LeBron James has been called many things: The King, Benedict Arnold, Bron-Bron, and so on.
You won't hear any such proper nouns coming out of Mario Chalmers's mouth. To Chalmers, James is just another anonymous has-been who made a pit stop in Miami and has since departed. At the Heat's NBA Media Day, Chalmers declined to reference James by name, calling him only, "that guy."
This is the same Mario Chalmers that was effectively DOA in last summer's NBA Finals. In the first two games, he scored as many points as he tallied personals fouls, and he finished with this exquisite Finals stat line: 4.4 points, 2.8 assists, and 3.2 fouls per game, not to mention his 14.3 percent shooting percentage from the 3-point line.
Chalmers was so bad that his head coach benched him for long stretches even as the Heat lost one of the most lopsided Finals series in NBA history. But the offseason seems to have cured the 28-year-old of any humility that experience might have instilled:
And so it begins. Chalmers refers to LeBron as "that guy" at Heat media day. Photographer said Chalmers appeared "regretful" about comment.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) September 26, 2014
The full quote, in fairness to Chalmers, is: "It's going to be the same even though we don't have that guy."
But here's the thing: It's not going to be the same at all. And if any modicum of similarity does remain, it's not likely to be Chalmers' fault. The point guard is so integral to his team's success that his coach has effectively put him on notice by gushing about the improvement of backup point guard Norris Cole.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat ultimately figure to slot in rookie Shabazz Napier as their long-term starter. Napier originally came to the team after the Heat learned that James was a big fan of the former UConn star, and his selection in this summer's NBA Draft was partially an effort to appeal to James.
But the prospect of replacing Chalmers wasn't enough to swing James' decision back to the Heat. Nevertheless, Chalmers is closer to being cut bait than a factor in whatever success the Heat achieve.
In other words, some things never change.