Miami Heat forward Lebron James attempted to predict his future tally of National Basketball Association Finals wins at the official Miami Heat Big 3 preseason presentation to a roaring Miami crowd on late summer night in 2010.
“Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” he said. “And when I say that I really believe it,”
At first, it looked like Lebron would be wrong, as the well-publicized Heat would go on to lose to Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks in six games that year. However, this debacle would be avenged in the 2011-2012 season as pressure mounted on the ever-determined James to get his first ring, and his team destroyed thrice NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the finals. One down, six to go, and the 2012-2013 season will certainly result in a repeat for the star-studded south beach crew.
The only major competition comes in the form of a new rival — the Los Angeles Lakers. With a new Big 3 of their own, Miami forward Chris Bosh called them “better on paper,” than his own squad. With the signing of Dwight Howard, the undisputed best center and arguably the best defender in the league, and two-time MVP Steve Nash on the same side as the ever-tenacious Kobe Bryant, the Lakers made Heat fans shudder. After an 0-8 preseason and a 1-4 start to the year — the Lakers started 0-3 for the first time in 34 years — losing translated into a coaching change. Ex-Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was hired, but if he couldn’t handle the New York roster, how is he supposed to control the two biggest overindulged players in the league, Howard and Bryant?
If D’Antoni couldn’t keep the enigmatic Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire tamed, it will be impossible for him to keep Kobe from lashing out. If it were up to Kobe to decide, he’d be on the sidelines dressed in a suit and tie coaching, taking the ball down court, passing it to himself and getting the block back on defense. How will D’Antoni keep Kobe’s ego in check this year?
Yes, undoubtedly the offense will be smoother as the successful combination of D’Antoni and Nash are reunited, but Los Angeles is already having the same problems that the Heat had: growing pains. Early season tough losses showed a clear weakness in the Heat, and the Lakers are a page ripped out of the same story. Having three guys who always had the ball in their hands on the same team being forced to give it up does not go down easily. Especially for the notorious Kobe, who has a whole breed of memes created on the subject of his desire to hold the ball at all times. Despite all these problems, expect to see them in the finals, based on sheer star power.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Nov. 15 print edition. Francisco Nevas is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org