The Miami Heat may not have started the trend of the "Big Three" like the Boston Celtics, but what they are doing with their version is quite different. In addition to their core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat are adding veterans left and right to bolster their squad.
Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have already joined the team and been introduced by the organization. Both players took less money in Miami than they could have gotten elsewhere.
In addition to Allen and Lewis, the Heat were also on the list for many other veteran players willing to come to Miami at discounted prices.
Marcus Camby and Steve Nash were both mentioned in previous weeks as being interested in joining the Heat. Grant Hill is still rumored to be interested in possibly joining the Heat (h/t David Aldridge of NBA.com).
With James leading the way, the Heat are the favorites to win NBA titles until further notice. Veterans who are hoping for one more ring are realizing this. Instead of being split among contenders, these veterans are taking less money for the best possible chance at a ring.
While it may seem unfair to a certain extent, can we really blame these players for doing whatever they can to get a ring or a second one?
More so than ever, players' legacies are defined first and foremost by how many championships they have won. It's the ultimate point of emphasis in any debate about players and greatness.
When discussing whether Kobe Bryant is at the level of Michael Jordan, all a pro-Jordan debater would have to say is, "Come back when Bryant has a sixth ring."
Kobe was spot on when discussing LeBron's recent championship, as quoted by Sports Illustrated's Ian Thompson:
One championship doesn't get it, you know what I'm saying?'' Bryant said. "So for me, when we won one, it was a little different because it was, like you know, Michael (Jordan) had six, Magic (Johnson) had five. So me and Shaq (O'Neal) both were like, man, we got to get some more. One ain't going to cut it.''
The Boston Celtics started the super-team era, with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett being joining Paul Pierce via trades in order to win a ring. They got their title with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008.
James, Wade and Bosh joined up in Miami in direct response of the Celtics' success.
This is the next step beyond that.
While the Heat get better and better with older veterans using the team as a last chance to get rings, the rest of the NBA has to stand by and watch. It's looking more and more as though the Heat are going to repeat and start being something special.
In the East, there aren't many teams that match up well with the Heat.
The Celtics are getting older, and the signing of Jason Terry won't have enough of an impact to beat the Heat.
The Knicks should be better, but good enough to beat the Heat in a seven-game series?
The Pacers fought hard against the Heat last season but lost, and Miami will be even tougher with its new toys.
In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs are the only teams with chances at beating the Heat with both teams full strength. Even in these matchups, the Heat are likely favorites to win in seven-game series.
With the Heat coming off a championship and adding even more pieces for next season, this could be the start of the NBA's next dynasty. Allen and Lewis will be big contributors the next couple seasons, and once they age, there will assuredly be a new wave of veterans drooling at the chance to sign with the Heat.
Some will hate the new direction the NBA is going, but if James can get up to four or five titles, that greatest-player-of-all-time debate could get more and more interesting.
Just how many titles can this Miami Heat team win? Well, Not one, not two, not three..
You get the point.
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