- Neil Paine
For some, the natural instinct last June was to slap an asterisk on the Miami Heat's NBA championship. After all, it came in a lockout-shortened 66-game campaign, plus LeBron James and company didn't defeat one of the league's traditional glamour franchises -- namely, the Los Angeles Lakers -- in the Finals. In fact, at one point they were in a 2-1 hole against the Roy Hibbert-led Indiana Pacers, and also were pushed to the brink of elimination by the ancient Boston Celtics (an ill-timed injury to Chris Bosh didn't help in either regard). Their 16-7 record along the way to the title ranked only 40th out of the NBA's 63 all-time champions.
By most measures, then, the 2012 Heat were hardly among the most dominating title-winners in league history. Yet, at the same time, they might have been right up there with the most talented champs ever.
21hMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne