Dwyane Wade: ‘I Don’t Know’ If Heat Would’ve Won More Titles If LeBron James StayedDecember 23, 2021
Despite making four straight NBA Finals appearances during their time together as teammates, Dwyane Wade doesn't know if the Miami Heat would have added more banners to the rafters if LeBron James stayed after the 2013-14 season.
Appearing on Jalen Rose's Renaissance Man podcast (starts at 17:30 mark), Wade had this response when asked how many more championships he thinks the Heat would have won if James didn't leave as a free agent:
"I don’t know. That Golden State team was right on our heels. I really don’t know. I wasn’t in my prime anymore. I was outside of my prime about 2014. And so, that would have made it hard for us to really win if I was still going to be a big part of it. Chris Bosh not knowing what he was going to be dealing with later, he was in his prime and LeBron was in his, but I wasn’t in mine anymore. And it would have made it tough to keep going, so I would have really, really had to find health in a big way very quickly to keep competing at that level and because my body was going through so much."
When the Heat added James and Chris Bosh as free agents in the summer of 2010, there was a reasonable assumption that the franchise would be the NBA's next great dynasty.
The on-court results were routinely spectacular, as they won 71.8 percent of their regular-season games (224-88) and back-to-back NBA titles in 2012 and 2013.
There were some cracks in the foundation that really began to show during the 2013-14 season. The team's net rating of plus-5.2 was still good enough for fourth in the NBA, but it was by far the lowest mark of the Heatles era after (8.2 in 2010-11; 6.5 in 2011-12; 8.6 in 2012-13).
Wade missed 28 games during the 2013-14 regular season.
The Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals in five games. San Antonio's four wins in the series came by an average of 18 points.
While the Eastern Conference didn't have much depth at that time, the Western Conference was a nightmare at the top.
The Spurs remained an elite team for three more seasons after the 2014 Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder were at their peak with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and the Warriors were on the verge of becoming a juggernaut after winning 51 games in 2013-14.
James elected to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent in July 2014. He helped the franchise reach four consecutive NBA Finals in each of his four seasons, including a memorable win over Golden State in 2016.
It's a testament to how well the Heat attract talent and develop their own young players that they never really bottomed out after the dissolution of the Big Three. They have made the playoffs four times in the past seven seasons and made it to the 2020 NBA Finals before losing to James and the Los Angeles Lakers.