Westbrook and Durant, Paul George, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, etc.; what do these guys need to do for this season to be considered a "success"? What happens if they fall short?
There are plenty of perks to being a stud in the NBA by the time your 25th birthday rolls around. The money's great, the expectations are relatively low, hopes are high and whatever mistakes you make can be chalked up to "youthful exuberance" and "inexperience."
But everything changes once you've had a sip of the good stuff—and once you've given folks a taste of your own capabilities. All-Star selections and All-NBA nods are used against you when your team falls flat. The smallest of stumbles are magnified and expounded upon during scathing discussions of "Will he or won't he?" More money and more success entails more pressure to perform at an even higher level and to deliver more memorable results.
No wonder Icarus never made it all the way to the sun. The dude couldn't handle the heat!
(And not just the sort comes from Miami.)
That heat will be all too familiar to these 20-something superstars in 2013-14. The honeymoon is over; now's the time for them to step up.
And to take their teammates with them.