It's where idealism lives, and mortality doesn't. It's where life's small sample size blows evrerything out of proportion… magnifying the little things because, really, you don't know that they're little things until later in life.
Youth is a funny place in life. It's where the Celtics stars were once upon a time… and where the Miami Heat's big guns are now. Cocksure megastars with U-Haul trucks full of money living in South Beach. Youth is their biggest asset. But, as with most big strengths, youth is also, perhaps, their biggest weakness.
Ask Paul Pierce. He knows. He new it back in 2007 when he was asked if their new "Big 3" would work five years before they were assembled.
"Man, truthfully? Five years ago? That's hard to say. That's the problem with young players. They're still trying to make their name in the NBA. As bad as it sounds, some of them put winning second," Pierce said. "Even though they might talk about how much they want to win, everybody knows they want to make a name for themselves. So we probably would have been in that position."
Five years before 2007, the Celtics would have been as old as the Miami Heat are now. Five years ago, Paul Pierce would have been trying to LeBron everything while Ray was pulling the Dwyane Wade "I used to be the go-to guy" act.
Things aren't always what they seem. Congregating three stars in one city isn't a guarantee for anything. The Celtics had other things that helped them succeed right away. The right coach. The right complementary pieces. The right ownership. And the right perspective.
It takes some perspective in life to really come to the best decisions. It's why people always say things like "if I only knew then what I know now…" The perspective of having played a LONG time in the NBA without winning a title showed Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen that there were things they truly, honestly needed to give up or share to make this work.
The Celtics, then, embraced a coaching philosophy and became willing cogs in that machine. They work in symphony on both ends of the court. The shots go to the player who can make them, not to the player who's up next in the "its your turn to score" rotation. They trust in their teammates and their organization.
The Heat haven't gotten there yet. Their coach doesn't command their stars respect. Instead, he tries to find ways to keep them all happy. The stars are looking to find defined roles rather than let the flow of the game dictate who will get what on a certain night. One star has already won a title being "the man" and now is being asked to take a step back so the guy without a title can dominate the ball in late game situations.
And that guy, LeBron, is still too young to give up any bit of the spotllight. He's too young to look at what the Celtics have done and really grasp the inner workings of building a championship team. He lacks the proper perspective to be part of a champion. He still wants… and needs… to be the guy who "leads his team" to a title.
But who led the Celtics in 2008? Pierce? Garnett? Ray?
There's a lot that goes into building a title. Miami has more flaws than the lack of perspective that plagues LeBron James. But until Miami stops becoming Cleveland-South when the going gets tough, They're not going to be anywhere close to following the Celtics blueprint. Because the Celtics blueprint calls for more than just throwing three stars together in a city. Until the Heat realize that, they're going to be what they are right now: Deeply flawed.