Former Dolphins receiving standout -- and devoted Heat fan -- O.J. McDuffie joined me during a contentious Monday filled with anxiety stemming from the Heat's recent free fall. Suffice to say, we didn't talk much about football:
What was your take on Sunday's 87-86 loss to the Bulls? "It's tough, man. It's really is, Joe. You know, it's been happening to us a lot lately, man, big games obviously, I know a lot of people are frustrated, but what bothers me more is we continue to go to the same sets late in the game with the game's on the line and it hasn't worked out. We've already had a closer here in Dwyane Wade. I've been a big, big, big, big Cleveland Cavs fan all my life, growing up in Cleveland. LeBron's never been a closer. I think he admits he's not a closer. So, it drives me crazy that Spoelstra still draws up plays for LeBron."
You want to see Dwyane Wade with the ball at the end and give LeBron a rest? "We've seen it over and over again. Dwyane is a finisher, man. He's one of those guys in the league--you know, not quite like Kobe [Bryant], you know, even [Carmelo Anthony]--but he's one of those closers, man. We've seen it over and over again where we've seen LeBron come up short. You know, he's admitted he's come up short a bunch of times to his teammates, so they're in a situation right there where I think Dwyane should become facilitated and everyone else falls in where they can."
O.J., you don't really think that LeBron would admit that he's not a closer, do you? "There are a lot of other people that already know that. I love LeBron. Don't get it twisted. I'm not bashing LeBron, because for three-and-a-half quarters, he's outstanding, he really is."
It's funny, you can say that, but I tell you what, if you said that to him, like 'Listen LeBron, I think you're really good the first three and a half quarters. You're one of the best players, if not the best player, but not in the last half of the last quarter,' I'm guessing he would take that like you don't think that he's very good: "Yeah, well, you know what? It's all about closing, man. Craig Hodges used to play for the Chicago Bulls, he used to sit on the bench for 47 minutes and drop a bomb on somebody, you know? That's clutch right there and that's what you've got to be. If you're going to be a superstar, you've got to be able to close it like a Kobe does."
How much do you blame Erik Spoelstra for this? "It's happened so many times. He's drawn the same play up, LeBron on the point, try to make something happen, everybody spread out. It hasn't happened whereas in the past, we've had Dwyane. Dwyane's done this before. You talk about frustration, I bet Dwyane is as frustrated as it gets, because he's had the ball in his hands, he invited these guys down here to come play with him, and now look what's happening. When the game's on the line, he's not the guy to have the ball in his hands. It's gotta stink for him."