Bleacher Creatures, I have a bit of a problem.
I have been a bona fide fan of the Miami Heat since the inaugural season in 1988. I lived in Detroit, but the announcement of the expansion Heat grabbed me by the figurative collar and never let me go! I played with the team on Lakers vs. Blazers, and every Sega, PlayStation, and Xbox system since.
I remember the drafting of Rony Seikaly and thinking, "Getting a solid Center is a good start for this franchise." I remember Glen Rice, Sherman Douglas, Kevin Edwards, Steve Smith, Bimbo Coles, Willie Burton (remember his 50 point game?), et. al. and saying, "This team is headed places."
I can recall the Alonzo Mourning signing, the botched Juwan Howard deal, the epic clashes with the New York Knicks, the signing of Elton Brand that was matched by the Clippers (did D. Sterling really come off the dime?) followed by the Lamar Odom steal and saying, "The 21st Century will be owned by the Heat!"
Of course, I can recall the Shaq acquisition and subsequent star turn by Dwyane Wade in the 2006 Finals. And I recall the eventual downfall of that group, starting with D. Wade's separated shoulder the following season.
After this period filled with malaise, how exactly am I supposed to deal with the Titanic conflict over one of my favorite teams embarking on a historic free agent signing period? It is unheard what Kaiser Riley was able to pull off with the now-over scrutinized signings of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, along with a cast of thousands.
I love parity.
I love the concept of every city in the League having their own superstars.
I hate the concept of one team hoarding all of the best players.
But I have always loved the Heat.
This 2010-11 season will be interesting, as everyone has already forecasted that this "Superfriends" team of Wade, James & Bosh will meet the Lakers in the Finals. Commissioner David Stern is probably already salivating with the idea of South Beach vs. Hollywood in June.
I have always loved the Heat (where have you gone, Grant Long?), but am not sure if I can love this version of My Miami Heat.
A conundrum, indeed.
But wait. What if the Clash of the Titans does not take place?
I know. Starting tomorrow, I will take a look at the teams capable of beating both and stopping this contest that threatens to tilt the world of the NBA on a new axis.
Stay tuned, this will be fun...