(This is another in a series of 30 guest columns that will run in October, when optimism reigns supreme across the NBA. The theme will be “Five Reasons to Feel Positive About … ” We encourage you to follow the authors on Twitter and visit their sites. – CS)
Honestly, it’s nearly impossible to list just five reasons to feel positive about the NBA champion Miami Heat. The “Big Three” could take up three spots by themselves, and the fact that they are in possession of the Larry O’Brien Trophy is another great reason to keep partying on Biscayne Boulevard right in front of AmericanAirlines Arena.
But the 2012-13 season is finally ready to start, and this will be a different challenge for the Heat. While the Eastern Conference doesn’t appear to present much of a challenge, gritty teams like the Boston Celtics won’t go down without a fight. In the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder would love the opportunity to seek revenge, while the Los Angeles Lakers have plenty to prove themselves.
From the outset of training camp, coach Erik Spoelstra has stressed that the team has a fantastic opportunity to win a title this season but purposely refused to use the word “repeat.” That’s because the Heat start 0-0 like any other team, and the mindset is to avoid complacency.
Then again, when you can count on the reigning MVP and Finals MVP to help out the cause, I’d say that’s a pretty good start. Which leads to the first of five reasons to feel excited about the Heat.
1. LeBron James plays for the Heat
A no-brainer. James isn’t just the best basketball player in the world, he’s at the peak of his considerable powers and it almost feels like he is just getting started in absolutely dominating the game at both ends of the floor.
As the centerpiece of the new “positionless” style that will be emphasized more this season, James can truly control the game with his court vision, ballhandling, devastating drives to the rim and dogged defense that is a hallmark of the Pat Riley vision of Heat basketball.
We’ve witnessed, ahem, a willingness to add to his game and incorporate more post-up moves to his arsenal. But his growth off the court is evident as well. Perhaps it helped playing for a stable franchise led by longtime owner Micky Arison and a legend in Riley that knows how to win rings.
Maybe that had a lot to do with it, or maybe it’s overstated. But James the player has never been more comfortable playing alongside Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a talented supporting cast. That’s a good enough reason to be quite excited if you’re a Heat fan – and depressed if you’re a fan of any other team.
2. Dwyane Wade is rested and healthy again
It’s amazing to realize that the player formerly known as “Flash” is now one of the Heats’s elder statesman. While it may be fair to question his durability the past few years, Wade took this summer off and got proper treatment for his troublesome knee.
Spoelstra insisted at Heat training camp that we would see that quickness and lateral movement that Wade enjoyed earlier in his career. It remains to be seen whether that will hold up over the course of an 82-game season, but he looked better and better once he began to play in the preseason.
The Heat have a chance to be utterly dominant if Wade can truly be healthy and at the top of his game.
Pages: 1 2