The Miami Heat celebrated its 2013 NBA Finals victory in style Monday, riding double-decker buses through the streets of South Beach before taking to the air conditioned American Airlines Arena to finish the party.
The parade marked the second-straight year Heat fans could flock to the streets following the events of the Finals and the third-straight year Miami has had a shot at the Larry O'Brien trophy.
With another title next year, we're talking about anointing this group in the same breath as the Los Angeles Lakers of the early 2000s, the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s or the Boston Celtics of old. Miami is already making waves with respect to their Eastern Conference counterparts (via ESPN's Stats & Info):
The Miami Heat are enjoying their championship parade today. They are the 1st Eastern Conf team to repeat as champs since the '96-98 Bulls.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 24, 2013
The trio now has two championships together, and Wade has a third on his own. But before Miami's heroics in Game 6, it looked like the James/Wade/Bosh connection was losing at least one member this offseason.
It's funny how one win (or two, if you count Game 6) can completely turn a once-prominent thought into a distant memory. That's exactly what the 2013 title should do with respect to breaking up the South Beach AllStars.
The title and parade should help Pat Riley and company keep this thing together for at least one more season.
I mean come on—even the team's 68-year-old general manager was moving and grooving with the beat in Miami Monday afternoon (GIF via B/R's live piece):
All jokes aside, Riley didn't assemble this trio to break them up in the middle of one of the greatest streaks of three-year collective performances we've seen in quite some time. ESPN's Michael Wallace discussed that a little bit with this piece he shared via Twitter:
Wallace: Riley didn't spend 3 years plotting for Big 3 to break it up in midst of title runs http://t.co/hBSdsO5pDR— Michael Wallace (@WallaceNBA_ESPN) June 22, 2013
Despite the high cap number Miami faces by keeping all three (Bosh and James will make roughly $19 million, Wade will make roughly $18.5 million), titles will trump the green.
The results speak for themselves.
Although the confetti, cigar smoke and excitement released into the air in Miami Monday would beg to differ, there was once a time (in two separate series, mind you) that the Heat looked destined to start the conversation about which star should be traded away.
Miami split games with Indiana until its Game 7 victory over the Pacers at home. But the Pacers have gained ground on Miami since the two teams faced in the playoffs in 2012, and an upset was brewing if you watched certain parts of the series.
Had Indiana made the NBA Finals, ESPN's Linda Cohn quietly pondered to where media attention would be drawn in a Heatless series:
Dont be surprised if an Indiana/S.A NBA finals has to share the media's attention with "Is this the end of Big 3 in Miami? #game7— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) June 3, 2013
But Miami made it out of the Eastern Conference Finals only to face those questions again in the form of the San Antonio Spurs taking Game 1 and holding a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6.
Throughout the series, the only constant had been James' lights-out performances, while the duo of Wade and Bosh had struggled to come up with anything resembling consistency as a unit behind their fearless leader.
Both showed up big in a supporting role in Game 6, as Bosh (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Wade (14 points, four rebounds, four assists) did enough to justify their role as Robins to James' Batman.
Bosh (zero points) didn't provide the same spark in the clincher last Thursday, but Wade certainly did, posting a points-rebounds (23-10) double-double and upping Manu Ginobili in a battle of players who have now both been to the Finals four times.
How can you break up the Big Three after this victory? Better yet, how can you break up the celebration that has now followed twice after these victories?
Riley won't make decisions based on an end-of-the-year party. And he shouldn't—that wouldn't be good business nor make sense for the long-term stability of this franchise.
Riley will have to at least broach the uncomfortable conversation of trading one of his current stars. Since James is the most untradable player in basketball, that leaves the best player in franchise history (Wade) and maybe the most love-him-or-hate-him player in franchise history (Bosh).
Bosh certainly is the most tradable, but Bradford Doolittle (via NBA on ESPN on Twitter) is among those who thinks Riley should rethink his strategy if it includes using Bosh as a bargaining chip this summer:
With a payroll that could exceed $85 million (via HoopsHype) if all the player options stick around (and that doesn't include signing playoff hero Chris "Birdman" Andersen), it's not out of the realm of possibilities that Miami at least broaches the idea of a potential trade.
What should Riley do this offseason?
The Big Three are also the team's best and only assets if you look at it on paper, although Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole are both young pieces to keep an eye on in any deal. As it is, the Heat should prioritize this feeling of bliss from Monday when it comes to any offseason deal.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And nothing is broken right now after two titles in three seasons of Big Three ball.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.