While the 2010-2011 NBA season is just getting underway, it doesn’t even feel like it left. Ever since LeBron James announced on The Decision back in July that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach,” the NBA hype machine has been firing pretty steady on all cylinders.
E!SPN immediately rounded up the troops, airing the arrival party of Chris Bosh and LeBron James as they joined forces with Dwyane Wade in Miami. They then launched the Heat Index — an entire section of the E!SPN website dedicated to season-long coverage of Miami’s newly-formed trio. It should’ve been called “The Heat Stroke Index” for the shameless petting at work.
In the wake of The Decision announcement, the Miami Heat became the story, and the official “it” team of the NBA. The debate was underway, could and would the Miami Heat dethrone the 1995-1996 Championship-winning Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls that won an NBA single-season record of 72 games. It wasn’t a matter of if the Heat would win rings, it was a matter of how many.
While LeBron was busy taking “mental notes” of his post-Decision critics, Bosh found a second home on Twitter, and Wade took to cleaning up after a messy divorce settlement, there were other notable offseason developments.
Tim Duncan found himself a Wii Fit version of Dungeons and Dragons, slimming down 15 paladin pounds. He skipped sweating the Decision in favor of cleaning his 4 NBA Championship rings, 3 Finals MVPs, and 2 regular season MVPs.
Manu Ginobili re-signed a 3-year $38.9 million contract. Became a first-time father to twin sons, and declined participation on the Argentina National Team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Tony Parker recently signed a 4-year $50 million contract extension, keeping him in the Silver-and-Black four years, beyond this season. Like Manu, Parker skipped the FIBA World Championship.
Richard Jefferson opted out of the $15 million final year of his contract, and signed a new, 4-year $38.9 million contract with the Spurs. Jefferson spent his summer in the gym with Coach Popovich, going back to the basics.
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers spent his summer traveling to the World Cup in South Africa, resting, and clearing space on his dresser for his fifth and newest NBA Championship ring.
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t slow down from his 2009-2010 season-scoring title that took the Thunder to a franchise-record 50-win season and pushed the Lakers to a six-game first round series. In July, Durant quietly signed a 5- year, $85-million extension with the Thunder. One month later, Durant lead the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team to the Gold Medal at the FIBA World Championship against host country Turkey, also taking home MVP honors.
Still picking up the pieces from an NBA Finals Game 7 defeat, the Boston Celtics added height with two O’Neal’s — Shaq, a legend-turned-journeyman, and Jermaine, whose performance has been declining ever since Bob Barker hosted The Price is
After appearing in only 45 games last season, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets is healthy and ready to reclaim his status as the NBA’s preeminent point guard.
Let us not forget the Orlando Magic, 17 months removed from a loss to the Lakers in the NBA Finals and six months removed from their second straight trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The point is — the Miami Heat is not the only team playing this season. Premature crowning of the Heat as exhibited by members of E!SPN is akin to giving the Oscar to the film with the best preview. Three weeks into the season, the NBA movies are just getting started.
Heck, we’re still in the opening credits.