I’m back home in Florida, relaxing for most of November before heading back out for more tournaments in December. Now that the NBA season is underway, I’m taking advantage of the time off to watch some hoops, including following how my Miami Heat are going to do without LeBron James this year.
I actually just took a trip up to Charlotte, North Carolina to watch the Heat play the Hornets a few days ago. A friend of mine has courtside tickets and invited me to come up because he knows how big of a Heat fan I am. I’ve wanted to sit courtside for a Heat game for quite some time so was really excited to experience it for the first time. We sat right next to the Hornets bench, so hearing the interaction between the players and the coaches was pretty awesome. It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done and I can’t wait to do it again.
I think a lot of people are writing off the Heat this year now that LeBron has left. People seem to have forgotten they did win one championship before LeBron ever got here with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal (back in 2006). Wade is still a great player, and with Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, and the others they will definitely be a solid team and maybe even one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
You can already tell here at the very start of the season how different everything is as far as expectations are concerned. I think the Heat are something like 50-to-1 to win the championship, which is obviously much different than the last four years when they were essentially the favorite to win it all at the start of the year every time.
It feels like a lot of people here in the Miami area are convinced the Heat don’t have much of a chance — at least that’s what I’m hearing — but I think they are going to surprise some people and win a lot more games than people expect.
It’s very different entering a season without the expectation that you’re going to win every game you play and a championship at the end. When I played high school basketball and also when I coached, our teams were never expected to dominate the leagues in which we played. The last year that I coached — the one year I coached the varsity — we ended up winning Districts despite going into the playoffs as the third-ranked team out of six. I used the “we have nothing to lose” mentality to motivate my team to give their all.
When you don’t have the pressure on you to win all the time, that kind of takes away part of the stress that might be involved with competing. I think this concept translates to poker as well. Having that pressure to always win can definitely make you play worse. I think the best poker players are the ones that are not worried about the money. They are able to separate themselves and play “relatively” stress free.