Something is missing from the Miami Heat’s record-chasing winning streak, something that many athletes will tell you is so vital that they can’t possibly continue this successful run without it:
Sports are rife with superstitions, never more so than when a player or a team is enjoying and committed to repeating some particular success. Remember Wade Boggs, the five-time American League batting champion in the 1980s and eventual Hall of Fame third baseman? For all his hand-eye coordination and other training methods, Boggs probably would tell you his career had as much to do with the chicken dinners he ate every day, the batting practice he had to take at precisely 5:17 p.m. or the infield practice in which he would take exactly 150 ground balls, no more, no less.
Hall of Fame hockey goalie Glenn Hall used to, er, lose his lunch before every game, with teammates worrying whenever he wasn’t worrying himself sick. Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, during his club’s winning streak a couple years ago, announced to the world that he would neither change nor wash his underwear.
With proven results such as that, the Heat – in running their streak to 24 consecutive victories, nine shy of the NBA record set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers – surely must have some oddities, habits or rituatls in play?
As forward Shane Battier said late Wednesday night in Cleveland, “Athletes are all superstitious and even if they don’t admit it, there’s a routine and just a cadence to our days. Especially when things go well, you can see us try to replicate it.”
Exactly. Just what we suspected. And yours are …
“Nope,” Battier said. “Well, I try to drink the same beer – Bud Light – but that’s about it. You never know. I don’t want to chance luck and switch up brands, so I’m staying loyal to Bud Light.”
Like Battier, Heat guard Dwyane Wade claimed not to have any habits that would blur the lines between routine and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
“Nothing that’s like, ‘Aww, I have to do this every time,’ ” Wade said. “Maybe you do something two days, three days, two games. But for the whole twenty-however-many-games we’ve won? Nah. To me, every day is different. My body feels different certain days.”
The Heat started their streak back on Feb. 3. So if anyone in their traveling party had decided to follow Leyland’s lead on underwear or socks, Wade and Battier feel they would have sniffed it out by now.
“That ain’t right,” Wade said, with a grimace. “Not that I know of. Nothing crazy like that. We haven’t smelled anything.”
Said Battier: “That’s taking it a little bit too far. That’s more of a baseball thing.”