'Twas July 8th of 2010, still far from Christmas, when Miami Heat fans got an early Christmas present. I wouldn't doubt it if the night sightings of a certain someone in his sleigh followed by echos of ho-ho-ho were reported over the skyline of South Beach.
After LeBron's "The Decision" aired, where he announced his choice to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Co., immediate chatters of a dynasty and talks of multiple championships surfaced. Add Chris Bosh, and many suggested just cancelling the next five seasons and handing the Heat a handful of rings.
While the Miami Heat's expectations rapidly grew to an enormous amount, so did the freshly painted target on their back. They really didn't help themselves though.
At the team's preseason introductory extravaganza at American Airlines Arena, "The Three Kings" stage entrance was something you'd expect to see at a Lady Gaga concert.
Things turned from bad to worse when Dwyane Wade proclaimed that they have formed "arguably, the best trio to ever play the game of basketball." Really? I can think of just plain duos who I'd much rather have than these three. Magic and Kareem, Jordan and Pippen, Kobe and Shaq in their prime just to name a few.
Next, when LeBron James was asked about their championship chances, the determined James replied by stating that they will win "NOT ONE, NOT TWO, NOT THREE...NOT FOUR...NOT FIVE...NOT SIX...NOT SEVEN" NBA championships. Confident feller isn't he?
Well, judging by the Miami Heat's first season in which they were able to grab the No. 2 seed, and spear through to the NBA Finals with only three losses, all signs point toward the Heat quite possibly being the next great dynasty.
So what stands in Miami's way en route to the aforementioned championships LeBron has alluded to? Ladies and gentlemen, please let me re-introduce to you, the New York Knickerbockers.
This might come as a bold statement being that the Knicks just recently ended their seven-year playoff drought, recorded their first winning season in 10 years and still have not won a playoff game in 10 years.
Regardless though, the only way to go now is up. Thanks to the preseason and midseason acquisitions of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Landry Fields (via draft), the basketball mecca is back in the mix.
Give this team a full offseason and preseason together, like the Miami Heat had, and they will prove much better than a six seed in the top-heavy Eastern Conference.
Please note that I am NOT proposing that the current Knicks roster could beat the Miami Heat in a seven-game series. You have to understand that New York's roster is still under construction. But look no further than the summer of 2012 for completion.
This free-agency class includes players such as Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, and Chris Paul. Depending on your teams needs, the most highly touted players on this list are either Dwight Howard or Chris Paul.
Over Or Under? The Heat Will Win 2 Championships.
The main focus of the Knicks should, and will be, on signing one of the league's premier point guards in Chris Paul. The Knicks front office flirted frequently with offers in trying to acquire Chris Paul before this season kicked off and even all the way to the trade deadline into mid February.
One of New York's biggest assets as far as recruiting Chris Paul will be none other than Carmelo Anthony. Like James and Wade, Anthony and Paul have a friendship that long surpasses the confines of the basketball court. Chris Paul even made a toast at Carmelo Anthony's wedding last year in July, stating that "we will form our own big three", speaking to Anthony and Stoudemire of course.
Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, vs. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James. Kind of sounds like a streetball fantasy video game doesn't it? Almost too good to be true, but this matchup will soon produce the eastern conference representative of "NOT ONE, NOT TWO, NOT THREE...NOT FOUR...NOT FIVE", but possibly the next six championships.
Now what are some things in the way of this transpiring? Well, the biggest one is quite possibly the new collective bargaining agreement, or the lack thereof. Hopefully, the NBA takes a long hard look at what is currently happening with the NFL and its lockout and resolves this issue before the NBA follows suit.
So what about the top-seeded young and super-talented Chicago Bulls? Or how about the OKC Thunder for whom years of success seem inevitable? Have I mentioned the Orlando Magic and their man-child Dwight Howard?
And don't think I have forgotten about the L.A. Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks or Boston Celtics. But unless Herodotus points these respective teams to the fountain of youth, their demise makes for an easy explanation: age.
While the Chicago Bulls have the reigning MVP in Derek Rose, and boast the leagues best record, the Bulls and Rose seem to just have met their match in the Heat and James. LeBron proved during their five-game series that he, and not Rose, should have garnered MVP honors.
Though Kevin Durant could arguably be the league's best player for this remaining decade, the Thunder just lack the supporting cast necessary to win it all, even once matured. When your second-best player sometimes becomes your biggest liability, wins will be too hard to come by.
To believe that Dwight Howard will remain in Orlando beyond the summer of 2012 would be considered very optimistic (for Magic fans). Forget about Howard re-signing with the Magic in '12, the trade talks surrounding the former No. 1 overall pick are overwhelming and could possibly lead to his departure by next season.
So get ready for a rekindled Knicks-Heat rivalry reminiscent of the late 90s, where the rivalry managed to become the only matchup to meet in the play-offs four consecutive years wherein each year every series was played out to the max amount of games possible (best-of-five and best-of-seven series).
Instead of PJ Brown body slamming Charlie Ward, imagine Udonis Haslem slamming Chris Paul. Remember the fight between Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning? How about Amar'e Stoudemire trading blows with Chris Bosh? And how about the never fading image of Jeff Van Gundy getting dragged while trying to grab and hold back Alonzo Mourning during a brawl? Can you see LeBron James taking Mike D'Antoni for a ride?
The NBA is in for a thrill. The Miami Heat better grab the two rings that are available to them before New York's big three is intact. It will feel like Christmas every time these two meet. So grab some eggnog, enjoy your gingerbread and remember not to eat all your candy canes in one day.