Now that Dwight Howard is a Laker, let’s watch as the world engages in hyperbole regarding an NBA championship that won’t be won for another ten months.
The annual consensus has been that the Miami Heat are the favorites to win the NBA title every June. In 2010, it was based on the coming together of three All-Stars in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. In 2011, they were favored because the hardships of losing an NBA Finals to an underdog would breed hunger. This year, it’s all on them winning the title and inevitably defending it.
The Miami Heat have the talent to repeat and build a dynasty simply because LeBron James by himself changes the fortunes of any franchise (even the YMCA league champion Bobcats) but that makes nothing a forgone conclusion.
The same OKC Thunder that they beat for the title this past June still has Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The Lakers retooling with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol is at nothing to sneeze at. With that being said, there is also a lesson in humility in being presumptive considering that’s what sealed the Heat’s fate in 2011.
LeBron James’ performance in the past 2012 NBA playoffs was nothing short of legendary, it left room for no skepticism or criticism, but his hunger was bred by years of struggling to climb the same mountain that the league’s other great players are trying to topple.
Kobe’s hunger for a sixth title is unquestioned, that’s why Mitch Kupchak is always so shrewd in his dealings when it comes to retooling for another run. Steve Nash’s ever-efficient skillset isn’t in Los Angeles just for fun, he came short of his first NBA Finals two years ago and isn’t still shooting 50% from the field, 43% from three and 90% from the line just to go home early. Dwight Howard in purple and gold isn’t just for the Lakers to stake claim to another legendary big man, Howard wanted to leave Orlando for the same reason he may eventually love being in Los Angeles, he wants a chance at an NBA title.
Kevin Durant’s performance in the NBA Finals was worthy of more recognition than it actually got. In averaging 30.6 points, 6 boards while shooting 55% from the field and 39% from three, Durant established himself as the second-best player in the NBA. That’s WITH an All-NBA point guard in Russell coupled with Sixth Man of the Year James Harden and “just” the guy who finished second in Defensive Player of the Year, Serge Ibaka.
Although the Finals were over five games and the last game was nothing short of ugly, selling the Thunder short by assuming that would repeat itself is nothing short of cheap.
Assuming the height, strength and athleticism of Dwight Howard wouldn’t play to any advantage of the Lakers is asinine. The addition of Howard at the Heat’s weakest position, center, is something to worry about consider Howard’s ability to draw fouls can pay to a huge advantage.
There is no way of predicting the NBA, that’s what makes this league. No one thought Steve Nash would be a Laker, who would after years of playoff battles versus Kobe Bryant?
No one had the slightest inkling that LeBron would have left the Cavaliers in 2010, let alone become a member of the Heat. Who predicted Dirk Nowitzki beating LeBron, Wade and Bosh for his first title after blowing a 23-point fourth quarter lead in the first round of those same playoffs?
There isn’t a way to pretend the Heat winning another title is a forgone conclusion, as is there is no way to say that the Lakers will win simply because they added the most efficient point guard ever and most dominant center of this generation.
The Thunder’s recipe for success has proven to not be enough, it’s also shown it has the ability, hunger and potential to prove itself worthy of a title, just as the Heat did.
Every contending team has reason to believe they’re the team to beat, every team also has reason and history to see that nothing is promised. That’s the perspective to keep with the Miami Heat. There isn’t much wrong you can say about the Heat’s roster and chances of reaching the mountain top, but taking a look around the NBA will serve as a reminder that you can say the same about so many other teams.
That’s the fun in the NBA, experiencing the moments as they happen. If every season was going to go as fans scripted in their head then we wouldn’t have waited so long to crown LeBron James as a champion.
Happy hyperbole, fans.Back to the Los Angeles Lakers Newsfeed