Aside from the motivation questions that surround Slater, there is also this: one can only ask how long he can hold off his rivals, because the hand of time doesn't wait for anyone, even the greatest.
Slater is 35 and in great shape.
Mick Fanning, however, is 10 years younger, said to be training like a madman and has enough attitude to take Slater — especially after smoking him at J-Bay last year, an event that Slater had dominated the last couple of years.
Then there are others like Bobby Martinez, Joel Parkinson, and the Hobgoods, who also stand an outside chance of winning a world title.
Then you have a talented new rookie class of 2007 headed by none other than Australian Josh Kerr who is sure to wreak havoc on this year's tour.
Exciting to say the least.
So the question is: Will Slater stave off the ruthless attacks of Irons and Fanning or will he just coolly stroll through the year picking his spots?
Does someone else sneak up and swipe a title?
Say, Taj Burrow, who has yet to be mentioned. Or last year's rookie sensation, Martinez. Or another veteran like Parkinson.
My guess is you don't win eight world titles and then walk away when the rest of your rivals turn up the heat.
Look for an extra-motivated Slater to win number nine. After all, the lights of Hollywood won't be dimming any time soon.
James Pribram is a Laguna Beach native, board member of Clean Water Now, pro surfer and founder of the Aloha School of Surfing. He can be reached at email@example.com.