The Future of the Eastern Conference
You know how they are always talking about windows for sports teams – as in the window to win a championship is about to close? Well, in the Eastern Conference at least, everyone who doesn't have James, Wade or Howard (Cleveland, Miami, Orlando, respectively) is about to have their window close; if not next season, then certainly by 2008-09 and beyond.
James, 21, Wade, 24, and Howard, 20, are not just three good young players with bright futures. They are generational basketball talents, guys so good, so determined, so clutch that it is impossible not to envision them dominating the NBA (and certainly the East) for years and years to come.
Fast forward to the spring of 2009 – is there any doubt that James, with a better roster around him, has the Cleveland Cavaliers as the team to beat in the East? Certainly, unless you think Howard has anchored a quickly improving Magic team into that status. Or Pat Riley has rebuilt the Heat (post-Shaq) around Wade.
If you want to win a championship, you had better do it right here, right now. You can't build up a team with young players and hope it works in three years because the fact is that your young players aren't as good as the young players on Cleveland, Miami and Orlando. It isn't even close. You're going to lose.
James, Wade and Howard already are going to overwhelmingly affect your team's ability to compete for a title. You aren't getting out of the second round.