You must know failure before you can meet with success…

Last night, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the hapless Miami Heat defeated themselves to lose the NBA championship to the aging Dallas Mavericks in Miami. The final score doesn’t matter to anyone outside the city limits of Dallas, Texas.

What matters is that the most talent-rich team in the NBA self-destructed in spectacular fashion during a game that they had to win. Sports critics will analyze and deconstruct game 6 of the NBA Finals from now until next season (if there’s no lockout). There will be heated debate among the fans about LeBron’s habit of choking in 4th quarters and how he’s on the team just to sell jerseys.

But basketball purists know that critical games are won and lost by the team as a whole — not by any one player.

The 2011 NBA Finals was lost in game 2 when the Heat, as a team, blew a commanding 15 point lead in the final 6 minutes of the game. The rest of the series was a foregone conclusion. It was like the aging Mavs drained the life out of the young Miami Heat in game 2.

You can’t win championships if you have no heart. And, as a team, Miami’s heart failed them in game 2 of the Finals.

Photos by Getty Images North America