By Alex Groberman
It appears as though ABC/ESPN’s NBA co-lead analyst, Jeff Van Gundy, has taken a page out of co-host Mark Jackson’s book. While speaking with reporters recently, Van Gundy said that he expected the 2010-11 Miami Heat to break the NBA’s single season wins total of 72-10 set by the Chicago Bulls in 1996. Two years ago, Jackson made similar headlines when he predicted that Lakers star, Kobe Bryant, would become widely recognized by fans as a greater player than Michael Jordan by the time he retires.
``They will break the single-season win record [of 72],'' Jeff Van Gundy said. ``And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers' 33-game [winning] streak [in 1971-72], as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year.
``They have put together a much better roster than anybody could ever have expected,'' Van Gundy added. ``There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will."
Further, Van Gundy doesn’t think that head coach, Erik Spoelstra will have any trouble coaching the Heat’s “Three Kings.”
``And with Erik Spoelstra coaching, they will be in the top three defensive teams in the league, as well. The other 29 teams better hope the lockout gets moved up a year,” he told the media.
Earlier in the summer, the Heat made headlines when they brought in LeBron James and Chris Bosh, to join a former NBA Finals MVP in Dwyane Wade during the much-heralded “Free Agency 2010.” The move made them Vegas’ choice as favorites to win the NBA title, and has fans and critics alike agreeing that will be tough to beat in the upcoming season.
Still, not everyone is sure that the Heat have what it takes to surpass the record set by the ’96 Bulls.
``I'm not trying to be Mercury Morris and root against anybody, but I don't think it will happen again,'' said TNT's Steve Kerr, who played on that Chicago team. ``There are too many variables, too many meaningless games, too many bad shooting nights, too much playoff preparation.
``If anybody has a shot to do it, Miami does. If everything comes together perfectly, maybe they get to 70.''
Two years ago, we thought Jackson’s proclamation of Bryant ending up being better than Jordan were crazy. Now, two rings later, Jackson’s words hold some weight. Who knows, maybe at the end of 2010-11, Van Gundy’s prediction will look a lot smarter than it does now too.