The Miami Heat's Summer of 2010 could have ended up a big travesty.
Although there had been a successful 'Big Three' experiment a few years prior in Boston and the dynasty in San Antonio that was supported by the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, it didn't mean anything to just throw three big names into the same uniform.
LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade wanted to be more than just one name on a team; each of those three wanted better for themselves in terms of their chances of winning a title while they were still playing the best basketball of their careers—especially LeBron James who was giving up a lot more than just some regular season wins.
LeBron was leaving behind a possible mark on his legacy. Sure, Dwyane and Chris were also leaving behind the individual support of an entire city, but they weren't leaving a potential championship. Even though the Cavaliers would have probably not stood much of a chance in another NBA Finals, James was still leading the franchise and their fans to heights they had never seen before.
Naturally, there would be those who were peeved that James decided to leave. Ultimately, however, it was the right decision.
In order for proper basketball to be played, the best players would have to coexist—those two being Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. This wasn't brought up, probably because everybody was celebrating at the pre-preseason party, but James and Wade have similar playing styles, both lacking consistent jumpers.
The Heat needed to find ways for those two to thrive since it was going to be a guarantee that opponents would be packing the paint. As a result, the fast-paced offense came into play in the 2011-12 season, with the Heat moving up to 14th in pace from 21st the year before. Of course, Wade and James having played a year together also created a significant impact, as well.
Without the two constantly practicing and questioning each other on how to make this whole thing work, they might still be pursuing a title. As it showed in 2011, the team clearly needs both Wade and James to be at their best, although the Heat would be able to survive if only LeBron played at his best. It's not a knock on Wade, rather a testament to how much James means to the team.
LeBron had a PER of 30.7; Wade finished with 26.3. Those two weren't about to switch roles unexpectedly like they did in '11. Miami obviously works better when James is leading the way, because he happens to be the more efficient leader. You can say that Dwyane may be a better leader, but LeBron is the better player and the Heat aren't champions without him.
Now that LeBron is finally a champion, he can go back to living the lavish life of any superstar without constant criticism or pressure looming over him. He can now claim the Miami Heat as his, and should be looking to make permanent residence in the city for the rest of his career if all goes according to plan. LeBron is in position to win many more titles and possibly even a few MVP trophies along the way, with Kevin Durant sure to take a few.
Of course, James isn't doing any of this without Dwyane Wade by his side. There was an idea making its rounds on message boards that the Heat may be better off trading Wade for a center. That goes to show how many are uneducated on the effort he adds to this team as the team's second-highest scorer and as another penetrating threat.
However, while James' stock is rising, Wade's stock has hardly taken a hit in either direction. His legacy has obviously taken a turn for the better with two championships to his name, but he's not nearly receiving as much credit as he deserves for helping to win the title, which might be due to how hampered he was throughout the playoffs. More people are inclined to remember his Game 3 against Indiana rather than his Game 6.
Plus, he was overshadowed by LeBron at many key junctures down the stretch. It's nothing that Wade has any problem with, since he personally decided the team would fair better this way, but he has still seen his image remain stagnant, despite winning the second title. In fact, it's been rare to hear about Wade winning his second title, because we've heard so much about LeBron winning his first.
Wade spent seven years in the shadow of LeBron, who overwhelmed every other superstar. If the oblivious nature of the media towards Wade's unbelievable 2008-09 season tells us anything, then it's doubtful Wade is going to have any sort of animosity towards his teammate because he's not receiving as much attention.
Dwyane already knows that LeBron is the superior player. He's still an incredible player, but LeBron is playing at a level that has reached historical levels, so it was only the smart idea for Dwyane to give James the leeway to play comfortably. If he is playing comfortably, then he is playing confident, and that means bad news for the rest of the league.
Wade and the rest of this Heat team knew that LeBron would be bringing a media-circus with him, so this idea of Dwyane possibly holding a grudge towards his superstar teammate is bogus. These two were friends well before they teamed up and they still are, despite having their testing moments on and off the court. If there's anything that's going to bring two teammates together, though, it's success, especially when it's consistent.
If Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant could team up to form one of the most volatile dynasties in NBA history while dealing with all of the internal animosity between each other, then LeBron and Dwyane are going to face little trouble in the chemistry department. These are two mature players who share making significant sacrifices for the purpose of achieving their primary goal of winning a title.
Just because LeBron won a title doesn't mean the Heat are going to think they can waltz their way through the regular season. Each player, as well as the coaches, will be looking to make significant impacts at several facets of the game, including the cohesion between Wade and James, because they all know they have just as large of targets on their backs as they did the previous two years.
If LeBron wanted to win one title, he would have stayed in Cleveland and kept putting up statline's of 44 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists in losses, holding out slight hope that they may catch the rest of the league at a bad time. Instead, LeBron came to Miami to win a number of titles. So, why would we even begin to process the thought that James may find his ego growing to exponential dimensions because he won one title?
The chemistry between James and Wade isn't going to worsen. On the contrary, it's only going to grow between these two as they continue to play together and learn newer, more innovative ways to get each other into a rhythm on offense.
It was painfully obvious just how much better of a rhythm the two played in their second season, partly because of both players taking it to the rim more as well as simply learning from their mistakes and finding ways to correct them by continuing to work at those obstacles that impeded their path. As a result, both players saw their PER rise and began to make plays that consistently worked.
They know they have the potential to become the greatest duo in the history of the game because no team had ever brought two superstars together in their prime. They've already made it two NBA Finals and have won a championship, so there's absolutely no need to worry over whether or not these two are going to find their relationship tattered because one player is finding more success than the other.
Regression isn't even an option at this point. It's not even a thought. The only thing on the mind of every member of the Heat organization is continuing to improve and making this team the dynasty they were meant to become when they signed the 'Big Three'.
Also, look at these two. They don't have the look of two superstars competing for attention. They're here for winning and to have as much fun as they can along the way.
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