Call me crazy, but this might the most anticipated Miami Heat season since Lebron James first took his talents to South Beach a little over 4 years ago. For the first time since the planets aligned in that fateful 2010 offseason, the Miami Heat are looking to hit the refresh button and step into a new domain as they try and prove one thing: this team is still a force to be reckoned with… As the Heat start training camp, let’s take a look through a wide-lens view of what we can expect from the team in 2014-2015.
We all know what the Heat lost over the summer. Lebron James has packed his bags for Cleveland and the “Big 3” experiment is no more. It’s to be expected that many Heat fans are still reeling over the loss of the best player on the planet but there is always a silver lining so let’s take some time to look at the bright side for a second here. The fact is the Miami Heat are a true “team” once again. No longer will the rest of the guys have to sacrifice points, minutes, highlights and destinies to the self-proclaimed KING. This season will be about about one thing: basketball.
It almost seems like ancient history when we look back to the days when Chris Bosh was putting up 20+ points and 10+ rebounds a game in an that offense ran through him back in Toronto. Now that LBJ is in CLE, Big Shot Bosh will have a renewed focus on dominating the post down low. With Lebron holding the torch in Miami, the entire offense ran through him and Chris Bosh was simply a facilitator and ultimately he delevoped into more of a open-space three point man as Lebron drew attention underneath the basket. Bosh now has the opportunity to get back to his roots of being a post man and showcase his true talents. He has been given the keys to the castle in Miami (along with a hefty $118 million contract) and his confidence is soaring right about now. Look for the big man to significantly increase his stat line this upcoming season.
Of course, we can’t talk about the Heat without mentioning the hometown hero. Dwyane Wade had a busy offseason. He married his longtime girlfriend Gabrielle Union, he ran his Dwyane Wade Fantasy basketball camps, re-upped with Hublot, appeared on multiple TV outlets and signed a brand new deal with the Miami Heat, proving that loyalty is not just a thing of the past in today’s ever-shifting sports landscape. You can bet your bottom dollar that D-Wade is as amped up as anyone to kick this season off right and prove to all the haters and doubters that he still has plenty left in the tank. The 2013-2014 “maintenance program” is no more. Wade expects to play every game as long as his knees can hold up. As a die-hard D-Wade fan, I can not wait for Wade County to raise its flag once again. The ball will be in his hands more often than not along with the pressure, lights, cameras and expectations that come with it. As a true competitor and flat-out superstar, the man formerly known as “flash” would not have it any other way. Look forward to to seeing #3 play with a big chip on his shoulder this season.
Looking at things from a broader perspective though, what’s really exciting about this team as a whole, is just that… We will be looking at a real “team.” Up-and-coming ballers Shabazz Napier and the high-flying James Ennis will get a chance to prove themselves under the spotlight. The circus-like media spectacle that surrounds Lebron James everywhere he goes will not be present. Coach Erik Spoelstra will be free to take the reigns and make any and all adjustments necessary without the world’s best player breathing down his neck. No more LBJ holding the ball at 3 point line, watching the clock dwindle down to 3 seconds, putting all the team’s eggs in the “hero shot” basket to win a damn game. Guys like Luol Deng and Danny Granger will showcase their proven veteran skills and leadership and all-in-all contribute to a healthy share of success to excel this team forward. Not to mention, fan-favorites like Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Udonis Haslem will be back in action, protecting the rim from attackers.
We most likely won’t be witnessing any 27 game win streaks with this new squad, but then again, we also won’t watch the team suffer the immense pressures of the media, fans, and talking heads of the world after the Heat go on a 2 game losing streak. No longer will hundreds of thousands of bandwagon fans jump on the train when it’s riding high and the skies are clear only to hop off when things get a bit cloudy. Nobody will say “this experiment is a failure” if the Heat get knocked out late in the playoffs. In the sports world, just as it is in the real world, you have to take the good with the bad. Lebron is gone, yes, but the Miami Heat remain strong and steadfast, ready to prove to the world that this ain’t the Lebron James show anymore. This is Miami Heat basketball and this team is ready to face anyone, anywhere and you better be damn sure that they expect to win. And win they will.
The 2014-2015 season will be one for the die-hards, the tried and true, the battle-tested and the all around basketball fans and the best part is Heat fans don’t give a damn if you believe the hype or not because frankly, there isn’t a whole lot of “hype” surrounding the squad at this point. What does surround this team is talent, ball players, fighters and above all; a group of guys with nothing to lose, which is exactly why few teams will be more dangerous in 2014-2015 than the Miami Heat.
Written by Grant Cohen