Why the Miami Heat Will Not Win the NBA Championship

When LeBron James uttered the words, “This fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat,” many experts and fans crowned the Heat as 2010-2011 NBA Champions. Now that the Heat feature three of the top four players from arguably the best draft in history, the 2003 NBA Draft, the hype for the Heat is understandable.

For those who think that the Heat will be raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy come mid-June – just hold on a minute.

Last time the Heat acquired big time stars was in the 2004-2005 season. It took two years for a team that featured Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton to win a championship. One reason why this team failed to win a title in the first season was because of Stan Van Gundy. Many players did not respect him and it was not until Pat Riley stepped in that the team was able to mesh and win a title.

The same can be said about this year’s Miami Heat. Bosh, James and Wade are all bigger names than little known Eric Spoelstra. Will Miami’s big three have respect for an unproven coach? And if they don’t, how long before Riley decides to fire Spoelstra?

The Heat acquired the most talent this offseason by signing James and Bosh and retaining Wade. The most talented team does not necessarily win the championship. Look at the Detroit Pistons from a few years back. They did not have a single player average more than 20 points per game. On paper, the Pistons may not have been the most talented team in the 2004 NBA playoffs. Yet, their commitment to defense and the fact that they played as a unit rather than five individuals gave them the upper hand against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals.

Bosh, James and Wade were the focal points for their respective teams last year. There was no question that they were going to take the last shot. Now that they play on the same team, will they be able to put their egos aside? Sure, these three players played together on the 2008 Olympic team, but they had three years to prepare and learn to play as a team instead of individuals. It is true that the last time three big names in the NBA got together, the Boston Celtics won the title. But they played like the 2003-2004 Pistons, as no player averaged more than 20 points per game.

Just because the Celtics were able to win a title does not mean it works every time. We all know what happened to the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers, a team that featured four future hall-of-famers (Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton).

In the past decade, the teams that have won the NBA Championship have featured above-average post players. The Spurs from the late 90s had Duncan and David Robinson. The 2007 Celtics featured Kevin Garrett and a defensive workhorse in Kendrick Perkins, while the Lakers from the last two years had Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

Who does Miami have? Chris Bosh. Although the five-time all-star averaged a career high of 24 points last season, he has never really been a dominating force inside the paint. Bosh has never commanded double-teams like Shaq, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garrett have. And who is going to help him defend the paint? Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard? Yeah, I don’t think so.

Winning the Eastern Conference is easier said than done. Despite their age, the Celtics proved that they can still play with the best of teams. The Orlando Magic arguably still has the best defensive big man in Dwight Howard and the Chicago Bulls have emerging stars in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and they also added Carlos Boozer.

Did everyone forget that the Los Angeles Lakers are still defending champions? Need I mention that they have the same starting five from last year? Derek Fisher proved that he still has some clutch plays left in his 36-year old body. LA also bolstered their bench this offseason by adding two solid contributors in Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. Before I forget, the Lakers do feature the best closer in the NBA: Kobe Bryant.

As the NBA season tips off, don’t expect the Heat to be the last team standing when all is said and done. Last time I checked, teams, not individuals, win championships.