The Dwight Howard blockbuster trade has got even the reigning NBA Champions, the Miami Heat on the ropes. In a radio appearance in South Florida (WQAM), Heat forward Chris Bosh said that the Lakers “have the best team on paper in the West and probably in the league”. Bosh has always been candid in media appearances, so it should not surprise anybody that he chose to state the truth.
The Lakers have the best team in the NBA, on paper. But of course championships are not won on paper, a painful reality that Bosh knows only too well after the tumultuous 2010-11 Miami Heat season that turned the NBA into a circus. Bosh understands what the Lakers are going to face next season and these remarks are somewhat ironic. It’s as if he’s sending a message to the Lakers: just you wait, Kobe & co., till you lose four straight next season. The collective wrath of the United States of America will rain down upon you. Make no mistake; all Heat players would echo Bosh’s views if that meant the media would get off their backs. Many would say that the 2010-11 Heat faced media and public scrutiny of the kind that no team has ever faced. And now it’s the Lakers’ turn, implies Bosh. Good luck.
The Lakers, in many ways, are currently where the Heat were after signing the Big Three. Stacked roster, favourites to win the championship in a universe where chemistry does not matter yet unsure of how to meet Shaq-sized expectations. ESPN’s J. A. Adande noted that Dwight did not mention the word ‘championship’ more than once in his introductory press conference. Dwight doesn’t want to promise anything; he’s seen the pressure that came along with LeBron’s proclamation of “not five, not six…” and wants no part of that. Dwight likes fooling around, having fun and being the big goof everybody loves. Will he function at the competitive level Kobe expects of his teammates? How desperate is Dwight for a title?
That being said, there’s no way any basketball fan is not expecting a Heat-Lakers Finals next season. That’s simply how it’s got to be. Kobe’s at the end of the line and desperately wants No. 6. LeBron is now earning legitimate comparisons to Jordan at the age of 27. Dwight Howard’s the NBA’s new Vince McMahon, Steve Nash is among the greatest to never win a championship and Chris Bosh and Paul Gasol will once again fight to prove their manhoods. A Heat-Lakers match would feature Bron, Kobe, Wade, Bosh, Nash, Howard, Gasol, Ray Allen, World Peace, Antawn Jamison and Rashard Lewis. That’s eight All Stars, one former Defensive Player of the Year (World Peace) and one guy who played for Team USA (Jamison). Heat-Lakers would be an instant classic in a way that perhaps no other series in this decade or the next has the potential to be. And Chris Bosh knows and wants it; he wants to be a part of history in a way that perhaps players from no other teams in the current NBA could be.
“It’s even better to think about we can possibly play them in a classic series one day, with everything on the line”, said Bosh during the same radio show. “It’s difficult not to envision something special with that team”.
That’s exactly why every fan should be rooting for the Lakers. The Heat will sleepwalk into the Finals this year; their stiffest opposition will come from a team at least two years past its expiry date (Celtics). Heart and determination can get you only so far. I’m not sold that OKC will present a real challenge to the Heat. The Thunder play much the same style that the Heat do, a fast paced, disruptive style heavy on perimeter play and athleticism. The Heat are, quite simply, much better than the Thunder at that style. In a match-up with the Lakers, however, the Heat would start as underdogs. With Howard, the Lakers would play a more traditional game trying to make use of their significant size advantage, while the Heat would try to beat them with speed. In many ways, the match-up would represent two sides of the offense-shift in the NBA from the 80s to the 2000s; post game versus perimeter game.
“We’re one of the most versatile teams in the NBA. So, I mean, we can play small, but as long as we win that rebounding battle, that’s all that’s important. With that said, they’re a very big team, but we’re very fast, so something’s got to give.”
Bosh got it spot on; when two juggernauts, the biggest of a Super Team era face off, something’s got to give. And for the love of basketball, you have to be rooting for it to happen.