Guest blogger, Ray Lau.
On July 28, 2010, Sports Illustrated released a list titled “the 25 Most Hated Teams of All Time.” Of course, the usually suspects were there; the “Almost Perfect” Patriots, the “Bad Boys” Pistons of the 80s, and topping the list was the Jimmy Johnson led “86 Hurricanes, who were infamously upset by Penn State in the National Championship game. Surprisingly, the 2010-2011 Miami Heat team cracked the list at #25, WITHOUT PLAYING A SINGLE GAME. (Just for the record, there were 3 Miami teams on that list. Guess where Sports Illustrated headquarters is? New York City. Look, just because Miami has better weather than New York does not mean we deserve this hate.) Even though I don’t agree with it, I can understand the hate from anyone who is not a Heat fan. The Heat just pulled one of the most earth-shattering off-seasons in the history of the NBA by landing a 2-time MVP in Lebron James, an All-Star power forward in Chris Bosh, and re-signing a franchise player in Dwayne Wade, while your team did nothing, or close to nothing (See: Stoudemire, Amare). The Heat are a perfect target for hate.
The fear is that the Heat has just assembled a fantasy basketball team in reality, and will easily cruise to an NBA title. But, we all know championships aren’t won in the off-season. So, how will the Heat do this season?
Jeff Van Gundy, former NBA head coach and current ABC/ESPN analyst, thinks they can break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72-win record.
"I would think that everybody would think they would have a great shot at it," said Van Gundy. "I don't know if I said they will or they have a great chance, whatever I said, I just think if they're healthy, the discrepancy between their talent level and the next level is so great, that I just don't see how they lose games. I think they're that good."
I am not sure if the Heat will break the 72-win record or not. But if Lebron James can win 61 games with Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, imagine what he could do with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Either way, the Heat’s goal is not to set regular season records, but NBA championships. That is what Pat Riley sold the three superstars when free agency began.
The Heat’s biggest opposition in the East are the Magic and the Celtics. The Magic have strengths where the Heat have weaknesses. Joel Anthony is an undersized NBA center and figures to have a tough match-up against Dwight Howard . At point guard, the Magic have an obvious advantage with the offensive-minded Jameer Nelson. Mario Chalmer’s defense is suspect, to say the least, as he struggles to contain quick point guards off the dribble. The Celtics pose similar problems, with an even bigger front-court rotation featuring Kendrick Perkins, the O’Neal brothers, Shaq and Jermaine, Glen Davis and perhaps the quickest point guard in the league, Rajon Rondo. And let's not forget about the "Original" Big Three, Ray Allen Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. In the west, assuming that the Lakers will defend their title, pose a greater challenge. Not only does LA have the size with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, they have the defensive stopper in Ron Artest, and one of the best closers in the league in Kobe Bryant.
With challenges like these, it is definitely not a given that the Heat win an NBA title this year. But if they are able to stay healthy and develop good team chemistry, the Heat are certainly one of the favorites to win an NBA championship, no matter how hated they are.
*image courtesy of Sports Illustrated
*Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the LadyBallers Organization/Social Network.