Don’t worry, Laker faithful.  It’s not that I am rooting for the Miami Heat to win the championship next year.  Far from it.  My hope is that they will be booed excessively on the road.  And in a few days, my blog will state the reasons the Lakers will be successful in their quest for a three-peat.  I just want to present the case for the possibility that the Heat could really win it all.   Let’s look at 3 areas:

  • Coaching
  • Talent
  • Hunger

I observed during George Karl’s absence from the Nuggets playoff series last year a team without direction, basically a chicken with it’s head cut off.  They lacked discipline and focus.  I have always felt that Phil Jackson hasn’t always got the respect he deserves.  His detractors like to point out that he has won with Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant.  They fail to acknowledge that all of these players have been coached in the NBA with the same key teammates, and not achieved the success that they have with Phil.  In the last 20 years, 3 coaches have accounted for 17 championships.  And the 3 coaches with single championships in that span were Pat Riley, Larry Brown and Doc Rivers.  Now Erik Spoelstra is not a proven entity, but you know Riles will step in if the Heat lose 3 games in a row.  So the Heat have plan A and plan B set up for coaching for the season.

The Heat were much more successful, despite cap restrictions,  in developing a roster than I expected.  I thought it would be LeBron, Wade, Bosh and 11 guys that were either as old as the stone age (think Shaq) or no-names.  Instead, they have Udonis Haslem, Eddie House, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Da’Sean Butler, Carlos Arroyo, Joel Anthony, James Jones, Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard, and Zydunas Ilgauskas.  While I don’t believe those guys are the best at their positions, it was more than I thought the Heat would be able to do. 

And I know you’re thinking – can you put a team together like that, have it mesh, and be successful in its first season?  And I am reminded of the Boston Celtics in 2007-2008, when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce.  I think the Heat have a lot to prove this season.  Teams that play the Heat, like those playing the Lakers, will be exerting extra effort because they know they must.  So I don’t think the Heat will break the Lakers streak of 33 straight wins.  Nor do I think they will hold the best single season record.  And I do believe they will lose back to back games this season.  The East got better during the off-season, with key free agents either staying in the East or signing up in that conference.  I don’t see any team in the West that vastly improved their roster.  Although I like the Thunder,  with the Lakers strengthening their bench, I think the Lakers will have an easier time reaching the finals this year.

So this year, I will be rooting for the Lakers and whoever is playing the Heat.  Three-peat time!