Written by: Matthew Blunk
The Summer of LeBron finally paid off for the Miami Heat.
Pat Riley's boys won basketball's ultimate prize last summer, besting the youthful-yet-extraordinarily-talented Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals in five games. The "coronation of King James" culminated with LeBron being named Finals MVP, and finally exorcizing his postseason demons. Some may not easily forget his bizarre evanescence in the 2011 Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, but James proved an awful lot in 2012 (and may have ultimately saved his legacy).
The Heat became James' team last season, and they seemed to have finally settled on an identity. Dwyane Wade took a step back and embraced his new role as no. 2 option, just as Chris Bosh gracefully became a high-effort "role-player" (not to mention the fact that he also essentially became the team's center).
But the most significant catalyst that helped to transform the Heat into a championship team was the change in James' mindset. LeBron was less concerned about how people felt about him and what people were saying about him and more focused on winning games and doing right by his teammates. His game on the court did not necessarily change. It was his killer instinct and will to win that made the difference.
For the 2012-13 season, Miami figures to have a superior all-around team than it did last year. For those keeping score at home, that means the Heat, coming off a championship season, should be a better team. The additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis make the defending champions deeper and better at three-point shooting. Allen and Lewis also happen to be two very experienced veterans, which can only help in the locker room.
And from here on out, the Heat will be playing for history. Can they repeat as NBA champions? Will they go down as a dynasty? Will they rest on their laurels? For LeBron and friends, it's one down - seven to go.
Notable 2012-13 Miami Heat games
Oct. 30 vs. Boston Celtics (season opener, raising of 2012 championship banner)
Nov. 2 at New York Knicks
Dec. 25 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jan. 17 at Los Angeles Lakers
Mar. 20 at Cleveland Cavaliers
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