The past 4 years have been very enjoyable as a Miami Heat fan ... A very different "enjoyable" than a traditional Miami Heat basketball experience since 1988. They were THE team with THE player that every 9 year-old wanted to root for. I had to include "since 1988" with every statement that I was a Miami Heat fan. It was enjoyable because watching Lebron James playing for YOUR team in his prime almost every other night was just fantastic. Now that phase is over and I appreciate it for what it was.
I am a HeatLifer and totally embrace the next phase. I think back to the summer before Lebron took his talents to South Beach and if you would have told me that Lebron was going back to Cleveland, D. Wade would be staying with the Heat and would be joined by Chris Bosh and Loul Deng -- I would have been very happy. Think about that -- no one thought Lebron was really leaving Cleveland and no one in Miami actually expected him to come. He did - and it was amazing. But - the point is that we have a team that I would have been psyched about 4 years ago. Sure Wade is a lesser version of his 4 years ago self - but he's my guy.
So - I'm actually looking forward to the new phase of Miami Heat fan enjoyment. Rooting for the underdog. Proving media types and haters wrong. While I know it's not truly likely - I do believe the Miami Heat can win the championship this year. Seriously - I think there's a chance - and that's what true fans should always feel like (when they're not in rebuilding years). What's my internal rationale?
- I drink the Wade County kool-aid. I believe D.Wade is gonna give the middle finger to all the doubters for perhaps the last time in his career. The media is talking about how Bosh is gonna be "the guy" ... I think he's gonna be 1B next to Mr. Wades 1A. He may not have 25 PPG, but if he was a starting pitcher - he's going to lead the team in Wins.
- Loul Deng is an all-star. Knock,down shooter, team player, top-tier defender - I hated when the Heat played against him when he was on the Bulls. He'd shut down D.Wade in his prime. Realistic #3 option on a championship team - seriously.
- Spo knows 2015 NBA basketball. He's mentioned in the top tier of coaches but isn't getting that respect heading into this season. Questions about Miami making the Eastern Conference play-offs?? Really? Spo+Wade+Bosh should be good enough for a 4 seed alone.
- Pesky point guards. Cole, Napier, and Chalmers off the bench play their role. They all have crazy confidence and are relentless. PG by committee is a trend right now in the NBA and I think tough defender/knock down shooters with penetration ability is all these guys need to do and they've proven they can do it.
- Breakout player: James Ennis. Of course there's a chance he's another NBA summer league mirage - but dude has got true offensive skills and is 6'7''. I believe he's gonna be an amazing change-of-pace player for the 15 minutes Wade sits every game...
- Veteran bigs. I like Josh McRoberts fit in a Spolstra heavy pass offense. Birdman is proven asset. Haslem I'm less sold on - but every time I do that - he plays a solid role.
- Reminder: Eastern conference is still the Eastern conference. 9 of the other 14 teams are projected to be under .500 win percentage.
- What are we missing? 3 point shooting. Wishful thinking that the Heat will start out like 10-1 and Ray Allen realizes that they've got a shot and joins up. Danny Granger not gonna cut it I fear... I don't mind the "risk/reward" shot in signing him - but from what I've seen thus far - I think his best basketball is in his rear-view. Chalmers really represents the guy you'd go to in the final few seconds to hit a 3 right now. Not ideal. (although we all know Bosh will be taking the corner 3 80% of the time in those instances).
Let's Go Heat!!