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The Elder. The Heat.

Wade, left, Stanley, right.
Wade, left, Stanley, right. Faded glory.

Back when I was a young kid, KISS was—hands down—the biggest band in the world. It’s weird to imagine now, but they were everything. Big. Bad. Explosive. The makeup was frightening, the music got your heart pumping. Paul Stanley, the star child, made women scream. Gene Simmons, the demon, was terrifying. Ace Frehley, lead guitarist, seemed to walk on air. And Peter Criss, the fabled cat man, was cooler than cool.

Again, KISS was everything—and even my grandma and grandpa—German immigrants who only listened to classical music—knew of their existence.

They would dominate forever.

They could not be stopped.

They would not be stopped.

And then, well, they were stopped.

It happened in November 1981, when the band released its ninth studio album—Music from The Elder. Tired of being labeled strictly a rock band, the members of KISS (now featuring Eric Carr, a new drummer) decided to do something different. Namely, a concept album featuring nonsensical medieval themes and larger-than-life songs.

Pfft. The album bombed in an historic way, selling less than 500,000 copies and going down as one of the worst pieces of shit of all time. Though still a big band, KISS never fully recovered. Ace left shortly thereafter, then they went through a removal of the makeup, then more bad albums. Just … bad.

Which leads me to the Miami Heat.

In losing decisively to the San Antonio Spurs in tonight’s fifth and deciding game of the NBA Championship Series, I felt as if I were watching LeBron James as Gene Simmons., Dwyane Wade as Paul Stanley and Chris Bosh as Ace. This series was their Elder; a sad, weird attempt at greatness that fell (and felt) terribly flat. The Heat of the past few years never showed up, and neither did the team’s swagger. Suddenly Wade looks old and Bosh looks like a jump-shooter and LeBron looks, well, sorta bored. I can actually picture Simmons in the studio, yawning through “A World Without Heroes,” wondering if this is as good as it gets.

I’m not certain of many things in sports, but I’m pretty sure the Heat dynasty (which wasn’t really a dynasty) ended tonight. The team lacks in coaching imagination and depth, Wade is a shell of his former self and, for the first time, I can actually imagine LeBron leaving for a new challenge.

It’s weird and funky and odd.

Just like The Elder.