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The Heart Of A Champion: 2011-12 Miami Heat

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The Miami Heat are positioned for another run at the NBA Title. Does LeBron have the heart to see it through?

As we know, the talent is there. The question has always been the heart.

Last season, the Miami Heat were assembled to compete for a title. Many pundits predicted they would take a year to get used to each other before challenging for an NBA title. The team gelled much faster than anybody gave them credit for, as the top seeded Chicago Bulls and the third seeded Boston Celtics would learn in the 2011 Playoffs. Only after game three of the NBA Finals with the Western Conference Champion Dallas Mavericks did the Heat run out of gas.

During the regular season last year, there was a period of adjustment where the team was not quite used to each other yet. They lost the opener to the Boston Celtics and started out the season 9-8. There was a hiccup in January where the team lost four in a row, and another tribulating time in March where they lost five straight. Aside from that, the team went 49-7 with ten win streaks of three games or more, including a stretch where the team won 21 of 22 and another where they took eight straight.

Meet the Heat

The heart and soul of the franchise, not surprisingly, is the "Big Three."

In the most publicized "decision" ever, LeBron James took his talents down to South Beach. He brought with him the most balanced skill-set in the NBA today. "King" James is a seven time All-Star selectee. He was also part of the All-Rookie team and a three-time NBA All-Defensive team. He was seven times selected as an NBA first team member, including five times to the first team. James was the NBA scoring champion in 2008, twice the All-Star game MVP and twice the NBA MVP, in 2009 and 2010. James has long had a reputation for folding like a house of cards once things get real. It's a reputation bought and paid for in his seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. James has to set his sights on annihilating this reputation.

Dwyane Wade has been here since the 2003 NBA Draft. He is a seven-time All-Star game selectee, a member of the All-Rookie team, a three-time NBA All-Defensive team, a six-time All-NBA selection, including two first team selections, an NBA Finals MVP, in 2006, an All-Star game MVP, in 2010, an NBA scoring champion in 2009, and, unlike James, an NBA Champion in 2006.

Rounding out the "Big Three" is power forward Chris Bosh. Bosh is a six-time NBA All-Star and was also a member of the NBA All-Rookie team. He was an All-NBA team member in 2007. Unlike the other two, Bosh cannot boast otherworldly numbers and accolades. Many opposing team members and members of the press have gone back to this fact to try and get a rise out of him. This may be backfiring, as Bosh has put up great supporting numbers for Wade and James. James has said in the past that Bosh is the key to the Miami Heat.

Also returning to the Heat this season will be former all-stars Juwan Howard, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Jerry Stackhouse. Rock solid Joel Anthony remains the starting center. Mario Chalmers and new addition Norris Cole will quarterback from the point guard position. Off the bench at power forward, rebounding specialist, fan favorite and longest tenured member of the team, (along with DWade) Udonis Haslem returns to the fold. Sharpshooting forwards James Jones and Mike Miller return for another run. The only roster move of any impact is the acquisition of Shane Battier, already proving to be a fan favorite.

Essentially, the team returns the same exact roster for another run at the title. The lack of roster moves (aside from Battier) indicates that the front office believes that all the pieces are already in place for another long run into the playoffs, but anything less than an NBA title will have the Miami faithful rioting in the streets (hopefully not literally).

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.