I see no reason to get overly excited now about the 2013-14 NBA season. As usual, it will have its dramatic moments, but the drama won’t be about which team will win the title.
One day from the opening tipoff, I’m resigned to giving the champion’s trophy to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, because the defending champs did nothing but improve in an off-season that saw Grade A talent moved about like kings on a checkerboard.
Although teams like the Brooklyn Nets and the Houston Rockets made significant upgrades, none did nearly enough to allow any to dream of dethroning the Heat.
For not only did the 28-year-old LeBron continue to polish his skills as he moves into the thick of his hoops prime, he and the Heat haven’t seen marque names in the Eastern Conference keep pace.
In Boston, Coach Brad Stevens, fresh from the college ranks, inherits a Celtic team that’s being rebuilt from the floor up, and the New York Knicks, a legit pretender for second-best team in the conference, moved another season closer to sporting an entire roster made up of senior citizens.
Whether you like the Heat or not, they represent the best team the league has seen since the golden days of the Los Angeles Lakers – the Magic Johnson Lakers and not the Kobe Bryant Lakers.
Adding injury-prone center Greg Oden gives the Heat inside depth the team didn’t have, and with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh having accepted their roles as complementary pieces, the team is steadier and deeper now than at any time since LeBron loaded his gear and arrived at South Beach.
That might be good news for the NBA, because the league has a team that people aren’t ambivalent about. They are the Celtics of the Bill Russell era: a winning machine.
As much as sports fans love to watch greatness, they also root for rivalries like Russell’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers and Larry Bird’s Celtics had throughout their glory years.
LeBron’s Heat has no rival – not a single team that can match it in talent or present any real threat to stop a three-peat.
I guess that’s not a bad thing, because this great team will ensure NBA fans get to watch plenty of LeBron. Hate of love LeBron, you have to respect what he has been able to do in creating a career that has so far defined the millennium.
It's LeBron, not Kobe, that is player of this millennium, and he is posed to prove that great talent translates into great theater, which should be the story of the 2013-14 season: great theater.
Want to see a fistfight for the championship rings? Not this season. Wait until somebody else comes into the NBA to challenge LeBron’s reign as the finest player of his generation.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)