COMMENTARY | It has happened 10 times in the history of the game. Ten times between five organizations.
That includes the Boston Celtics, who won eight straight titles from 1959-66. And the Minneapolis Lakers, who later relocated to Los Angeles.
Next in line to join that exclusive company: the Miami Heat.
The Heat will repeat as NBA champs in 2013 for five reasons.
(1) LeBron is at his best
LeBron James is the best in the game. How much more does he have to do to prove he is basketball's ambassador, and the consummate player with more than any other player to offer? We need not rehash how this has been the best season of his career, but the truth of the matter is, it simply is.
On top of that, he recently said he wants to become the best of all-time. Last year's title just won't cut it. He'll need two more to even be considered among the game's greatest. But even LeBron knows that might not be enough. The early part of his career didn't help, either. It took LeBron eight years to win a championship.
Yes, it took Michael Jordan seven years before he won the first of his six NBA titles, and he briefly retired after his first three. Does LeBron have enough in him, let alone enough time to come close to MJ's six or Kobe Bryant's five?
(2) Birdman is soaring again
Here's the scary part about Chris Andersen's resurgent career:
The Heat don't run any plays for him. Everything he earns is based on hustle, determination and his unflappable will. He is the modern-day version of Dennis Rodman, who earned his stripes as a blue collar rebounder and occasional versatile offensive option when he was with the Detroit Pistons. That the Heat gave Birdman a chance to restore his career, and now his increasingly popular appeal in South Florida, has been a win-win for both parties. Reports suggested Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was texting Miami General Manager constantly, urging him to sign Andersen. If Miami repeats as champs, this move is going to be considered the best acquisition of the NBA season, and Riley is going to look even more genius, while Spoelstra may earn himself extra rewards.
"It's a select few we have in our league with that type of motor," said James Andersen in a post-game interview with TNT's Craig Sager, following the Heat's playoff-opening win over Milwaukee Sunday night. "We're so happy to have him."
Time to fly.
(3) Allen has something to prove
When Ray Allen spurned the Boston Celtics offer to re-sign him last summer, he sent a message to the rest of the NBA and a team where he was beloved amongst some of the most passionate fans in the game. For one, Allen told the league he wanted to play with the best because he wanted another title. Secondly, he was letting the Celtics know he wasn't just some bit player who was supposed to sit in the corner and wait for the ball to pass him by.
Allen has played a more active role in this Heat system than his waning days in Boston. In the opening series against Milwaukee, Allen became the all-time leader in NBA playoffs history for three-point field goals made, surpassing Indiana Pacers' great Reggie Miller. Allen is a dangerous complement to last year's title-game clinching hero Mike Miller.
Come NBA Finals time, if Allen hits one three early, watch out.
(4) Who else in the East can beat the Heat?
Yes, the New York Knicks were impressive at the end of the year. But honestly, do they really match up with Miami? Even when both teams are at their best, it isn't even fair.
Miami will beat the Knicks or their next-best Eastern Conference challenge, the Indiana Pacers, in six max. The Heat were built to win seven-game series. They are constructed to wear teams down with their athleticism, ability to get up and down the floor and now improved rebounding with the addition of Andersen.
(5) West will beat themselves up before Finals
It doesn't matter who it is that emerges out of the West: Oklahoma City, San Antonio or the "other" Los Angeles team, the balance of power in the West is so much more potent than that in the East. Case in point, Houston gave Oklahoma City fits in Game 2 of their first-round series Wednesday night. Keep in mind, that game was played in Oklahoma, and the Thunder are the defending Western Conference champs.
Some say the Spurs are the team to beat in the West. Some like the Clippers. And yet not anyone in their right mind is ready to completely write off the Thunder. That's what makes this road a long haul for whoever comes out of the West.
How the West is won just might be the Heat's path to joining NBA history.
Jim McCurdy is a freelance sports writer based in Miami. He has written for major publications around the country. Follow him on Twitter at @irishcurds.
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