Let’s Do It Again.
That very well may be the mood music echoing from the Miami Heat locker room as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh seek to psyche and motivate themselves into fulfilling their back-to-back title aspirations this spring.
The NBA Playoffs begin in earnest on Saturday, and if the “Heatles,” are indeed to again reach the Finals, they’d do well to play the game as if they hadn’t accomplished anything at all this season. Franchise record winning streaks, team overall-victories records and career individual seasons now essentially mean nothing. And new jacks like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony and old heads like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are all gunning to snatch victory from the jaws of the Heat.
Such are the high-stakes one confronts when a group declares its union the genesis of a dynasty. And the bold proclamations keep coming.
“It’s only capped by winning a championship,” Wade said of their record-breaking season. “At the end of the day, you can say that’s unfair; you can say a lot of things. But we’re built to be a championship team. It’s not guaranteed… but we all came together for one thing, to be in the Finals and give ourselves a chance.”
While the Heat probably won't encounter much resistance in their first round matchup against Milwaukee, others are shaping up to be exciting games.
Though the Knicks finished more than 12 games ahead of the Celtics this season, does anyone really think the chasm between Carmelo, KG, J.R. and The Truth will really be that wide come Game 1 Saturday evening?
Ditto for San Antonio vs. L.A., where even without Kobe, the Lakers could make life quite testy for the Spurs over the course of their potential seven-game series.
“We hate what happened to Kobe, but it’s a great opportunity for me to lead this,” said heir apparent Dwight Howard. “Despite whatever happened this season, we have a chance to make history. Now we’ll go out and play like it.”
As for the Nets’ NYC takeover, Brooklyn might be forced to hit the pause button if their series with Chicago is to serve as the barometer. Sure, with Derrick Rose sidelined, Brooklyn owns the advantage at the point guard spot, but can the Nets really say that about any other position?
And then there’s Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the consensus team with the best chance to thwart the Heat and their hoop dreams. A year older, wiser and more poised, Durant ceded all chances of defending his three-time scoring title, all in the name of zoning in on the one thing he now insists matters most to him.
“Have to get the ring and any fan that doesn’t understand that, isn’t really fan at all" Durant tweeted. He should be forewarned that no less than James himself has pronounced this Heat team the most resilient and dedicated he’s ever starred on.
“We’ve seen it all,” James told ESPN. “There isn’t one thing that could surprise us. We’ve had a feeling of winning a title and we want it back. That makes us even hungrier.”
Wade agreed. “A lot of people always said the hardest thing is to win your first championship, but I think the hardest thing is to win another one, and then another one,” said Wade. “You can give it your all for the first one, because it’s something you worked so hard for and you dreamed of, but after you get to that mountaintop now what do you pull from?”
The next several weeks will provide some answers, some closure — and a new champion. Game on.
Glenn Minnis is a veteran sports and culture writer who has contributed to the likes of ESPN, Vibe and the NFL Magazine. He has also been on staff at AOL Sports, the Chicago Tribune and was the founding sports editor for 360HipHop.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.