Miami Heat shouldn't count their titles before winning a game
There's no doubt that the Miami Heat should be a formidable foe this season. But like most of you, I was a little taken aback when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh had their introductory love-fest and started using two hands to count the number of NBA championships they'd bring to Florida.
We all know how difficult it is to win one title, let alone several in a row. The fact that the Lakers are seeking a three-peat for the second time in less than 10 years is remarkable, as in only Michael Jordan and the Bulls have accomplished that feat since the Bill Russell-led Celtics dominated the 1960s.
There have been great trios in the past that couldn't get it done: the Elgin Baylor-Jerry West-Wilt Chamberlain Lakers, the Julius Erving-Charles Barkley-Moses Malone 76ers, the Hakeen Olajuwon-Clyde Drexler-Charles Barkley Rockets come to mind. I'm sure you might be able to think of others.
While Wade, James and Bosh have familiarity with one another from their days on the national team when they won the 2008 Beijing Olympics (with Kobe Bryant, of course), they will be playing alongside each other with an entirely new cast of supporting characters. And therein lies the biggest hurdle they will have to clear.
While the Heat have some nice pieces to put around them -- retaining power forward Udonis Haslem, who does all the dirty work, signing a sharp-shooter in guard-forward Mike Miller and bringing in serviceable if not spectacular 7-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- the team's depth and cohesiveness will be their Achilles' heel. While pint-sized Eddie House has a title under his belt with the Celtics from 2008 and he can light it up from time to time, does anyone really think he's going to be a vital role player? And reserve point guard Carlos Arroyo? Not a difference-maker. They do have quite a collection of aging big men: IIgauskas, Juwan Howard and Jamaal Magliore. Combined age? About 100. Not good.
Miami does have rookie DaSean Butler, a silky smooth swingman from West Virginia who should have a very good NBA career, starting in about three to four years. And there's third-year guard Mario Chalmers , a solid reserve, but skinny shooting forward James Jones is a liability anywhere but the three-point line. The rest of the roster? Forgettable.
Now, the triumverate of Wade, Bosh and James should be good for 50 wins on their own. They are that talented, although there is only one ball and I'm not the only one that sees that as a problem. In fact, there's plenty of reasons floating around on the Web as to why the Heat will fall short.Which brings us to this conclusion. The Lakers are two-time defending NBA champions that have actually improved their roster and all challengers should fight their way to the top of the standings and into their respective conference finals before talking about multiple championships. Wait, maybe they should win one before talking about it.
Photo: New Miami Heat teammates (from left) Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James greet the masses during an introductory celebration at American Airlines Arena on July 9. Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images