SBD/Issue 32/NBA Season Preview

New-Look Heat Tip Off Regular Season Amid Unprecedented Buzz

Wade, Bosh And James (l to r) Tip Off
Season Tonight Against The Celtics

The "unprecedented convergence" of Heat G Dwyane Wade and Fs LeBron James and Chris Bosh "has created a buzz the NBA hasn't seen in some time -- maybe ever," according to Joseph Goodman of the MIAMI HERALD. The Heat tip off their regular season tonight against the Celtics at TD Garden, and Heat "fans and Heat haters" should "prepare for a season like no other." Heat G James Jones: "Nationally the buzz has grown and locally the buzz is at an all-time high. It's an exciting time for the franchise, for the city but also for the players." Goodman noted the city of Miami "has supported many winners throughout the years but perhaps never -- not even when Shaquille O'Neal arrived and helped deliver a championship in 2006 -- has professional basketball come this close to rivaling the area's fan support" of the Dolphins. When asked "what must happen for the Heat to challenge the Dolphins for the keys to the hearts of the city," Bosh said, "Just win." Jones added, "Miami is always hungry for a winner. This isn't a city where being average or mediocre goes over well" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/24). In Ft. Lauderdale, Shandel Richardson wrote Wade, James and Bosh are "trying to keep this ride entertaining despite all the expectations and spotlight," and "thus far, they have handled the media crush with ease, often joking during interviews" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/24). In Miami, Greg Cote wrote, "The story of the Dream Team Heat is just getting started, and, make no mistake, it is the biggest story in American sports right now. ... The curiosity over what Wade, James and Bosh might accomplish is compelling because so much of the country wishes them to fail, and because nobody can be quite sure, yet, if this grand experiment will be an astounding success, a colossal disappointment or shades in between." The Heat "will face highly motivated opponents and hostile fans in every city," and the "hoping that happens, that public failure, is so much of what fuels these guys." Cote: "We haven't had a team as hated as this since the Miami Hurricanes of the 1980s" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/24).

CENTER OF ATTENTION: In DC, Michael Wilbon writes, "Not since Michael Jordan's return to basketball in 1995 ... has a team generated so much fascination before playing its first game." There is "every reason for hoops junkies and celebrity sycophants alike to pay close attention" to the Heat "from the very first tip-off." It is "hard to imagine, in this day of the 24-7 news cycle, of Twitter and video beamed 'round the world in an instant, that any team will be watched with more anticipation" than the Heat. At the start, "people will adore them in South Florida and pretty much resent them, perhaps even hate them, most everywhere else." The Heat story line is "so dominant," the two-time defending champion Lakers "have been pushed to the back of the stage" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/26). In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes, "Like the Yankees, the Heat will be at once the most despised and popular team in today's NBA, quite likely in the league's history. ... It'll be good for the NBA, in the same way the Yankees have been good for baseball. Every sport needs a villain, a team that inspires powerful emotions and sellout crowds, while spiking TV ratings and building momentum for the sport's postseason" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/26). In L.A., Mark Heisler wrote the "world has decided" the Heat are "evil." But that perception is a "godsend for the NBA, which went years in its post-Michael Jordan era without villains to challenge heroes before finally lucking into a Lakers-Celtics revival." Now the league "has the mother lode, with a third glamour team in Miami, taking notoriety to a new level" (L.A. TIMES, 10/24).

T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor Says It Is
Good For The League To Be Competitive

COME TOGETHER: T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor said of James, Bosh and Wade playing together, "I hate to see that type of talent move onto one team, it's just good for the league to be competitive. But on the other hand, there's nothing that's more of a buzz than this. There's just no question that when they come to your town, everybody is going to want to see them." In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda notes Taylor acknowledged that NBA owners "have discussed the concept of a 'franchise player' tag (such as the NFL's) -- a designation that binds a prospective free agent to his current team if certain conditions are met." NBA Commissioner David Stern "called the franchise tag an 'interesting concept' that the league probably will introduce in on-going labor negotiations" with the NBPA (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26). ESPN.com's Chris Broussard writes with James and Bosh joining the Heat, they "changed the story that takes place every off-season." It "wasn't just about franchises getting better; it was about players wresting control of the game," which is "why King James' power move -- frowned upon by vocal fans and Hall of Famers alike -- was actually cheered silently by many NBA insiders." They "viewed it as a long-overdue lesson in comeuppance for the owners." The lesson of the offseason "wasn't solely about LeBron, his ego or his character," it also was "about the road map he created." Along with Wade and Bosh, James "showed players how to dictate terms to owners in a way that is as unsettling as the government's repealing tax cuts" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 11/1).

GRAND INTRODUCTION: In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay reported the Heat for Friday's home opener against the Magic are distributing 20,000 "I. Was. There." T-shirts, as well as a "collector's edition of the game night program." A new player introduction video also will debut, and a special "Summer of 2010" video will play at halftime (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/24).

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