The Road To the NBA Title Still Goes Through the Los Angeles Lakers
And so the LeBron James Saga comes to an end. His decision, for those of you who are still unaware, is the Miami Heat. With the additions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat have assembled what could quite possibly be the Greatest Big Three ever. This, of course, renders the Miami Heat with only four players committed to their roster: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Marion Chalmers (Michael Beasley will be traded to Toronto in a sign-and-trade for Bosh). Miami is left to sign eight players, with an estimate of 16M (according to NBA.com) should all three All-Stars be signed to near-max/max contracts. This may also force Pat Riley back into coaching, seeing as Coach Spoelstra seems to have been given too much food on his plate (although he will probably retained as an Assistant Head Coach). All this tells me that LeBron, Dwayne, and Chris have finally figured out that they won't beat Kobe, Gasol, and the rest of the Lakers by being greedy. Instead, they got desperate in bringing down the latest version of the Laker Dynasty, and joined forces in Miami.
Every fairweathered fan in the NBA has instantly proclaimed the Miami Heat as the NBA Champions of 2010-2011... Hold on a second. Anyone doing that would be getting way ahead of themselves. The Lakers are the two-time defending champion and still have their core of Kobe, Gasol, and Odom(in their primes might I add) with Phil Jackson as their Head Coach. They are going to bring back Derek Fisher, and are retooling their bench as we speak. Why is it that everyone is so ready to scratch them off as the team to beat in 2010-2011?
With a number of Western All-Stars headed to the Eastern Conference, it just makes the road the Lakers have to take to reach the NBA Finals easier. Losing Boozer and Stoudemire effectively stymies the Jazz and the Suns respectively. Elite teams such as Denver, San Antonio, and Dallas have initially made no changes to their core... and where exactly did those players take them last year? The Hornets and Rockets get back Chris Paul and Yao Ming respectively. The Hornets have pretty much the same team, while the Rockets have found themselves back in the fold and regarded as a Western powerhouse. The Thunder, who will probably become the biggest threat to the Lakers, have resigned Kevin Durant. Chances are, the Lakers will only face one team that has a legitimate chance to knock them off in the Western Conference Playoffs next postseason.
Miami has to go through a number of legitimate contenders in the East, namely the Celtics and the Magic, who will give them a run for their money. The Cetics still have one more year left in the tank. Plus, the fact that Perkins is out 'til mid-season makes it plausible that Boston would find itself in a lower seed than expected. Because of that, Miami will have to go through both Orlando and Boston to reach the Finals... The difficulty in this, of course, is in how Miami fills in the other eight roster slots.
Miami has effectively reordered the NBA hierarchy in power by signing LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Despite all this, the Lakers are still the team to beat in 2010-2011. Eventually, whoever comes out of the East still have to wrestle the title from Kobe's grip as the Lakers seem poised to make a 4th straight NBA Finals appearance. The road to the NBA championship is long and grueling, with a final pit-stop in Los Angeles, California.
"We the champs 'til we the champs no more"...
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