The 2010-2011 National Basketball Association season officially tips off 26 October with three games, including a match-up between two title contenders, when the Miami Heat visit the Boston Celtics.  The Celtics have the proudest pedigree in NBA history, and they say “It’s All About 18.”

The Celtics are talking about winning their record 18th NBA title. The Heat and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers might have something to say about that, though. Led by superstar Kobe Bryant, the Lakers are bidding for their third consecutive NBA championship, and if they lift another trophy, they’ll match the Celtics with 17 titles.

Miami might very well be the most watched NBA team throughout the season.  The Heat signed all-stars Chris Bosh and LeBron James during the off-season, and they joined Miami’s all-star guard Dwyane Wade to form perhaps the most explosive trio in the league.

I’m also happy to see the Chinese giant Yao Ming back on the court for the Houston Rockets.  The seven-time NBA All-Star missed all of last season because of a broken foot.

The NBA club based here in Washington, the Wizards, is one of the youngest in the league and is not a title contender. But, as a Wizards fan, I’m excited about #1 NBA Draft pick John Wall helping make the team more competitive in the future.  Wizards head coach Flip Saunders has enough confidence in the 20-year-old Wall that he’s already named him one of the team’s co-captains.

The NBA has become more international in recent years, with Yao Ming and other foreign players testing their skills in the league.  The Wizards feature two players born outside the United States on their opening day roster, and both are big men 7 feet tall, Hamady Ndiaye of Senegal, and Yi Jianlan of China.  The rookie Ndiaye has a great attitude as he tries to make a name for himself in the world’s best basketball league:  “No matter what it takes, I’m always going to keep a smile on my face.”