5 Things Every Fan Needs to Know About Miami Heat for 2013-14 Season
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There are teams and then there are juggernauts.
The Miami Heat are without question the latter, and whether you're rooting for their continued dominance or clamoring for them to run into catastrophe, there are a couple things you must be aware of if you call yourself an NBA fan.
Love 'em or hate 'em, they're keeping us entertained, and a new season will provide us, the fans, with more storylines.
Here's five must-know things for the Miami Heat's 2013-14 season.
The Return of D-Wade
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Dwyane Wade in his prime was mesmerizing.
Even if you neither cared nor knew a thing about basketball, if you happened to casually glance at a TV with a Heat game on, chances are you'd stop what you were doing just to watch him pull off a dazzling maneuver.
He's a once-in-a-generation type player—a monstrous athlete with the right combination of intellect and fundamental practicality.
Unfortunately, his greatness has been stymied by sporadic injuries throughout his playing career.
Last year we saw the second-lowest points per game in his career. While he has evolved into more of a complementary player than anything else, some Heat fans can't help but miss the days when D-Wade was healthy and still running things all on his lonesome.
His declining points per game is no random occurrence—it's clear he's a step slower from the various joint problems, and yes, Father Time isn't helping his cause, either.
Those hoping he can reverse the effects aging and injuries, fear not: According to recent reports (courtesy of NBCSports.com), Wade is working with legendary trainer, Tim Grover.
This isn't the first time he's worked with Grover, either. Back in 2008-09, Wade bounced back from a brutal 2007-08 campaign to have arguably his greatest individual season thanks in large part to his time spent with Grover in the offseason.
If you've thought about counting Wade out, oh no. Don't do it, please don't do it.
This season we might see an explosive return to form from Wade, and if it happens, the Heat could be even more unstoppable than they already are.
They Are Still the Favorites
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Not everyone has a financial stake in NBA games, but those who do already know that the Heat are clear-cut favorites (odds courtesy of SportsBetting.ag) to win the championship this upcoming season.
Sure, the odds seem somewhat obvious considering the diluted Eastern Conference and the Heat roster remaining intact, but when oddsmakers set the numbers, they're usually sharp.
We're certainly not advocating that you risk your money set aside to pay off student loans on the Heat three-peating, but hey, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad bet considering how good the Heat are.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the boys are still ready to go. And while the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and re-tooled New Jersey Nets pose threats, don't count on any of the aforementioned squads knocking the champs off the top.
Whether you despise the Heat or love them, you have to love the current NBA atmosphere. The pressure to keep winning mounts even higher for Miami, and that means those aiming for their crowns will be gunning that much harder.
No matter what happens, understand they are favored for a reason: They are that good.
LeBron James Eyes a Fifth MVP
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
As NBA fans, we often compare our contemporary greats to the greats of the past, but now, those comparisons will be a little more eerie.
The water cooler squabbles and barbershop arguments will only get crazier if LeBron James does the unthinkable and wins a fifth championship. Bill Russell and Michael Jordan are the only players to ever win five MVP awards in their careers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had six).
Two back-to-back championships and back-to-back Finals MVPs are unquestionably legendary feats. If LeBron were to achieve five MVPs it would be incredible for him as an individual, Miami as a franchise and the sport of basketball as a whole.
For years, LeBron has been much-maligned for his missteps here and there, but it's become virtually impossible to discredit his achievements.
He's still in the prime of his career, and he's only going to get better, so if he does end up making history, you definitely don't want to miss it.
The Birdman Is Cleared for Takeoff
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Some of our readers might be thinking we're about to discuss Lil Wayne's daddy, but no, we're not talking about that Birdman: Chris Andersen.
Mostly known for his unique haircut, flamboyant gestures and flashy tattoos, he also deserves some credit for his game.
Andersen is a competent big man with solid defensive instincts, and he's the rare combination of entertainment and productivity in one package.
Whether it's a fearsome scream after a weak-side block or his deceptive athleticism, Birdman is a must-watch player on the Miami Heat's roster.
Last season he was a mid- to late-season acquisition, but now, we get to see the Birdman in all of his splendor for an entire season start to finish.
His versatility on the defensive end of the ball was a big help throughout Miami's numerous playoff battles last season. Without his help, who knows if Miami would've withstood the pounding onslaught from the likes of an Indiana or San Antonio.
The Roy Hibberts and Tim Duncans of the world are still lurking about, but they won't have ultimate success against Miami if the Birdman has anything to say about it.
Greg Oden Wants to Prove You Wrong
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It's not often that you get a chance at redemption, especially if mostly everybody forgets your name.
This is the curious case of Gregory Oden, former first overall pick by the Portland Trailblazers.
After numerous horrific knee injuries, Oden has been out of action for the past few years. In that time he's become pretty much forgotten in most circles, especially in the media.
Even now, you seldom hear his name uttered anywhere despite signing a one-year contract with the Miami Heat (courtesy of ESPN.com).
There's a reason you don't hear his name: It's because mostly everybody has forgotten about him, but that might all change this season.
If Oden pans out for Miami, their already unfair roster would become that much more unfair.
For years, one of Miami's biggest weaknesses was their lack of frontcourt depth and size.
If Oden's knees hold up, they address two of their biggest issues—and they also help a young man get his career back on track.
The Miami Heat are familiar with doubt and hate. They embrace it.
We saw a player in LeBron James with all of the talent in the world face the crushing pressure of fan expectations and media scrutiny. With one championship season, he turned their spiteful murmurs into silence.
His teammates weren't immune to the criticism either, and because they collectively endured the trial by fire they are that much stronger as a collective.
Greg Oden hopes to get stronger physically and mentally, and he couldn't have picked a better team to do it on.
It might end up as a mere footnote in the grand scheme of this upcoming season, but Greg Oden's comeback story certainly deserves a lot more attention than it's getting.