For the past two seasons, NBA fans have eagerly awaited a Finals matchup between Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers, and each year it has failed to materialize.
The 2010-11 NBA season will be filled with the same type of anticipation of a James and Bryant showdown in the Finals, except this time James is expected to bring dinner guests.
The Miami Heat's ability to land James and Chris Bosh in free agency to pair alongside Dwyane Wade has instantly made Miami the favorite to meet the Lakers in the 2011 NBA Finals.
A Lakers-Heat Finals would arguably be the most viewed series in the history of the NBA, not to mention the realization of a dream for commissioner David Stern.
It would come with all the hype, glitter, and manufactured drama anyone can ever hope for, but before we start preparing for bi-coastal war, shouldn't Miami get a chance to prove they are worthy of the praise?
This is the point where Heat fans will chalk this up as another example of a writer hating on their team, or doubting their ability to excel despite the drama surrounding them.
Well, they would be partly correct.
I'm not hating on the Heat, and any person would be crazy not to recognize the potential of a team that includes two of the top three players in the game today, but they still have yet to play a game.
Miami could end up being the greatest thing to happen since sliced bread was introduced, but what evidence of this do we have beyond their individual talents, and the fact they enjoy each other's company?
Some people like to point to the 2008 Olympics as proof of the super trio's potential chemistry, but those same people often tend to leave out the "other" significant player that helped make the 2008 Olympics successful.
Bryant was the designated defensive stopper of that team, and it was Bryant's heroics in the title game against Spain that clinched the gold for the Americans.
Even if the Heat do find the type of chemistry needed to win NBA championships, there are still other factors that could derail their quest for a title.
Pat Riley did a pretty good job of surrounding Bosh, James, and Wade with the best talent the Heat could afford, but there are still questions regarding their interior players and their guards.
Outside of Bosh, the Heat's roster has very few post players who would strike fear in the hearts of teams around the NBA, and the point guard position has already been declared one of Miami's few weaknesses.
Lakers' fans and Heat fans probably share the title of the NBA's most obnoxious group, but the Lakers fans' conceit is based on the results of the past three seasons, not the potential for 2010-11.
It's perfectly reasonable to assume the Lakers have a strong shot at reaching the Finals next season, because that has been their destination since Pau Gasol joined the team.
It's easy to understand why the Lakers are prohibitive favorites to win next season's championship in the eyes of everyone except Las Vegas and Heat fans, because they have won the last two.
Miami does not have that type of legacy to stand on, and the Heat's playoff path will likely be a little more difficult than the Lakers as well.
The Western Conference may be better than the East from top to bottom, but the Lakers will not have to face a team like Boston or Orlando just for the privilege of playing in the Finals.
Escaping the West will not be a simple task for the Lakers, but considering they have won the conference the past three years, and they improved in the offseason, it becomes easier to see them doing it again.
Once again that is a prediction based on the facts of the recent past, and in Miami's case the facts say Boston will not easily surrender their Eastern Conference championship of 2010.
Some fans feel Stern will make it a point to ensure Miami and Los Angeles meet in the Finals, but recent history doesn't support that claim.
Conspiracy theories run rampant in the NBA, but if this were true, then James' Cavaliers and Bryant's Lakers would have met at least once in the past two seasons.
But, the Finals participants were decided on the basketball court and not in the commissioner's office, so there is little reason to think this season would be any different.
By no means is this an indictment against Miami, because I feel they will be in the thick of the Eastern Conference race, and are a legitimate contender for the NBA championship next season.
But, before penciling them in for a spot in the Finals, shouldn't they at least play one regular season game first?
The Heat may be the most dominant team ever assembled in the NBA, and they may very well break the Chicago Bulls' hallowed regular season record of 72 games won, but they can't do it in the offseason.