Breaking Down How the Miami Heat's Big 3 Have Evolved Since 2010
Hit the rewind button and take a trip back to the Miami Heat locker room on Jun. 6 of the 2010-11 season and you'll find the Heat's vaunted Big Three beaten and broken down.
They had just endured a tumultuous season, unlike any other team had ever experienced before. And they had suffered the defeat that everyone outside of the Miami Heat fanbase wanted to see.
The mighty Big Three, that was led by LeBron James' "not one...not two...not three" comments before the season began, had been stopped short of their ultimate goal of an NBA title, and fans everywhere were rejoicing.
Fast-forward back to today, and it's an entire different story for the Heat and their Big Three, and it's not only because they proved that they could win an NBA title with the talent they had.
The perspective on the Big Three hasn't changed because of their accomplishments, or because LeBron James has decided to do his own dunk contests before Miami Heat games.
The reason why things are different for the Big Three is because they changed their attitude and the persona they depicted to the basketball world.
Humility and letting their on-the-court production speak louder than their words is the biggest evolution that the Big Three have made, and it's at the foundation of why they aren't the most hated men in basketball.
Now, on a personal level, let's break down the on-the-court and off-the-court evolution of each member of the Heat's Big Three—starting with the King himself, LeBron James.
The somewhat self-proclaimed King of the Big Three, doomed himself when he declared his intentions to win a few NBA titles short of a million in South Beach.
He also didn't help himself by abandoning the city that gave so much to him, but that's really beside the point.
In addition to his injured ego, LeBron also struggled to find his identity alongside two fellow All-Stars, as evidenced by lower statistical production during the 2010-11 season—26.7 points, 51.0 FG percentage, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists per game.
While his production wasn't awful by any stretch of the imagination, it was a decline from his previous season when he averaged 29.7 points and 8.6 assists per game.
His critics loved to jump on the decrease in productivity as it gave them a foundation to begin to whittle away at his legacy. More than his production, though, was LeBron's inability to hit the big shots and win the big games.
During the 2011 NBA Finals, LeBron averaged just 17.8 points on 47.8 percent shooting. As he walked to the locker room after the Game 6 loss, a transformation began. It was a maturation that we're all seeing the culmination of this season.
Not only did LeBron rebound after his disappointing season by winning the 2012 NBA MVP, 2012 NBA title and the 2012 NBA NBA Finals MVP. He also became a more mature player, in that he stopped caring about what the world thought of him.
In an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, LeBron talked about this transformation, and we've certainly seen it's continuation on the court this season; he has averaged of 27.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game, while shooting 56.4 percent from the floor.
LeBron's statistical increases may seem trivial, but when you're playing at such an elite level, with a massive target on your back, those increases become that much more significant.
His evolution isn't complete, though. It's in the early stages of growth, and that's what makes his future so exciting to think about.
Not only was Wade the main man in Miami for all the years before LeBron and Bosh came to town, South Beach was, in all honesty, his town; the Heat were his team.
That wasn't easy to give up, and it's certainly an understandable reason why the Heat were unable to win an NBA title in their first season together.
It's not that Wade was a selfish player, because he's anything but that.
The problem was that Wade never played on the same court with anyone on LeBron's level before, and learning to do that doesn't happen overnight, and it isn't necessarily glamorous.
For Wade, helping the Heat win meant learning to decrease his role on the team, and that transition is easiest to see in Wade's offensive production since LeBron and Bosh came to town.
2010-11—25.5 points on 18.2 field-goal attempts per game
2011-12—22.1 points on 17.1 field-goal attempts per game
2012-13—21.5 points on 16.1 field-goal attempts per game
While Wade's production went down, it meant that he was finding out how to fit into the role the Heat needed him to, which was to play side-kick to LeBron.
It's hard to say that Wade's playing the best basketball of his career, but it's easy to say and see that he's playing the most efficient ball in years, and that's at the foundation of evolution.
Much like Wade, Bosh's evolution took form in a decrease in production and "importance," but it's increased his overall success.
Instead of seeing a jump in production, Bosh has decreased his offensive and defensive production over the past three seasons.
2009-10 (Pre Heat)—24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds on 16.5 field-goal attempts per game
2010-11—18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds on 13.7 field-goal attempts per game
2011-12—18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds on 14.2 field-goal attempts per game
2012-13—16.9 points and 7.1 rebounds on 12.3 field-goal attempts per game
Bosh' s production has taken a serious hit, but it's because he's not the Heat's first option like he was for the Toronto Raptors. While Bosh's difficulty with this transition didn't seem as challenging, it still took quite some time to adjust to.
Throw in the fact that Bosh had to evolve into becoming a center, rather than the power forward that he truly is.
The best part of Bosh's evolution is that you never heard him complain about it, and you never heard him say anything but positive things about his teammates.
Bosh is the definition of a true teammate, and his ability to support those around him certainly rubbed off on the future Hall of Famers playing alongside him.
While each member of the Big Three have evolved on an individual level, their transformations have impacted each other and their growth as one collective unit.
The Heat hope that their continued evolution includes winning the 2013 NBA title, and if their 12-1 February record is an indicator of what's to come, I'd say an NBA title isn't out of reach.
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