Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Former KU basketball star Mario Chalmers answer for Miami Heat


So much drama in South Beach these days. So much angst. Such soul searching for a solution to getting the mix of superstars on the Miami Heat to blend into a title-worthy contender.

And such a simple solution to the late-game woes of the Miami Heat, but this being the star-system-wedded NBA, nobody mentions it as an option. More on the easy fix later, but first, an examination of what has been going on since LeBron James announced last summer he would “take my talents to South Beach.”

Miami’s losing streak reached four Sunday at home against the Chicago Bulls, 87-86. Naturally, the final play was called for James. With the Heat trailing by one, LeBron had the ball at the top of the key. He drove to the basket, put up a lefty hook shot way too hard off the glass and didn’t get the desired superstar whistle. Dwyane Wade rebounded it and before the clock expired missed a shot from the right corner.

ESPN SportsCenter, during its non-stop coverage of the cold Heat, flashed a graphic that showed James is 1-for-7 on game-winning shots, Wade 0-for-5, Chris Bosh 0-for-1. In Sunday’s loss, James missed his last four shots, two of them three-pointers.

Coach Erik Spoelstra revealed afterward that there were tears in the locker room, inspiring a name for the soap opera: “Crygate.” If Spoelstra shared that to prove his players care, he insulted two of the best basketball players on the planet. Of course James and Wade care about winning. It’s Spoelstra who can fix this mess, but it’s going to take the guts to forget the names involved and coach to the situation the next time he diagrams a game-deciding play.

Three of Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships came on game-winning shots, one by John Paxson, one by Steve Kerr, one by Jordan. All three cigars tasted equally sweet to Jordan. When Kansas needed a big shot to ice Saturday’s Missouri game, Self drew up a play for Tyrel Reed. Marcus and Markieff Morris, the team’s best players, enjoyed it just as much as if they had hit it. Marcus set the screen that freed Reed.

Spoelstra needs to start drawing up plays for a guy with a rich history of hitting clutch shots. Long before Mario Chalmers hit the three that sent the 2008 title game into overtime, Chalmers had cemented his big-shot mettle. When James drove Sunday, Chalmers stood alone in the left corner, waiting to catch a pass that never came.

Naturally, James, Wade and Bosh always draw more of the defense’s attention, leaving Chalmers open. He shoots .360 from three, James .336, Wade .310, Bosh .273. Chalmers’ considerable confidence grows if the game’s best players feed him shots.

Playing for Miami suits Chalmers’ skills ideally, but only if they choose to use those talents. If Spoelstra doesn’t have the stomach to take the ball out of James’ hands at the end, surely Pat Riley is up to the challenge.


JayhawkRock 9 years, 3 months ago

Yeah I agree with a lot of this article. I was talking the other day to a couple Jayhawk fans that know the NBA and I told them that Chalmers is open every single time James or Wade drives to the basket but they almost never kick it out to him.

The other point I would make is that the Heat needed a couple buckets in the clutch in the 4th quarter and Chalmers hit a three and then drove by his man for a layup. Why would they stop feeding the hot hand? If LBJ wants to win a title he needs to check his ego and start being a team player.

You see the difference between the Celtics and the Heat is that Doc Rivers draws up plays for his team in the clutch. They have at least 4 viable options late in games and Rivers has plays for each one of them. Rivers is a great in game coach and he knows his team. It's not always going to be Pierce taking the last shot because Ray Allen and KG are just as good in the closing minutes. Spoelstra needs to start drawing up plays at the end of games instead of just telling LBJ to drive and hope for the best because the defense knows whats going to happen and they know the LBJ is selfish and he wont kick the ball.

addlime 9 years, 3 months ago

YESSSSS!!! Chalmers was clutch in this game. I'm suprised it wasn't mentioned in the article. He hit what would have been the game winner with that driving layup. Only problem was a defensive mismatch that led to a foul on the other end. So the Bulls won on free throws.

actorman 9 years, 3 months ago

I think this is one of Keegan's best columns and it really hits the nail on the head. After Mario hit THE SHOT, I talked to a few people out here (in the S.F. Bay Area) who liked college basketball but didn't follow it that closely, and none of them had heard of Mario before. But of course no KU fan was surprised that it was Mario who hit the big shot; we'd all seen him do it many times before.

Unfortunately, given the NBA power structure, it's unlikely that Mario will ever get the chance to show what he can really do in the clutch. But it would be great to see if he could do it in the NBA as well as he did at KU.

kcglowboy 9 years, 3 months ago

Ditto on all counts. Great column ... which demonstrates several of the myriad reasons why I could care less about the NBA, and why an NBA team would never work in KC. People around this region love the game, and appreciate good TEAM basketball. On those rare occasions when a local team had a superstar (Beasley, Durant), they still played team ball and cared about winning. I recall both players showing great passion when their teammates hogged some of the spotlight by having a great game.

For years the NBA's brand has been built around a few players much more so than around teams. The recent trend of superstars bailing on their small-market teams only reinforces that the NBA is fast becoming MLB, and that fans of 75 percent of the teams can forget about ever having another championship-caliber team ... or players they love sticking around for long.

khekhen 9 years, 3 months ago

you're crazy!! james got the last shot because they were down 2 and he can create enough offense to make sure that his shot will be a high percentage one. unfortunately, he failed that particular time. passing the shot to mario, no matter how open he was at the time, decreases their shot at a made field goal.

mario's not an NBA point guard, he's successfully proving that every year: too slow, not enough handles, too small and really low passing acumen. even with the 3 best players on the planet around, he cant figure out a way to pass them the ball without turning it over. i'm rooting for you mario but i dont want you taking the last shot; neither do spo, riley, wade and especially james.

KU_FanSince75 9 years, 3 months ago

Hey, Solomon----be my coach. Pretty damn logical that James and Wade need to take a hint and pass to the guy who is a 36% shooter and is wide open. Then, again, I don't watch the NBA that much. But seriously, it doesn't take a genius to figure it out.

jayhawkdude46542 9 years, 3 months ago

From Yahoo! Sports: "James is 1 for 8 in those situations. Wade is 0 for 3, as is Mike Miller. Eddie House and Mario Chalmers are 0 for 2. Bosh is 0 for 1."

Maybe the bigger question is "how does a team as talented as Miami put themselves in a position to need a game winning shot 19 times in 62 games?

Kye Clark 9 years, 3 months ago

"unfortunately, he failed that particular time."

That particular time, as well as 5 other times. 1-7 is not a "high percentage". It should also be pointed out that the one time James made a basket in the closing seconds it was to tie the game, a game they ended up losing in overtime.

The article is spot on in pointing out how Jordan was not always the best option and instead was more than willing to cede to less talented players capable of hitting big time shots. Another example would be Robert Horry. He was never one of the top 3 players on his team, but "Big Shot" Horry could deliver in the clutch.

As has been pointed out, this isn't about being a point guard. You don't have to be a point guard to hit an open shot. You are right about one thing. Spolestra, Riley, Wade, & James don't want him taking the last shot. They are all either too arrogant, ignorant, or selfish, and would rather draw up/take a low percentage shot than share the spotlight. Oh well, you know Mario wasn't one of the clowns crying in the locker room.

CaramelMacchMan 9 years, 3 months ago

I really think if that ball came to Mario on the wing from LeBron, something tells he really would have hit that shot.

Everyone wants to hit game winning shots.. specially LeBron. (Jordan wannabe)

If it was Kobe, he would have passed it to someone. I have seen him dish last seconds shots to Fisher.

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 3 months ago

I couldn't disagree more...the NBA is FAR worse than what you describe!!!

MDHawk 9 years, 3 months ago

I agree...the only thing about the NBA worth watching is to check up on former Jayhawks, and see how much facial hair they've grown.

kcglowboy 9 years, 3 months ago

... and to see the latest Sheen-esque antic pulled by Mark Cuban.

Jared Grillot 9 years, 3 months ago

You mean Pierce didn't have that 'stache when he was in Lawrence? No way. Oh, wait...

KGphoto 9 years, 3 months ago

see also: NFL, MLB

So I guess we're stuck with NCAA, and CBS... great.

Hank Cross 9 years, 3 months ago

Yes Game 7 of Lakers-Celtics last year was such a snooze. In terms of talent, skill, and level of play, the NBA is far surperior to college BB. What makes college BB and FB special is the passion of the fans and the sudden death BB tourney and that college FB teams usually have to go undefeated to get a shot at the BCS title.

The NBA suffers from the same problems that plague all major leauge sports: too many teams with watered down talent, too many regular season and post season games, and too many mediocre teams making the playoffs.

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 3 months ago

Tom hit the nail on the head.

I lived in Chicago during the Jordan years, "Thank you Jesus", and I know exactly what he is talking about.

There was a time when everyone stood around watching Jordan and it would become a 1 man game because they did not know how to play with each other. Eventually, maybe because of Detroit, they figured it out.

Jordan was the greatest player I ever saw at delivering the clutch play at the most critical times in games, whether it was a shot or setting up the shot. It was something that was not possible to explain completely. It was magical. When Jordan delivered the pass to Paxton or to Kerr, you KNEW they would hit that shot because you KNEW Jordan would not have made a pass that would not go in. They had that much confidence.

It was Larry Bird who once said after a game that he thought God came down to Earth and became Michael Jordan.

In all the games I have seen LeBron play in I have yet to see that kind of magic. I have watched too many games where LeBron did not deliver and I was almost always disappointed.

Kobe is the closest one I have seen to trying to play the way a superstar should play the game other than maybe Paul Pierce who has not gotten the same marketing hype but is a guy that knows how to make his team better.

SaulGood 9 years, 3 months ago

I am hugely jealous of you living in Mecca during the dual-three-strings. I was lucky enough to attend the United Center once during the run in '98 for a game. Jordan came down the lane and put a dent in Greg Ostertag's forehead with a beautiful stuff for one of his greatest highlights of his career, but the Bulls trailed the Jazz 94-101 at the end. I think you're exactly right - the "Jordan Rules" a la Daly and the Bad Boys are a good fit for any team that wants to take down the supposed three-prong scoring assault in Miami. Cut off these three heads and watch the team wither and die.

jaydee909 9 years, 3 months ago

Nice article, Keegan. I don't know if James is mature enouigh, can put all the attention he desires aside and pass the ball in a clutch situation, though. With all due respect to Chalmers, would like nothing better than Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen to kick the Heat's tail come playoffs time. Those are veterans that know how to play as a team.

100 9 years, 3 months ago

Eagle64 (below) is same poster as "theend".... On another post he's trying to make the two have a conversation.... Theend sets up a random "nice' comment about Sherron... Only to then have Eagle64 come in & attack Sherron... Same poster, different names.

KGphoto 9 years, 3 months ago

Is that you in the avatar? Thank you.

Dan Pawlowski 9 years, 3 months ago

Next time you get the urge to post. Put down the bottle, pipe or whatever bottle that holds the medication you just took and decide the better idea is to just go to bed and sleep it off.

Jared Grillot 9 years, 3 months ago

Whoops... bad info and bad spelling. Terrible combination. Try again. Try harder.

JRandall 9 years, 3 months ago

Your not even commenting on the right player Bozo.... LOL! Sherron Collins missed 2 flights for the Charlotte Bobcats. Unfortunately for you.. Mario had nothing to do with this.. and u look like an over zealous putz...

sloppyscience 9 years, 3 months ago

Sherron missed two flights, not Mario. You're an idiot.

Jared Grillot 9 years, 3 months ago

Welcome back! It must be nice to finally have time to read and post again.

Dan Pawlowski 9 years, 2 months ago

Interesting, The original comment and many of the replies were deleted. Not sure why.

Dyrk Dugan 9 years, 3 months ago

it's the order of the NBA...the stars always take the big shot. in LeBron's case, he always tries to draw the foul, as opposed to taking the big shot.

until he learns to defer to his teammates on those occasions, there will be no NBA title for him. and you can't truly be a superstar, unless you starting winning championships.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 3 months ago

TK most of us don't care what you think about the hawks, so we really don't care what you think the heat should do.

And had you actually watched the game you would of been able to give a little more weight to your arguement because Mario scored five straight in the final minutes to get the heat within striking distance.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 3 months ago

My guess is you're talking about your own opinion. At least I hope you aren't including me in that "most of us" and "we really don't care" stuff. Offhand I can't think of a time when I agreed with you on anything.

Lindsey Buscher 9 years, 3 months ago

While I don't mind some nice homerism from time to time and it did occur to me while watching that game that Chalmers is more than capable of adopting a clutch mindset of wanting the ball for the last shot...

However, Chalmers is not the only forgotten shooter on that team...don't forget about James Jones, this year's 3-point shooting contect winner.

Brianna Zaleski 9 years, 3 months ago

Not to mention that if James kicks out on some of these drive attempts that he has and the player (Chalmers, Jones et. al) hits the shot, that will only create more space for James the next time that situation occurs. Because the other team will be wary of leaving a player that has proved he can hit that shot. And that opportunity WILL present itself again and probably in the playoffs. If James was a true team player, he would be tinkering w/ new things in those situations during the season, because during the playoffs, when it matters most, the opposing team will be a little hesitant to react because of the different play/ players that have been involved in late game situations. At this point the whole f-ing world knows that LeBron is going to take (force) that shot, even if he has to do it w/ his off hand. Hell Wade can't even sniff the ball in late game situations and he is an All-Star! James is the 3rd choice for me, on that team, in late game, clutch situations. Behind Wade and Chalmers.

Alec White 9 years, 3 months ago

I get the sentiment for Mario taking the last shot. He's a clutch player obviously (and responsible for one of the most gratifying times in my life). And maybe it would be smart for Spoelstra to run an actual play at the end of the game because the whole iso thing at the top of the key isn't working. But c'mon guys, can you imagine what the headlines were to read if Rio' or another role player took the last shot and missed? And yes, I know of the Heat's abysmal shooting in the closing seconds of tight games but you can't just give the ball to a role player because they're deemed clutch. When you have two of the best five players in the world you need to utilize them.

Lastly, to all the people saying LBJ is selfish...please don't relate that to basketball. He lost nearly all my respect as a person this past summer and seems to be The King of Egomaniacs, but he is the best player in the world and an extremely unselfish player---almost to a fault in Cleveland. You don't average 7.5+ assists for the past three years by just being concerned with your own point total.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 3 months ago

I don't have the necessary research skills to do this, but it'd be nice to see a list of Chalmers' clutch shots. I think I remember him doing it twice in the Big12 tourney, of course the big one, but when else? Were there others?
One reality check, Mario's 36% 3 pointer rate, while not piss poor, is not exactly inspiring either. It's probably in the average range for NBA guards. If he was up near 50% then yes Keegans point is valid. Otherwise it's a bit of over the top KU homerism that makes us sound like Kentucky.

Kye Clark 9 years, 3 months ago

In the '07-'08 season against USC Chalmers hit a VERY deep 3 with just a couple of seconds left on the shot clock to ice the game. Up only 2 with about 20 seconds left, an empty possession there would have given the Trojans more than enough time to set up their offense and have a shot to either tie or take the lead. That was a pretty clutch shot and immediately sprung to mind.

As for pointing out Mario's 3pt %, you're right it's pretty average. But as was also pointed out, it's higher than James', Wade's, & Bosh's. It was just worth mentioning given the circumstances of that particular game - Chalmers with 5 straight points to give the Heat the lead (the last 5 points the Heat scored in the game if I'm not mistaken), and him being wide open in the corner. Obviously this is a KU website, so it's only natural to on occasion discuss former KU players and their current situation. I don't think that Keegan (or anyone) is suggesting Chalmers is a better player or that he be handed the reigns every game.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 3 months ago

Thanks, was that the other game winner or tying shot, or was it all you could remember? Of course knowing that Mario had scored 5 straight would have been relevant to the article. Too bad it wasn't mentioned.

actorman 9 years, 3 months ago

Well said, ict.

As I recall, it's not just that LeBron can't hit the clutch shots in Miami. I don't remember him hitting many (any?) game-winners in Cleveland either. The fact is that as great a player as LeBron is, he has just never proven that he can come through at the ends of the games, and he's exactly the WRONG player to be taking those shots.

Michael Auchard 9 years, 3 months ago

Not trying to hate on Chalmers, of whom I am a huge fan, but the ESPN segment went on from there to talk about how Chalmers bricked a game winner just a few nights ago.

So, while I wish Mario would get more shots, like everybody else on this board, I'm not sure he's shown himself to be some all-powerful answer to the Heat's equation.

hartbeat59 9 years, 3 months ago

Chalmers is not supposed to be the ANSWER for Miami. He needs to be, and has earned the right to be, recognized as a valuable part of the team. He also needs to be recognized as a player developing into an effective NBA point guard. You could not have a better example of this than the Bulls game. Except in number of shots attempted, Chalmers compared well with MVP-candidate point-guard Derrick Rose. Both had 1 rebound; both had 5 assists. Rose shot 52% from the field, but bricked all three 3-point attempts; Chalmers shot 80%, and 100% from 3. Both had 3 free throw attempts, although Chalmers uncharacteristically missed one. Rose had 1 steal, 0 blocks, and 3 turnovers. Chalmers had 2 steals, 0 blocks, and 1 turnover. In the all-important point guard statistic of assist to turnover ratio, Chalmer won in a landslide: 5 to 1 vs. 1.67 to 1. And on the less meaningful but nonetheless interesting +- stat, again, it was Chalmers in a blowout, with a +12 vs Rose at 0.

As for his overall 3-point rate, among starting point-guards with more than 70 attempts this year, Chalmers ranks #13 in the NBA, at .370. Of that group, only 6 shoot over .400, and only 2 over .440.

Judgesmails 9 years, 3 months ago

well, keegan didnt mention a peachbasket, horned-rimmed glasses or wally pip, so i'll give him props on one......finally.

watching miami fold is hilarious!! - but i do hope mario the best

brooksmd 9 years, 3 months ago

There's a professional basketball league? I've seen a game on TV where one guy dribbles the ball and shoots. If he makes it another guy dribbles the other way and shoots. If he misses, whoever gets the ball shoots. Give me high school and college ball any day.

jaybate 9 years, 3 months ago

"South Beach, Gladiators and Antoninus:"

Spoelstra has one function on that team: pretend to be coach until the team has enough experience and talent for Riles to swoop down and coach it to another ring. Not this year. Next.

Riles lined up his aces this season. He knew these three on their own couldn't win a sex lottery on ship of nymphos. He knew Spoelstra couldn't coach them to a ring any more than any pin head named van Gundy can keep from dirtying his own undies in a close game.

Rile specializes in picking these nano coaches to be punching bags for him until the stars have felt sufficient pain to submit to the master webmaster of hoops, to, to, to

Riles is just annihilating the egoes of Lebron, Wade and Bosh the way he does to every star.


Why before DoctorDiscipline is done with them, Lebron, Wade and Bosh will be holding triangular self-flagellation rituals at center court in Sur Beach.

We are watching the hoops equivalent of Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" here.

This is Traumnovelle.

This is three pampered, prima donnas being sent into "The Story of Lebron."

This is South Beach as The Chateau.

Air Sado Masochism.

Team bondage and discipline.

Basketball submission.

A total eclipse of the stars.

Let'em eat welts and learn to beg of more.

Riles is up in his box with the one way mirror looking down and laughing sadistically. He's loving it. Savoring it.

And Lebron walked right into it.

jaybate 9 years, 3 months ago

Lebron asked for it for relief from all the Super Stardom.

This is Lebron's "Escape from Freedom."

Lebron signed the contract to achieve ego annihiliation.

Lebron asked for the "hit me, beat me, make me write bad checks" drill that Riles is famous for.

I wouldn't be surprised, when Lebron, Wade and Bosh have exhausted themselves with self-flaggelation, that Riles sends Alonzo Mourning in wearing some bondage and discipline out fit and Zo starts kicking them and whipping them with a cat-o-nine-tails.

And when they finally just lay there and take it, then Riles, dressed as some dark, sinister figure named Il Commendatore enters their nth ring of Dante's Basketball Inferno and says, "Stand up, show me good posture, shoulders back, chests out, hands clenched behind your heads, now you star babies, you have seen that you are nothing without Il Commendatore. Nothing. I have broken you down. And I alone can build you back up again. I alone can provide you sniveling excuses for impact men with the necessary glue players with trifectas necessary to restore your dignities and your self esteems."

And Lebron and Wade and Bosh will do exactly as instructed, because they have been to Basketball Inferno and they know anything is better than that. Anything!!!!

And they are under contract! They created their own prisons. And Riles is their warden.

Welcome to Basketball Devil's Island fellas. There is only one way in and one way out. And Il Commendatore Riley holds the keys.

And Riles will keep Chalmers, and go out and get some proper glue men, and next season at mid season, after the team has had a chance to reform, and all the welts of self-flagellation have healed into faint scars, well, at that moment Il Commendatore will come down out of his box and take over the coaching job and lead them to a ring with a bull whip in his hand.

And Spoelstra?

He will be kicked up stairs where he will make drinks for Riles and turn his bed back for him, and put chocolates and roses on his pillows, and Riles will call him Antoninus whenever he steps in the locker room and all the once wild bulls in the harness that wept with Spoelstra, will look and shake there heads and say, "Look at Antoninus, he is Il Commendatore's servant, as we are. But we are Il Commendatore's gladiators and not his boy servant. We are gladiators that go to war for Il Commendatore. And one day, after we have won many rings, he will say of us, "They were boys once, but now they are men. And finer warriors I have never known."

It is the same movie where ever Riles goes.

100 9 years, 3 months ago

Either that or Calipari will take over the Heat in a week....

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