4. Miami Heat
LeBron James earned his first championship ring this past season, and that’s all good and well. But you don’t convene the super friends for just one NBA title. The Eastern Conference as a whole is essentially a doormat. Indiana couldn’t even handle a handicapped Miami, Chicago with a healthy Derrick Rose lost to the Heat in five games, and the Boston Celtics just can’t beat Miami when it counts. Even with Rajon Rondo‘s superhuman wheeling and dealing, the Celts fell short of matching LeBron’s masterful bravado and withered away on the big stage.
But the real pressure stems from Dwyane Wade – or, really, non-Dwyane Wade, as he’s proven to be of late. Injuries have riddled an otherwise stellar career, and his 30+ years are creaking and cracking a bit too much. And it’s not like Wade has any legitimate trade value, since no NBA team would sacrifice the requisite parts to acquire a broken down once-superstar, and the Miami Heat would obliterate any lasting sense of basketball fealty by dealing the city’s most cherished athletic star. LeBron James is chasing history now, and only his teammates really stand in the way. So while they’re young, while they’re (relatively) injury free, it’s championship or endless Skip Bayless blathering.