“How good were you really if you were nearly neutered by Hibbert?”

“How good were you really if you were nearly neutered by Hibbert?”

In all the “end of a decade” reviews, the Miami Heat didn’t get as much attention as you’d expect. They dominated the decade almost as long as the Warriors did, yet they weren’t talked about as much. Was it recency bias or something else?

On a podcast with Dan Le Batard, Zach Lowe asked a polarizing question. Were the James-Wade-Bosh Miami Heat a disappointment? Winning only 2 out of 4, and one of those rings thanks to a spectacular Ray Allen shot. Despite losing to Dirk and the Mavs, being dismantled by the San Antonio Spurs, and for a brief moment having a true rival in Derrick Rose and the Bulls, the team that almost broke the Heat were the Pacers. In particular, Roy Hibbert.

Hibbert, who was out of the league a few years after taking the Heat to a Game 7 in the conference Finals, was LeBron’s kryptonite. The hardest thing to explain about basketball to someone who never played or watched the game, but mainly played the game, is how much basketball is a matchup based sport. Everyone has a type of player they can’t seem to play as well against. For LeBron, it wasn’t a type of player; it was just Roy Hibbert.

When Hibbert was on the court, LeBron James wasn’t the same player. As much as he would deny it, the numbers reveal the truth. Henry Abbot wrote about it at the time, concluding that when Hibbert is in the game, LeBron stops driving to the rim. He passes or takes a mid-range shot. He started using the teardrop, something he never did before, exclusively because of Hibbert. People in Miami noticed. 

The Heat walked into a practice facility during that series, and LeBron was like taking baby hoks and stuff trying to work on something. They were like, “Are you really going to invent a new part of your game for this scarecrow?”

Dan Le Batard, on the Lowe Post

Le Batard concluded with a rhetorical question – how good were you really if you were nearly neutered by Hibbert? The Heat went to four straight Finals, won two, and were the team to beat in their time. A bad matchup in Roy Hibbert can’t change those facts. But in a conversation about historical teams? It’s a valid point to make.