Chris Russo talking Damian Lillard destinations on First Take. Chris Russo talking Damian Lillard destinations on First Take.

Back for his weekly appearance on First Take, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo came locked and loaded, throwing an immediate chaos grenade by mocking All-Star Damian Lillard for requesting a trade to Miami.

“How do you sit there and compare Miami to Boston? It’s the NBA capital of the world,” said Russo, making his case for Boston as a vastly superior landing spot for Lillard. “You win a championship for the Boston Celtics, it’s a big deal. You win a championship for the Miami Heat, who cares? That’s a terrible sports area.”

While the Celtics certainly have more history, the Heat have been more relevant of late, winning three of seven Finals appearances since 2006. The Celtics, meanwhile, have captured one title (2008) over their last 37 seasons.

“Boston’s better than Miami anyway, despite what happened to them last year in the postseason. That’s a better team,” opined Russo. “The leprechaun, Red Auerbach, Cousy, Russell, Bird. That’s basketball.”

You can’t blame Mad Dog for playing the hits—his infatuation with players and teams from the distant past is often played up for comedic effect. Still, it’s a laughable argument, conveniently forgetting Miami just went to the Finals and could have won it all if not for injuries to Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro.

Not only are the Heat better coached (Joe Mazzulla was lucky to keep his job after the Celtics fell apart in the Eastern Conference Finals), but Miami, with its vibrant nightlife and oceanfront real estate, is a global destination, enticing LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neal, David Beckham and Lionel Messi, among other superstar athletes. It also doesn’t hurt that Florida is one of only a handful of states where residents aren’t subject to personal income taxes.

Miami may not have the most compelling trade package—they’re said to be offering Herro and Duncan Robinson, among other pieces. But in the age of “player empowerment,” megastars like Lillard hold all the cards, bullying their way to whatever team best suits them, sometimes for pennies on the dollar.

[First Take]

About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.