San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 6

Chris Bosh thinks Heat can still be contenders without LeBron James


Pat Riley did about as well as one could expect in putting together an interesting roster in Miami’s post-LeBron James world. Chris Bosh is getting a lot of money to step back into a key offensive role, and with the additions of Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts the Heat can be even more of the small-ball, aggressive team they had been. In the East, that is a lock playoff team.

Contenders? Um….

Don’t tell Bosh that. Bosh spoke with Tom Haberstroh of ESPN about how good he thinks this Heat team can be.

“I think right now we have the correct infrastructure to compete for a championship,” Bosh said. “We have to get much better at certain positions, and there’s a bunch of things that have to continue to happen. But you know a team like the Spurs, they had a lot of guys that people underestimate, but as a team, they were outstanding.”

Bosh echoed the same sentiments speaking to the Associated Press.

“I can’t lie to you: I’m excited. I’m excited for the challenge,” Bosh said during a break from NBA Africa duties. “I want to step up to the challenge. I feel this is a chance to prove to myself and others that I can still do this.

“I want to see if I can do what’s necessary to go in there and win every night. That’s the challenge of being a leader. It excites me. It’s been a long time and I feel like I’m a much better player and a leader now, so it’ll be fun.”

Good for Bosh. That is exactly what you want to hear from a player. You want your leaders to be positive and believe.

Doesn’t mean I think you should bet on the Heat to win a title in the next couple years.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.