It’s an understatement to say that it is currently an exciting time in the world of sports, but it really is. The World Series starts tonight. College football and NFL is beginning to heat up and bowl games and playoffs we all love will be here before you know it. That’s not even to mention that the NBA is about to start. On that note, I thought it’d be most appropriate to whet our appetites for the upcoming season by mentioning a few of the most compelling stories in the league.

1. LeBron James and the Miami Heat

LeBron James had an incredible year last year, winning his fourth MVP award and his second championship. This season, the demand for perfection/greatness will be as merciless as ever. Even in light of his nothing-short-of-stellar season last year, LeBron critics span far and wide. How does he compare with Michael Jordan? Will LeBron turn out to be the greatest ever? This season will be another chapter fortifying the LeBron narrative. I’m convinced–and puzzled–that no matter how many accolades LeBron stacks up in his career, critique/judgment are his closest companions. My prediction: He’ll win his 5th MVP award.

Will the Heat 3-peat and take it home again this year? Such a feat would make the Heat the first team to win three championships in three consecutive years since the Lakers of the early 2000’s. Will LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh flourish together? Will this year be marked by the ego-mania which they’re/we’re all accustomed? Heat owner Pat Riley brought in fan favorite Chris “The Birdman” Anderson last year, who provided undeniable energy when it was most desperately needed. Riley also found a way to land big man Greg Oden and troubled ex-Heat guard Michael Beasley during the off season. Let’s just say I’m waaay more skeptical of the Heat (and their fans) receiving their new additions as well as they received the Bird. Cah-cah!

2. The Return of Derrick Rose

Bulls guard D-Rose is back. But is the same D-Rose back? As in the 2011 MVP? Tearing your ACL is a players worst nightmare, and Rose has been quite candid about his frustration last season, which he missed in its entirety. There were moments last season where the Bulls fans seemed a bit wary of their franchise player. That being said, there’s no doubt Bulls fans will give him a warm welcome.

The “New Bad Boys” of the NBA had an impressive season last year, giving the Heat a run for their money. With breakout talent Jimmy Butler and of course, the ever-annoying Joakim Noah getting inside opponent’s heads every single game, the Bulls are a strong contender in the East. Must-watch season-opener against Miami!

jharden pose3. The Houston Rockets 

Linsanity. The Bearded One. Superman. Rockets fans rejoice! With James Harden and Jeremy Lin and now Dwight Howard, there’s a well-deserved buzz in Houston. Former Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon has taken Dwight Howard under his wing, Lord knows he’s needed it after his much-criticized season with the Lakers. Howard isn’t exactly regarded as a “mentally tough” player. Will Houston be a place of comfort and freedom, or just another name on a jersey? I personally think that players like Harden and Lin, and head coach Kevin McKhale, are exactly what Dwight needs. There are high hopes in Houston.

4. The Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are going to be one of the most-watched teams in the NBA this season, which is a statement that hasn’t been said since the Nets title run in the Jason Kidd years. It’s been dark times for Nets fans since Kidd (who is now their new head coach) was throwing alley-oops to Kenyon Martin. After acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Celtics, the Nets have a solid starting 5, and both Pierce and KG’s competitiveness, despite growing old, will more than likely be contagious for the team as a whole.

5. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers

Last season was interesting for the Lakers, to say the least. The drama with Dwight Howard and coach Mike D’Antoni was enough for Laker fans to pull their hair out–and the cherry on top was the Kobe Bryant Achilles debacle. For the first time since Nick Van Exel was in uniform, it’s not looking so hot in L.A. Will this year be a rebuilding year, in preparation for a big sales pitch to LeBron in the summer? We know one thing, Kobe is not far behind Laker great Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s all-time scoring record, a mark for which the Black Mamba will be shooting–and by shooting, I mean shooting a lot.

 

Side notes:

The Los Angeles Clippers

With new coach Doc Rivers in town, will the Clips be a serious contender in the West? Most analysts say they will. More importantly, how many victims will Blake Griffin dunk on this year?

The NBA Introduced the Short-Sleeved Alternate Jersey

In the words of former player/theologian-in-disguise, Charles Barkley, “Turrible, just turrible!”

And…no doubt the nastiest dunk from last season. It never gets old!