Miami Heat: Defending Champs Rise While Enemies Continue to Falter
Coming off a thrilling victory against the San Antonio Spurs, the Miami Heat sit atop the throne in the NBA with the best record, the best player, the best team, and the best upper management.
All that's missing now, really, is just a juicy subplot to sustain interest in a league that has been completely turned on its face by a new dynasty.
For that much, we all lamented Miami's loss last week against the under-manned Chicago Bulls, not because it gave the league hope that the Heat were beatable, but rather that they can only be measured at this point against their predecessors.
As for their current rivals, well, that's been a joy to watch in its own right.
While no true basketball fan took comfort in watching Rajon Rondo go down for the season, it was gratifying to watch the Celtics surge in the standings shortly thereafter.
Such is the case when the best player on your team is a franchise talent but also a shell of a leader.
And then there's Dallas Mavericks. A team that felt so validated by the fact that they "beat" Miami in the NBA Finals two years ago that they tore their roster to shreds during the following summer.
Moreover, at the moment, they are in a heated three-way battle with the media circus Los Angeles Lakers and the snore-worthy Utah Jazz, fighting for the right to get swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
But alas, that's only the tip of the comedy iceberg. Tell me what's funnier: the fact that a professional sports team made a pact not to shave until their team reached .500, or that their best player, who so happens to be a German, is starting to look like a Rabbi?
Then there's the Indiana Pacers. A team that, over the summer, committed to a max deal for Roy Hibbert in an era of basketball where big men have become extinct.
And, no, that's not a good thing. Because, for as deep, long and talented as the Pacers are, there isn't one franchise talent among them.
What about the Chicago Bulls? A team with a lot of heart and a great coach. But any pseudo-psychological edge they gained by beating the Heat last week while missing two of its best players is still not enough to overcome the hurdle bestowed upon them by the fact that Derrick Rose's own brother chastised the team for not getting him better help.
Finally, there is the OKC Thunder. Should Heat fans smile because Miami beat them both times during this regular season and has won its last seven games in a row against them?
They should smile because, while the original Thunder big three were torn apart due to money, this Heat team was brought together by their sacrifice of it.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen all took pay cuts to be a part of something great.
I was there, in American Airlines Arena, when LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh were introduced as teammates to the world back in the summer of 2010, with not a thought in my mind of the kind of resentment it would stir among its opposing teams and their fan bases.
I was too blinded by excitement.
And once June comes and goes, something tells me the rest of the NBA world will finally join me.
Well, except those in Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Oklahoma City and Indiana that is.
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