecutive games. And in that era there were only eight main teams in the league. All the superstars were piled onto fewer teams instead of being so spread out. The game was less evolved. Who knows what the Heat may have done back then or in the future. The bottom line is it is very possible that the Heat streak might never be done again. If we were told this as a fact, what would we then think?  Most of us, especially those who rooted for them to lose, would feel pretty stupid. As humans, we naturally appreciate something more once it’s gone and never coming back.

With the parity that exists in the NBA today, the Heat’s streak is a mind-boggling accomplishment, however it was not fully embraced due to the polarizing effect that LeBron James has had among NBA fans. In this sense, we were not and are not enough of “prisoners” of this moment.

Let us examine 27 games in a row in the NBA compared to other feats. To accomplish this at the highest level of competition cannot be understated. Maybe compared to high school and college winning streaks, it’s not as potent. However, let’s not forget that the Patriots had their 18-game winning streak snapped when they lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl in pursuit of a perfect season. 27 games represents one-third of the NBA regular season. Let me repeat. One-third! There are currently seven NBA teams entering April 9  that do not have more than 27 wins for the entire season and the season is virtually over. Congratulations to the Timberwolves, Raptors and Wizards. You avoided this embarrassing category with 29 wins for the season.

For the Heat, once they won 20 games, every game had the hype that is typically reserved for the playoffs. SportsCenter previewed every game as if it was a Final Four game. When has Dwyane Wade sitting out a home game against the Bobcats been such a big deal? For a mediocre NBA season in terms of storylines and great quality teams, the Heat streak has been the highlight of the 2012-2013 NBA season. It generated more attention and draw from basketball fans and non-basketball fans. It kept the defending champions interested and gave them an incentive to care about the regular season.
The streak ended fittingly on the road against the Bulls as the wind was taken out of the sails of the Heat. Many people were sad and upset because they wanted to witness history. Many people were happy because LeBron failed and did not get to notch another accomplishment under his belt. It would have been interesting to see the attention of a streak like this done by another NBA team. Maybe the Lakers or Thunder or even the Knicks would have received similar attention, but that’s it. The fact of the matter is that this streak was not glorified as much as it should have been because it involved LeBron James and the defending champion Heat. In a vacuum, however, this streak needs to be worshipped and praised for how amazing a feat it was. This streak may never be accomplished ever again in the NBA, maybe in any sport as well. The Heat streak may be over, but its legacy could last forever.

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Paul Culley
Sports Activist for The Cover 4

2 Weeks Later: Joe Flacco Still Isn’t Elite


Elite: A group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category, esp. because of their power, talent, or wealth.

It finally happened.  Joe Flacco brought his team to the ultimate goal of any man who has ever dreamed of playing in the National Football League.  After five “long” seasons, Mr. Flacco and company are world champions after knocking off the favored San Francisco 49ers and their hotshot gunslinger of the future, Colin Kaepernick.

So I guess that means that Flacco joins the ranks of the “elite” NFL quarterbacks, right?  I mean, he already owns the most road playoff wins for a quarterback ALL TIME in only his fifth season.  After all, he has won a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.  And he threw for an immaculate 11 touchdowns with ZERO turnovers in the playoffs.  So, he’s elite now, right?


First and foremost, do not mistake me saying that Flacco is not elite as saying that he is not one of the best young quarterbacks playing the game.  Wins speak for themselves and there is no denying that he is about to get paid the big bucks, possibly the biggest contract of all quarterbacks (keep an eye out Aaron Rodgers).  However, a look into the numbers is all one needs to see to know that the word elite might be a bit out of the reach of Flacco’s skill-set.

To begin with, this year and this postseason run were both incredible for Flacco.  But the numbers can be a bit deceiving.  Despite the beauty of his numbers, he still had a total QBR of less than 50, at 46.8 in the postseason.  That lends belief that while his mistakes were few, he was helped by big plays and the commitment of offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, not to mention the running game, where Ray Rice continued to be a workhorse and Bernard Pierce appeared to break out.

In fact, let’s talk quarterback numbers.  In the 2012 season, Flacco’s QB rating was a pedestrian 87.7, a number surpassed by 11 other quarterbacks, including Philip Rivers and Tony Romo, not to mention ROOKIES Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III.  This year was his highest yardage total of his career, but he still did not break the 4,000-yard mark, as he has yet to do in his career.  Thirteen other quarterbacks had more yards this year than Flacco.  Also, his 59.7 percent completion percentage was the second-worst in his NFL career. Eighteen quarterbacks had a better completion percentage..

Furthermore, Flacco was inspired just as the rest of the Ravens and the city of Baltimore were by Ray Lewis’ postseason push, deer antler spray or not.  Things happened to go the Ravens way.  Jacoby Jones was able to take advantage of a second-year mistake by Rahim Moore to grasp victory out of the jaws of defeat.  Bernard Pollard once again became a Patriot killer, this time, with Stevan Ridley his victim.  And while I agree with the call that was made, there is a very strong case to be made by 49er fans that there was some holding on their final offensive play of the Super Bowl.

Everyone catches breaks.  It’s not possible to go the distance in this competitive era without catching a few.  The Patriots were 18-0 until they faced the New York Giants and were victims of one of the greatest, albeit luckiest, catches in the history of the NFL.  Half of the football fans in the world would not have been able to tell me who David Tyree was before that game began and now his lucky break has given him football-god status.

Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens are no different.  They are champions, they played like champions and they deserve to be champions.  But this postseason run was about the Ravens, this was not about the rise of Flacco to elite status.  He is a very good quarterback on a very good team.  But to use the word elite is to compare him to modern-day greats Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, as well as historic greats like Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Steve Young and John Elway.

Just compare Flacco’s numbers to the stats of Brady, Brees and Manning. Those three have
career passer ratings of 96.6, 94.3 and 95.7 respectively. Flacco’s career passer rating is a
more average 86.3. Over the past seven seasons Brees has averaged 4,796 passing yards per
season, and Brady and Manning aren’t too shabby either with career season yardage numbers
of 4,066 and 4,250 (based on full seasons played). Flacco’s season average for yards is 3,500
on a team that has made the playoffs in each of his five seasons.

Numbers aside, Flacco also has never made the “esteemed” NFL Pro Bowl. Brees, Manning
and Brady have combined for 27 Pro Bowls in their illustrious careers. Those three have also
combined for 11 All-Pro selections, another accolade that has so far eluded the new champion

Flacco is about to be a very, very, very rich man.  There is no denying that.  And he deserves to be paid; likewise, the Ravens can ill-afford to be rid of their star quarterback who just led them on one of the most impressive postseason runs in NFL history, knocking off two number 2 seeds and a number 1 seed in the process.  But that is all he will be.  A good, maybe even great, rich quarterback.  Not an elite one.  He needs more championships and a steady stat line before he can be elite.  After all, if Eli Manning, who has two Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVPs cannot be considered elite, why should Delaware’s treasure be any different?

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Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.34.53 PMSammy Scherr
Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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