With James able to opt out of his contract as soon as June, there's a lot more at stake this season than whether the Heat becomes the first team to three-peat since the Lakers in 2000-02.
Namely, Miami's long-term future and the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.
In a good sign for the Heat, James is sounding a lot like he did after signing with the team four years ago. Asked whether he had accomplished everything he wanted with the Heat, James told reporters, "Not till I win. Not 11. Not 12. Not 13. Not 14."
Uh-oh. He's ticking off presumed championships again?
The Heat will happily embrace the bravado, as long as James is willing to provide it while wearing one of its jerseys.
Indiana and Chicago can only hope that hello-again seasons from their stars result in a see-ya decision from James.
The Pacers are getting back
There's also the excess of the
Ultimately, the Heat will either wilt all-comers or risk being jilted once James decides where to take his talents next summer.