August 14, 2010 by Rodimus Dunn
When Lebron James stated he was “taking my talents to South Beach” the Miami Heat became a more polarizing team than the Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, and maybe even the Yankees. Whether or not you have venom in your heart towards the Superfriends, Miami Thrice, Holy Trinity, Three Kings, or whatever you wish to call them, everyone is excited to see how three superstars in their prime can mesh together on the court. By accepting a lot less money and losing an immeasurable amount of popularity, James (deemed “The Sidekick” by Cleveland’ers) essentially made imminent greatness a requirement for this experiment to be considered a success. But what would be considered enough success? How many titles would the team have to win? How many more MVPs would James need to win? Would all three guys have to be elected to the Hall of Fame? There is no barometer for such an unprecedented occurrence … or is there?
I know Americans don’t care about Hockey anymore, especially Canadian hockey teams, but Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers provided a fantastic illustration of what a team constructed of all-stars in their primes should accomplish. Gretzky was unequivocally the best hockey player who ever lived; basically everyone agreed that Lebron was well on his way to putting his name into that conversation in basketball, so the comparison is legit. James and Wade are sure fire hall of famers barring a serious injury, the jury is still out for Bosh. The dynasty Oilers had a ridiculous 6 hall of famers (Gretzky, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, and Glenn Anderson)! They didn’t just have a bunch of great players from 1980-81 through 1989-90, they accomplished some amazing feats also, many of which may never be duplicated in sports history … unless the Superfriends do some super things on the court.
When all was said and done, those amazing Oilers won 5 Stanley Cups in a ten year span. To be completely accurate, they won those five championships in the last 7 years of their amazing run! Moreover, they also lost in the finals twice in those ten years. So all told, in ten years, they played for the championship a remarkable 7 times! Will any team in any major sport ever come close to duplicating such a feat? I’d imagine the easy answer is no, but I also never would have imagined that a team in a salary capped sport could acquire three top ten guys in their primes.
Team glory is typically accompanied by individual glory, and the Oilers had plenty of that with lots to spare. Those 5 Stanley Cup championships produced 4 playoff MVP awards (in 1986 rookie goalie Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers won the award in a losing effort as he almost single-handedly took the Oilers to a game 7 in the finals). They had a total of 8 regular season MVP awards during the ten year run; they amassed 6 individual scoring titles, 2 defensive player of the year awards, and 1 award for the best goalie. They even had 15 guys make the NHL 1st team and 9 guys make the NHL 2nd team. One could easily counter with “Gretzky accounted for almost all of those records, so it shouldn’t count.” Of course Gretzky had a hand in almost all of those records; he was the most gifted hockey player every time he stepped onto the ice. But can’t we say the same thing about Lebron? He’s probably been the most gifted person on the court since he was about 15 years old. Hockey is an absolute team sport (not like baseball, which is an individual sport masked as a team sport), so having just the best guy doesn’t guarantee success (just ask Ovechkin, Alexander).
I admit it’s not a really fair comparison since the Superfriends haven’t played a game together yet, but here’s a comparison of how the two teams stack up right now:
Championships Playoff MVPs
Oilers- 5 Heat-1 Oilers- 4 Heat- 1
Regular season MVPs Scoring titles
Oilers- 8 Heat-2 Oilers- 6 Heat- 2
1st team selections 2nd team selections
Oilers- 15 Heat- 6 Oilers- 9 Heat- 5
Defensive player of the year
Oilers-2 Heat- 0
All told, the “Miami Thrice” have a long way to go to catch Gretzky’s gang from the 1980s. Heck, they might not even be the best actual team in the NBA next season. Either way, once the King decided that he was going to take his talents to South Beach, he entered into a competition with the Great One that he may have no chance to win.