Call it the rookie season "curse" of a super team.
First comes the hype...then the incredibly exaggerated expectations...then the inevitable failure of not meeting those expectations...then legitimate doubt...and finally, a toxic mixture of paranoia and overreaction slowly emanating from the media to the locker room.
But, as the Miami Heat eventually came to realize, all of the nonsense was nothing more than a media-concocted mind game that aims to impose an artificial timer to counteract the most conducive element of all-patience.
With that said, the collective psyche of the Heat is in a much better place now, with their championship success last year validating the notion that they are much more than the sum of its parts.
Remember when Miami Thrice first hit the league in the 2010 and the prevailing knock on them was that they were a three-headed monster with little to no room for error because of their limited depth?
Well, what about Chris Bosh getting injured in the first game of the second round last year against the Pacers? He was sidelined for the remainder of that series and the majority of the conference finals against Boston. And guess what—Miami still won.
They still won despite knee issues hampering Dwyane Wade.
They still won despite cramps sidelining LeBron in the key moments of Game Four of the NBA Finals.
As a result,the Heat not only proved to the world last year that they were, indeed, champions, but they proved to themselves that no amount of adversity will deter them from success.
And that reality carries on to this season.
Disaster Scenario #1: Chris Bosh tears his ACL.
Rationale: Heat can't repeat without Bosh.
How To Deal With This: Obviously, Chris Bosh wouldn't be the player he is if Miami could just replace his contribution by adding someone else. Losing Bosh to injury would certainly be a giant obstacle to overcome, but here''s why Miami could do it
For one, they have the best player in the NBA in LeBron James—someone who has taken teams to the NBA Finals with Mo Williams as the second best player on his team.
Second, Miami realized the full potential of a pace and space lineup during the NBA Finals and how it best complements the strengths of it's two best players, LeBron and D-Wade. So, although Miami had difficulty overcoming Bosh's loss against the Celtics in the conference Finals-the series turned once he came back-the team now has an identity it can rely on.
Last, but not least, Miami would receive an injury exception as a result of losing Bosh which it could use to sign an extra big man on the market like Kenyon Martin.
Analysis: Ultimately, it would require a team effort to overcome the loss, but if Dwyane Wade and a slightly past his prime Shaquille O'neil can win a championship, I don't see why Wade and an entering-his-prime LeBron James couldn't do the same.
Disaster scenario #2: Heat lost Wade to season-ending injury.
Rationale: While some may argue if Chris Bosh is a superstar, hardly anyone will engage in the same debate about Dwyane Wade. In a nutshell, the Miami Heat are the "super" team they are because they have two superstars. And, without Wade, their aura of invincibility loses significant clout.
How to Deal With This: Losing Wade would not only be a huge blow to Miami, but it would also open up a can of worms regarding his importance to the team.
We all have heard, ad nauseum, about Miami's success without Wade in the lineup. In fact, you could almost argue that the only disaster bigger than how Miami would cope with losing Wade is if it managed to do so quite effectively.
Nevertheless, the Heat have proven they can win without Wade. They did so in the games he's been absent in the regular season, and they managed to do the same when he was slowed by knee problems in the playoffs last year.
With the addition of Ray Allen in the offseason and the gradual emergence of Mario Chalmers as a reliable scoring option, Miami would collectively be able to shoulder the blow. But, there is an even easier argument you could make.
That being said, half the battle of winning a championship is getting to the NBA Finals. And with all due respect to the Eastern conference and especially Derrick Rose, the only player in LeBron James' league is in Oklahoma City. And last I checked, they just downgraded their team with the loss of James Harden.
Disaster Scenario #3: Miami Heat lose LeBron James to ACL injury.
How to Deal With This: Okay, so basically this is a doomsday scenario that would require MacGyver-like creativity to get out of. You don't lose a three-time MVP and one of the best players in the history of league without reeling to a major degree. But, believe it or not, this too can be overcome.
After all the late-night drinking and crying into pillows, Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley would arrive at one very fundamental truth—that a team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is still one of the best in the NBA.
But even more so than that, I'd like to remind everyone of an important date in the history of the Miami Heat. October 16, 2000. On this day, former Heat centerpiece Alonzo Mourning announced that he would be sidelined indefinitely with a kidney disease. What made this news even more devastating was that, earlier that summer, Miami built a team that was constructed to complement Mourning's game.
Once the announcement was made, however, the Heat rose to the occasion and players like Eddie Jones, Anthony Mason, Tim Hardaway, and Brian Grant stepped up their games to make up for Mourning's absense. What resulted was an appearance in the playoffs.
So, if a Heat team built around a franchise player can contend, how far could the Heat go with a team consisting of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
By the way—as critics have pointed out for the past two seasons, Wade and LeBron play a similar game.
So, that means that the offense would operate essentially the same way, with shooters around to space the floor so that Wade can slash into the paint. Furthermore, no player has benefited as much from the positionless lineup as Chris Bosh. He has lead the team in scoring in nearly half of its games and is quickly reminding his critics why Miami has three of the best players in the game.
Anaylsis: Miami would need to make a lot of adjustments to overcome the loss of LeBron but, unlike the Bulls, the Heat still have a great team even without their franchise player. Don't forget that part of the reason LeBron is what he is to this team is because they have geared it around his game.
a result, there has been some sacrifice made by Wade and Bosh to let LeBron shine. But, with him gone, they would have an opportunity to adjust back to more prominent roles that they've both long been accustomed to.
You don't think Wade wouldn't be licking his chops to get a chance to show he can still lead a team to a championship with Bosh and a bunch of quality players by his side? Because I do.
At the end of the day, the Heat are way more than the sum of its parts, even if one of those parts is the best player in the NBA.
And that's exactly why they are the favorites to repeat this year.