LJWorld.com weblogs 'Hawks in the NBA
Why Mario — not LeBron — should wear No. 6 next year for the Miami Heat
Like many of you, I watched the LeBron James announcement on ESPN — if that’s what they’re still calling it these days — on Thursday night.
Like many of you, I didn’t want to. But I did. And, after absorbing the circus that unfolded on live television, I came to terms with the fact that LeBron was headed to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Not that it was that difficult. I’m not a LeBron fan, I don’t root for the Heat and I’m not from Cleveland.
What happened last night did nothing to change the team I grew up rooting for, the Denver Nuggets.
But it did change life for one guy we all know — Mario Chalmers. It’s been widely publicized already that, in Miami, Mario wears the jersey number that LeBron wants. When asked about the coveted No. 6 during his television “special” Thursday night, LeBron said he’d have to call Mario up and work something out.
According to NBAstore.com, that phone call already has taken place. As you can see, the name that now appears on the back of the Miami Heat’s No. 6 jersey is James, not Chalmers. That didn’t take long.
I’m sure Mario’s fine with the change and I’m even more certain that LeBron or Pat Riley or David Stern made Mario’s willingness to give up the number worth his while.
But I couldn’t help but think that asking Mario to give up the number was unfair. I’m not saying Mario had a special bond with the number. We all know he wore No. 15 at KU and probably would have continued to do so had it been available when he arrived in Miami. So swapping probably was no problem for him. But let’s be serious here, why does LeBron deserve the number more than Mario?
Mario already has spent two years in Miami, has done more for the Heat than LeBron has — so far — and has been nothing but a pleasant surprise for the franchise that took a chance on him in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft. I realize he hasn’t won an MVP award but it’s not as if he’s done nothing. In fact, I’d be willing to say — out loud even — that Mario’s biggest shot, which needs no explanation, is, to this point, far bigger than any shot LeBron has taken or made. In fact, I’m saying it’s not even close.
During the past decade or so, LeBron has hit dozens of game-winners, thrown down countless nasty dunks and made some acrobatic shots that seemed darn near impossible to make. Big deal. Did any of them ever deliver a ring?
Mario’s biggest shot did. And even though that ring may have come in the NCAA Tournament, there are plenty of players in the NBA who would happily trade a few million dollars of their net worth to say they own what Mario has. Many of them have gone on record as saying so.
So there you have it. LeBron’s the better player, the better scorer, the better passer, the better global icon, the better egomaniac, the better marketing dream, the better NBA golden boy. But even on his best day, he hasn’t hit a shot as important as the one Mario hit against Memphis in 2008.
I know Mario’s Miracle didn’t come with the Heat, but until LeBron trumps it, I say it’s Mario who should be wearing No. 6 in Miami. LeBron should pick another number.
On second thought, maybe not. I’d hate to see that decision wind up as over-the-top and drawn-out as the last one.