While we’re all experiencing a wave of emotions in the wake of the LeBron James decision, a funny thing happened to the NBA; it has remained relevant well after the season has come to an end.
The phrase, “remained relevant” might even be selling the league short, since over the last week NBA free agency (and more precisely the LeBron saga) has dominated the headlines and captivated even the most casual of sports fans.
The city of Cleveland is burning LeBron jerseys as I write this and basketball fans around the country are experiencing emotions from euphoria to devastation and everything in between.
When you consider that all of this excitement and media coverage has taken place in the second week in July, there’s no doubt that this will be one of the most anticipated NBA seasons in recent memory.
Beyond that, people actually care about what has happened.
Maybe they’re outraged at LeBron, maybe they’ve just mortgaged their house to buy Heat season tickets, or maybe they think Dan Gilbert’s letter to Cavaliers fans is way over the top, but regardless of how they feel, they feel something.
The star-studded Heat frontline of LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will have people talking until the season kicks off in late October, and there’s no doubt that whatever happens after that will keep them talking.
It’s no secret that the NBA has been hemorrhaging cash in recent years and maybe one of the reasons why is because things have gotten stale.
In the 12 years since Michael Jordan won his final title with the Bulls, the Spurs or Lakers have taken home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in nine of these seasons and there was only one season (2006) when neither of these teams was in the Finals.
In other words, NBA fans need something new.
Enter a front-heavy Miami Heat roster that currently looks like that guy who hits the gym six times a week but never works on his lower body.
This newly formed trio engineered by Pat Riley consists of two of the best players in the NBA (LeBron and Wade) and a third who is one of the best low post scorers/rebounders (Bosh).
With LeBron, Wade, and Bosh not only do you have an unbelievably talented (albeit shallow) roster, but there are so many possibilities for this season and beyond.
We’re going to have to see:
-Who the Heat get to fill out their roster considering they still need quite a few players and can barely afford to take LeBron, Wade, and Bosh out to dinner with the remaining cash they have under the cap.
-Whether LeBron/Wade/Bosh will be able to coexist on the same team.
- How they will fare in the regular and postseasons.
- Whether Pat Riley will once again usurp his current head coach and assume the position.
-And ultimately, if the Heat will be able to live up to all of the hype that will follow them around for as long as they have LeBron, Wade, and Bosh on the same team.
The best part is, these are just some of the potential storylines surrounding this team and the season isn’t going to start for another five months.
Probably the biggest reason that this new-look Miami team will be good for the NBA is because they will be polarizing.
Because of how this team was brought together and the way LeBron went about choosing the Heat, there will only be two ways to feel; either you love the Heat or you hate them, there won’t be much of a middle ground.
Some people may say that these three joining forces on the same team is bad for the NBA because there will be too much talent centered in one place.
But when you look around the league, there are plenty of great players who are just waiting to take their shot at the Heat.
The Lakers (who will be gunning for Kobe Bryant’s and Phil Jackson’s second three-peat), the Thunder (with Kevin Durant and an improving supporting cast), the Magic (featuring Dwight Howard), the Celtics (with their original version of the big three), and the Bulls (who shouldn’t be overlooked especially after adding Carlos Boozer) are just a few of the better teams in the NBA who will all be waiting for their chance to take down the three-headed free-agency monster.
Another reason the Heat will be good for the NBA is that they don’t even have to win immediately for it to benefit the league immensely.
We all know that even the best teams need a supporting cast to win a title, and right now it seems that that will be the Heat’s biggest weakness.
Wouldn’t it be fun to watch them struggle (and by struggle I mean a deep playoff run) for a season or two while they put all of the pieces together, and then finally find the right combination which makes them the dominant team we know they can be?
Whether they win or lose, it will make great television, and there are sure to be times when fans on either side of the Heat equation will experience both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Think back to when the NBA was as popular as it’s ever been; Michael Jordan and the Bulls were dominating the league during the '90s. Back then, you either loved Jordan and the way he ripped other teams' hearts out or you hated him because he was ripping your heart out, but either way, you cared.
Now people will care again, either you will love the Heat and the LeBron/Wade/Bosh combo or you will root against them harder than you’ve ever rooted against anyone before. But either way, you will care and you will be watching.