The Miami Heat came in with more pomp and circumstance than any team in any sport in recent memory.
The team took innumerable insults and challenges, were more scrutinized than John Gotti and had a bigger target on their backs than Osama bin Laden. Yet despite all of the extra attention and a slow start, they compiled a 58-24 record, won their division and then their conference.
The only thing that kept them from winning the NBA Championship was a great performance by the Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki, as well as a few choke jobs by the Heat.
With their impressive start against those same Mavericks, it may be time to jump on the Heat bandwagon. They did virtually nothing to address the two major flaws that the team had (point guard and center) but that wasn’t what stopped them from winning last year, and it might not be something for them to worry about this year, either.
The Heat have added some young, very raw and unproven commodities in Norris Cole, Terrell Harris, and Mickell Gladness.
It is unlikely that they all step up and make an impact, but if one of them can step forward and fill a hole for the Heat, even in terms of their depth at guard or center, it could really help this team.
However, the real difference won’t be made by someone who has been bouncing around Euro leagues. It will be because the Big Three continues to grow as a dynamic trio.
The potential of this team is encapsulated by a single play. Chalmers steals the ball and pushes it up court. He throws a lob pass to James, but instead of James fighting through a defender and slamming it down, he tips the ball (from a foot above the rim) to Wade, who then slams it home uncontested.
That type of chemistry between superstar-caliber players is what can make them a truly special team. That is truly special in an all-time sense, not the generic “this guy is special” sense that is thrown around at every draft.
Yes, they have flaws. Yes, the roster is top-heavy. No, that is not a good enough reason to shoot them down.
I believe the 97-98 Bulls are the greatest team in NBA history (NBA Champions, 72-10 regular season record, MVP Michael Jordan, Scoring leader Michael Jordan, Finals MVP Michael Jordan). They too had a dynamic trio of Jordan, Pippin, and Rodman. They had the flash and flair, media scrutiny and expectations that the Heat have. They also were a top-heavy team.
Everyone remembers Pippin being on that team, but few remember that he only played in 44 games in the regular season. Jordan was the only player on his team that was scoring for his team. In fact, he scored almost two-and-a-half times more than the second-highest scorer on the team (Jordan 2,357 vs. Kukoc 984).
For the Heat to win at the same percentage (actually slightly higher) as the Bulls, they would have to win 56 games this season.
The lower total number makes it easier on the Heat to hit the 87 win percentage. With fewer chances for injuries and more compact games giving them more chances to maintain momentum, this team has a legit shot to do something truly special.
If you are a fan of sports and not an Eastern Conference foe, take the time to enjoy what could be something very special instead of getting wrapped up in the hate that is associated with this team.