For the Miami Heat, Tuesday night isn't just an average, run-of-the-mill regular season opener.
Receiving the rings could be considered a distraction on opening night, but that's besides the point. It's something that must happen, and seeing the products of their elite play last season first-hand will provide Miami with more than enough motivation moving forward.
For someone like LeBron especially, this is a big deal. Dwyane Wade won a title back in 2005. This isn't second nature to him, but he's been here before. LeBron hasn't, though, and this is supposed to be the first of The King's many crowning achievements throughout his career.
Anyone who watched him play last season and throughout the Olympics this summer knows that LeBron has a special look in his eye. The monkey is off his back, and now he can just go play. But there will always be the hunger to win another, and holding that coveted ring for the first time will continue to drive him toward that goal.
For the record, I'm not a big fan of James or the Heat, but the improvements that this team made during the offseason are impossible to miss. Even fans of the rival Celtics have to recognize that the Heat have filled in a few key spots on their roster and that they will be even tougher to beat this season.
Bringing in sharpshooters like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis will be a tremendous boost in itself. The Heat already have James Jones, Mike Miller and Shane Battier spreading the floor with their perimeter shooting; adding two more lethal outside strokes is barely fair. Not all of these guys will receive a ton of minutes, but the options are there.
Who is the biggest threat to the Heat?
Now, LeBron and Wade have more freedom. Driving and kicking will be second nature to this team, and James won't have to shoot from the outside at all if he doesn't want to.
The Heat still have a potential problem underneath, assuming Chris Bosh doesn't fit at center. This is definitely a team that doesn't require concrete positions in its lineup because of the versatility of its players, but rebounding and playing interior defense could be an issue at some point in the season.
LeBron will always have his fair share of detractors, and those same people snub their nose at the Heat, but, hate aside, this team is the real deal. Anything short of a repeat, on paper, would be utterly shocking.
The Celtics may not want to watch Miami receive its championship rings Tuesday night, but NBA fans around the world will be. Tuesday night's game provides Miami with an emotional start to the season and is the first step toward realizing the massive expectations it is facing.