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The Heat are given more leeway in the regular season now that they have won their first championship in the Big Three era. The scrutiny that weighed on Miami every night before the 2012 playoffs has been transferred in part to the LA Lakers, who are 15-20 (11th in the Western Conference) in their first season after acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to accompany Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Even so, if you ask LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, they'll tell you that the scrutiny facing the Lakers pales in comparison to that faced by Miami in 2010, when they opened the season 9-8.
"No one will ever be able to compare what we went through," James told the Miami Herald Thursday. "Even though they're not winning and they're losing a lot of games, it's still nowhere near what we went through."
Wade explained that Los Angeles had a honeymoon period after trading for Howard and signing Nash in free agency.
"Because of everything that happened in 2010 with offseason signings, it was, automatically, just a lot of negative things that was said about us," he said. "[Los Angeles] didn't go through that at the beginning. They didn't go through anything negative about bringing those guys together, so ours started off bad and it stayed bad for a while, and then we got better."
One thing the 2010-11 Heat and 2012-13 Lakers do share was their status as non-favorites. Even after the Lakers acquired Nash and Howard, the Oklahoma City Thunder were still considered by most to be the favorites in the Western Conference, and the Heat for a title.
When Miami acquired James and Chris Bosh while re-signing Wade, they were considered by many to be third banana in the Eastern Conference behind Boston and Chicago. Los Angeles, coincidentally enough, was a favorite for and NBA title last season (they would go on to lose to eventual champion Dallas in the playoffs that year).
Wade added that some Lakers are better prepared for the target on their backs than others, namely Bryant.
"I know [Kobe] understands it," Wade said. "That's the nature of the beast out in L.A. I don't know if every player that comes through there understands what you're getting yourself into when you walk through those Lakers doors."
Wade and LeBron can argue about which team was more infamous in its time, but the Heat never faced a hole like the one confronting the Lakers now. After losing their opening game that season, the Heat never fell below .500 again, and their 9-8 record through 17 games was the lowest point in the regular season.
The Lakers, currently 11th in the Western Conference, could conceivably miss the playoffs at this point, an outcome never even considered in the Heat's lowest points two seasons ago.