*It took a while, but the Miami Heat are starting to look like real championship contenders. After a 9-8 start, they have won 11 in a row as of Saturday morning (12-18-10).

The team’s defense has been dominant, making them second in the league for fewest points allowed per 100 possessions; and their offense, even minus two key role players, has been strong, averaging the fifth most points per 100 possessions.

At least for now, they have silenced the doubters who thought that the off-season free-agent coup of landing both LeBron James and Chris Bosh was just bling.

The thinking was that a group of superstars — even such a prodigious group as James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade, three of the game’s top eight players — would never triumph long term against a group of teams, units that had been through the fire, bonded through long seasons of rigorous tests and proven to be far more than the sum of their parts.

It might be fun to root against them, especially after James’ ridiculous infomercial this summer, during which he announced his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami, but the Heat’s winning season is good for the NBA’s current narrative.

Read MORE of this story by Martin Johnson at The Root.