As they keep winning, the Heat keep passing marks across the sports landscape.
By CHRIS TOMASSON FS Florida
Move over, Gabby Hartnett’s gang.
Miami Heat are not just climbing the NBA ladder in terms of consecutive victories, they’re making history when it comes to all sports.
The Heat on Sunday at Toronto won their 22nd game in a row, tying them with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second longest streak in NBA history. The only longer streakers were the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 in a row, also the longest run in the history of the four major pro sports.
There are different ways to categorize Miami’s streak when compared with other sports. But at least the Heat, with their 108-91 win over the Raptors, can say they’ve passed the 1935 Chicago Cubs, led by Hall of Fame catcher Hartnett.
The Cubs, who won 21 straight, are acknowledged by many to have the Major League Baseball record. The New York Giants did win 26 in 1916, but they had a tie during the streak, although it didn't count in the standings. The Chicago White Stockings also reeled off 21 in a row, but it was in 1880, and pre-1900 marks generally aren’t recognized.
One could say the Heat are tied with the Rockets for the second-longest overall winning streak in pro sports history. Then again, if just the regular season is considered, they’re still behind the 2008-09 Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts won 23 straight regular-season games. So it would take two more wins for the Heat to get Peyton Manning to move over.
As for the NHL record, there’s no dispute Miami is ahead of that one. The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 in a row.
Next up for the Heat is trying to move ahead of the Rockets when they play Monday at Boston. That Houston outfit featured current Miami forward Shane Battier, the only player in NBA history to have been a part of two straight 20-game winning streaks.
“I told Shane, ‘We’re at the door now, open it,’ ’’ Miami forward LeBron James said after Sunday’s game. “Shane was like, ‘I was expecting you guys.’ Shane has been on two (long-streaking) teams. That’s a pretty unique thing to be on two teams that have placed themselves in NBA history.’’
Heat president Pat Riley was a reserve guard on the Lakers team that reeled off 33 in a row. Riley hasn’t been made available during Miami’s streak to discuss that, but Battier has been talking plenty.
“They can sleep in any guest room in the house, just stay away from my bedroom,’’ Battier quipped about the Heat having tied the Rockets’ run.
When it comes to his personal longest winning streak, it hasn’t been in the NBA. Battier won 32 straight games as a Duke sophomore in 1998-99. Heat guard Ray Allen also had a longer winning streak in college, having won 23 in a row as a Connecticut junior in 1995-96.
Miami point guard Mario Chalmers won 20 in a row at Kansas to start his junior season in 2007-08. If you want to go back to the previous regular season while throwing out the 2007 NCAA tournament, Chalmers was on teams that registered 31 consecutive wins.
If you want to count high school, though, James trumps them all. He had a 36-game winning streak at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio., starting with the first game of his freshman year of 2000-01 and extending into his sophomore season.
Obviously, though, it’s much tougher to win in the NBA. And James sure is proud of the Heat’s ongoing streak.
“It’s a special team,’’ James said. “It’s a special ride right now that we’re on. I think the best thing about it is we’re doing it together. We’re doing it for one another. We just want to try to keep it going.’’
They’ll next try against the upset-minded Celtics. It was five years ago Monday, on March 18, 2008, that Boston ended Houston’s 22-game streak with a resounding 94-74 win.
If the Heat can keep going, they could reach 34 straight April 9 against Milwaukee. The Bucks were the team that stopped the Lakers’ 33-game winning streak with a 120-104 win on Jan. 9, 1972.
If the Heat can get to 34, they would become the all-time leader in American pro sports history. One supposes they then could set their sights on James’ personal mark of 36.