Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Streaks of ‘Hawks, Heat Fraught With Drama

Seth Greenberg has 383 career victories, boasts a career .567 winning percentage and was twice named ACC men’s basketball coach of the year. During his time at the helm of Virginia Tech and Long Beach State, Greenberg reached the NCAA tournament three times and had postseason berths in 11 of his 22 years as a college basketball head man.

So, naturally, last week Greenberg found himself on SportsCenter discussing the Chicago Blackhawks.

Those Blackhawks are the talk of the NHL these days. The league’s hottest team was in the midst of its record-setting streak, eventually notching 24 games without a regulation loss to start the year.

Sitting at a roundtable with NBA analyst Tim Legler and the face (and hair) of NHL breakdown, Barry Melrose, Greenberg was asked about the Blackhawks’ scorching start. While he acknowledged the validity of such an unprecedented run, the former Hokies coach remained mostly unimpressed. There was something else on his mind. Something equally as “hot.”

Greenberg chose to instead focus on the accomplishments of the Miami Heat, who are currently entrenched in a win streak that has now stretched to 20 games. Much to the dismay of Melrose — but to the surprise of no one — the former basketball coach stayed true to his roots, decisively favoring the round ball over the puck. And with good reason: The cream of the NBA crop has steamrolled nearly every team to have the misfortune to cross its path during the past month.

The funny thing is, no answer Greenberg could have given would have been right — there is no better streak. While all the banter would have us believe otherwise, superiority is a murky business when it comes to comparing the streaks. Each run is an entirely unique beast.

For one, the teams’ respective seasons are incongruent. While the Heat are in the dog days of another grueling 82-game NBA season, the Blackhawks have only just begun their abridged NHL campaign. The lockout-shortened season, with a mere 48 games, means the 2013 NHL is more a sprint than a marathon. With the abbreviated season comes a quirky schedule, too — the Blackhawks will only suit up against Western Conference foes this season, amounting to a greater concentration of games against their fellow Central Division rivals, which Melrose has deemed the best division in hockey. To reach the halfway point of the season without a regulation loss, with the added difficulty of the compact lockout season, is an undoubtedly monumental achievement for the ’Hawks.

The sizzling opening to 2013 for Chicago’s finest is even more remarkable considering the chaos the lockout wreaked on the preamble to the NHL season. There was no extended training camp for the Blackhawks — just a few days on short notice to craft the chemistry that would glue the team together. The Heat, on the other hand, had defending champs’ momentum, training camp and three months of regular season play under their belt before beginning their February takeover.

But it would be a grand mistake to ignore the basketball being played in South Beach right now. Thanks to their middle-of-the-season burst, the Heat have already sewn up a playoff spot with one month remaining on the regular season NBA calendar. Let’s not forget, either — this is 20 straight W’s forLeBron James and company, by an average of over 11 points per game. With three shootout losses during their fantastic flurry to begin the season, the Blackhawks’ best run of consecutive regulation victories was just 11.

The Heat haven’t taken advantage of a lull in their schedule either; rather, their victims during the run are a nearly comprehensive list of choices, both popular and dark horse, for deep playoff runs this year. Houston, both Los Angeles teams, Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Indiana all have been felled by the streaking Heat.

And really, how could you ignore any win streak that involves LeBron James? The pre-eminent star of the NBA has piloted the Heat during their extraordinary stretch, with game averages of 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while shooting an astronomical 60 percent from the field.

In the end, though, all the back and forth between the two streaks is nice, but it distracts from the most important takeaway — the very fact that we are comparing them.

At the outset of 2013, who could have guessed that we would be mentioning the poster boy of superstar melodrama, LeBron James, in the same breath as unassuming Canadian captain Jonathan Toews? That the Blackhawks, a team that has fallen on hard times since bringing the Stanley Cup back to the Windy City in 2010, would be in the same conversation as the NBA’s next dynasty, the presumed eventual home of all those trophies LeBron promised?
Whichever streak you favor, whichever explosion of success you see as more impressive, remember to take a step back and appreciate the enthralling sports theater before us. That hush? That’s LeBron, slowly silencing his critics. That roar? That’s Patrick Kane tallying another goal. That chatter? That’s the NHL and the NBA being talked about. Equally. Finally.

Remember these moments of sports fan utopia. Not for one streak being better than the other. That’s too hard to call. Remember these runs for the two being one, hockey and basketball together at the summit of the sporting world.

Peter Barston is a freshman in the McDonough School of Business. RAISING THE BAR appears every Friday.

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