|Heat F Chris Bosh sees the Lakers as the team to beat in 2012-13. (Getty Images)|
Et tu, Bosh?
LeBron James just completed a stunning round of world domination, Dwyane Wade is confidently eying back-to-back titles as he recovers from successful knee surgery, and Chris Bosh... well, Chris Bosh is letting everyone know that the Los Angeles Lakers appear better than the Big 3's Miami Heat -- at least "on paper."
Bosh, perpetually zigging where others zag, told Miami radio station WQAM on Friday that the Lakers, new and improved thanks to the summer additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, appear to be the early team to beat in 2012-13.
The Sun-Sentinel transcribed the comments.
"The Lakers, I think, right now, I mean on paper, they probably have the best team in the West and probably the league right now," he said. "On paper. I'm saying on paper. But it's a lot, a lot, it's a long season. And the best team always isn't the one who starts out the season as the best team.
"We know we're the champs, but we have to start off from scratch. We have a lot of chemistry building to do. And we have to come out there and we have to start over. We know favorites and all that stuff really doesn't matter."
Meanwhile, RealGM.com reported Wade's view of the league landscape, which was quite different, as you might expect.
“We're the defending champions, so to say that we're not the favorites would be fooling yourself,” Wade said. “But that doesn't guarantee you anything and we have to put just as hard work as we did last summer to come back this year and compete. I look forward to it.”
The champagne is barely dry and Bosh is already willing to sacrifice the throne. You don't hear this type of honest, self-demoting analysis very often from professional athletes.
Bosh has always had a George Washington "I cannot tell a lie" vibe going and there's a fairly fierce battle raging between the Heat and the Lakers as to who should be the title favorites. The last time we checked, Las Vegas still liked the Heat, but only barely.
There's the huge issue of pressure and national attention at play here, though, and the Heat, now with monkey off their collective back thanks to their victory in the 2012 Finals over the Oklahoma City Thunder, are surely looking forward to a season in which they won't be the league's most scrutinized team. The Lakers, rarely far from the NBA's center stage, are now back firmly under every possible spotlight. As we all learned during the 2010-11 season, that can impact wins and losses, as the Heat fell apart under the pressure of the 2011 Finals.
Intentional or not, there just might be a method to Bosh's madness here. Why not pile on the expectations of their likely 2013 Finals opponent? If we've learned anything over the last two years, it's that Howard is at his absolute worst and most self-destructive when he's the center of attention. Not to mention, the Heat have thrived on an "us against the world" mentality over the last two seasons and that's not too much different from playing the "underdog" card, as ridiculous as that might seem during a title defense that will be led by the world's best player operating at his peak level.