The Miami Heat, for the second consecutive year, raised some fancy fabric and accepted some gaudy jewelry last week. The journey toward a third straight title is now underway, and if the team can pull it off, it'll join the Bulls (who did it twice in the '90s), the Lakers (in the early '50s and early '00s), and the Celtics (in the late '50s).
So what will take arguably the most talented Heat team to the level needed to repeat this season? Here are five burning questions:
Can Dwyane Wade stay healthy? Without a fit Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat is closer to the end of its run than in the middle of it. Not even Banana Man is more important to this franchise. Rule number one: You never make Dwyane Wade bleed. Rule number two: You never doubt Dwyane Wade. Rule number three: You apologize to Dwyane Wade for making these three rules necessary, because he's a bawse.
Is this the season when the entire world pays for what it's said to Chris Bosh? Heat fans thought we were getting something called "CB4" but ended up getting a "Boshy Q. Bear" instead, but it's all turned out pretty great so far. Bosh has sat back and been the nice-guy third option just about long enough by the looks of his play this preseason, and that should scare opponents.
Can Birdman 2 top the original? I'm not a stats guy, but I believe I remember the Miami Heat winning roughly 90 games and losing one by repeated illegal blows below the waist after it signed Chris "Birdman" Andersen last season. Birdman brought exactly what the Heat was missing midway through the year, so it's exciting to think what he can provide after an offseason filled with the comfort of job security.
Will Greg Oden please catch a freaking break? Greg Oden deserves the Miami Heat. For all this guy has been through since going as the first overall pick in 2007 shortly before his knees disintegrated, he deserves some damned success in his life, and he came to the right place to find it. If Oden finds himself more worried about vacation than he does rehab come July, that's a win in his book, and it more than likely means he provided the Heat with solid seven-footer-off-the-bench minutes throughout the season.
LeBron James can't get any better, right? That's the pink elephant in the room that people ignore. The league had one plan for LeBron James, and it was to make him shoot the ball, and boy oh boy did that blow up in its face last year. LeBron has no reservations about telling you he will stop at nothing until the record books are just a single piece of paper that says "LeBron James and Co." If James and Co. can pull off the three-peat, rest assured everything else will take care of itself, and LeBron will be looking for the "Four-Heat" about this time next season.