Alongside Jon Stewart and his recent hosting of President Obama on the Daily Show, entertainment and sports news are always popular stories. The 2010-11 Miami Heat basketball team was assembled with only one goal in mind: winning the NBA championship. For captain Dwayne Wade, who has been with the team since they drafted him out of Marquette in the 2003 NBA draft, this is a chance to return to the stage where he and former teammate Shaquille O'Neal were able to reach the mountaintop, dispatching the Dallas Mavericks on their way to the title. For Heat newcomers LeBron James and Chris Bosh, this is somewhat of a new experience. James reached the Finals in 2007 while a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Bosh never came close to seeing that kind of team success while a member of the Toronto Raptors.
The offseason moves that brought the trio together seem like they were scripted out of some book. All three were high draft picks in 2003, all are good friends, and all of them played together on the United States men's Olympic gold medal winning basketball team in 2008. At the outset of the summer, these three players were looked upon as the top prizes in their free agent class. No one could have imagined that even two of them would end up together on one team anywhere in the league, much less the Miami Heat.
Heat Looks to Catch Boston
Last season Miami was competitive and ended up losing to Boston in the NBA playoffs as the Celtics marched all the way to the NBA Finals. Interestingly enough, that same Boston team also knocked out James' Cavaliers during that playoff run, so he and Wade both may have extra motivation with this year's Miami team to extract a little bit of revenge. The opening game of the new NBA season gave them a great chance to do just that, yet the Heat was thoroughly outplayed in every facet of the game and soundly defeated 88 to 80. It wasn't even a competitive game until a late run in the second half knocked down the deficit.
This early in the season it is unwise to put too much stock into the implications of a game between two teams in terms of what it might mean for their chances going forward. For the Miami Heat, it just showed that they are not yet playing as a cohesive group. More practices and playing time on the court will take care of that and help Miami jell. But they learned a good lesson in team play at the hands of the older and more experienced Celtics, who offered suffocating team defense and unselfish passing on the offensive end to keep the Miami Heat off balance through the entire game.
Miami Heat as Title Contenders
Since the opening game debacle, the Miami squad has put a few wins together, but still appears tentative at times both defensively and offensively. This is a problem they will need to overcome if the Heat is going to compete with Orlando in the Eastern Conference Southeast Division. This is a good team; make no mistake about it. But as for declaring them the next NBA champions, it would not be wise to bet your next standard car insurance or specialized policy like DWI car insurance payment on it. Over the course of the season Wade, James, Bosh, and the others will have to learn to get to know each other and coexist. If they can do this, they may still have a tremendous season and end up in the Finals. If not, it could be a very long year for the Miami Heat and for their instant legion of fair weather fans.