LeBron James is the best player in the world. He has won four of the past five MVP awards, can score in virtually every way possible and may be the most impressive athlete to ever enter the league.
There is a lot to envy.
Despite free agency and the freedom that comes with being a young millionaire, few athletes are as well-positioned as James has become. Few wake up every day with as much to be thankful for.
Other players can never dream to have LeBron's skill set or his athleticism, but you can bet that plenty across the league wish they could change places with him.
They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but when it comes to James, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for other superstars to be green with envy.
LeBron Chose His Own Destiny to Team Up with the Best
"There's no way, with hindsight," said Michael Jordan at the time, according to ESPN, "I would've ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team.'"
The players populating the league these days, however, don't share that sentiment.
Deron Williams was doing the same, making his way to New Jersey, where he hoped to soon join forces with Dwight Howard—who wanted out of Orlando because his supporting cast lacked talent.
It hasn't really worked out for anyone else, however.
Each remains the top dog on a flawed team. None of the aforementioned All-Stars made it to the conference finals this season; only Carmelo even made the second round.
In a league where stars seem to wield all the power, only James has been able to uproot himself from an unenviable situation and truly put himself in a position to compete for a title.
LeBron Plays for an Innovative, Smart Coach
In creating his own future, James didn't just get to play where and with whom he wanted. He also, perhaps unknowingly at the time, landed with one of the league's best coaches.
Wade and Bosh have been the perfect complements to LeBron's talents, but another key component in constructing this budding dynasty has been Erik Spoelstra, the architect who has built a way to play that is virtually unstoppable.
James and Wade have paired to create the most dominant wing duo since Jordan and Scottie Pippen, using their individual brilliance to score at will in the half court and their collective athleticism to get easy baskets in transition.
That was all well and good, but it didn't lead to a title in year one.
No, it wasn't until Spoelstra figured out how to best incorporate so much skill into so small of a half court that this team really reached its full potential.
Largely because Bosh is such an excellent shooter, Spoelstra has been able to spread the floor with role-playing marksmen and turn the creative abilities of his two wings into an offense that cannot be contained.
Now, they attack the basket until they meet too much resistance, and then simply turn and pass to open shooters. At times, it almost seems too easy for James, a player gifted with nearly unparalleled court vision, the strength to make any play and the size to find passing angles that nobody else in the league can.
It was an ambitious offensive transition.
Now that it has so clearly worked, it seems like a no-brainer. But it was a somewhat revolutionary decision by Spoelstra, and this new "pace and space" scheme has been—after talent—the largest component in the team's success.
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It's official: Ray Allen is a member of the NBA Champion Heat: http://t.co/oLWEpqiE7/11/2012, 3:38:22 PM
Everyone Wants to Play for Miami
The best just keeps getting better.
It's a loophole in the salary cap, really, but there is no way to stop it; put simply, veterans will always be willing to take a pay cut for a chance at a championship.
We have seen it in other locations, but it is likely to become a staple team-building strategy in Miami that the team will rely on for years to come.
Ray Allen is the most prominent example.
He left Boston to play for the rival Heat for a chance to hang another banner. It's hard to blame him. His financial future is set, so why not move to Miami to play with the best?
Before him, it was Mike Miller.
He didn't take the type of pay cut that Allen did, but each seemed willing to bend over backward to play for the Heat. They wanted to be there. And you can add Rashard Lewis to that list.
Don't expect this to stop.
Every year until the Big Three gets too old to compete for a title, we are likely to see another former All-Star sign on to go along for the ride.
LeBron Has Pat Riley
If the chance for success naturally attracts players like Allen, James also has one of the other best lures in the NBA: Pat Riley. At this point, Riley is almost like Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part II; his status is unassailable and there is no power play that seems too big for him to make.
He has a charisma and a presence that helps convince any fence-sitters that Miami is the place for them.
It isn't just smoke and mirrors, however.
Riley still knows how to build a team the ol' fashioned way.
While Chris Andersen was sitting on the scrap heap all season with no team calling his agent, Riley was the one who picked up the phone. He saw a chink in his team's armor and realized that Birdman was the perfect player to bolster his frontcourt.
Now, instead of having to turn to players like Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard or Dexter Pittman when he needs an extra big on the floor—as was the case in last year's playoffs—Spoelstra can just put in the Birdman.
Without Riley's ability to identify—and sign—talent, this team would be sorely lacking frontcourt depth. That shouldn't be rare, but most superstars play their whole careers under GMs who cannot match Riley's acumen.
In a league where many GMs make moves to make headlines and preserve their jobs, LeBron has a guy in his corner who knows how to build championships.
LeBron Plays in Miami
I'm sure they are both lovely cities, but very few future NBA superstars hope to get drafted and emulate James Harden's career. Nobody is saying "I hope I get to live in Oklahoma City or Houston someday."
The same applies to Cleveland.
But LeBron got out of that environment—and put himself in a city that has no equal in terms of being a haven for young millionaires. Sure, New York and Los Angeles have something that Miami doesn't, but those metropolises don't have South Beach.
And they do have state taxes.
Even worse, they have rabid, annoying media outlets that make it seem like the world lives and dies with their teams' performance. Miami, on the other hand, has other things to worry about—like getting sand out of its shoes.
For LeBron, Miami is the perfect place.
He will never be away from national scrutiny and his market certainly places a lot of pressure on him, but it isn't a historic basketball hotbed the likes of that which exists in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or Boston.
Looking at his teammates, his coach, his general manager and the Heat's ability to attract talent, it's easy to see why LeBron James is the envy of superstars around the league.
In so many ways, his life's a beach.
South Beach is just the cherry on top.
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