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Miami’s Big Three: A Matter of Perspective

These guys have turned the basketball world on its ear. What next?
These guys have turned the basketball world on its ear. What next?

The merging of powerhouse forces on one NBA team as they have recently in Miami is a first. Think about it like this: What if the likes of Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell had decided to work together to give themselves the option of playing for the same team back in the 60s? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes, and Julius Erving in the 70s? Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Bernard King in the 80s? Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and Hakeem Olajuwon in the 90s? Shaqiulle O’Neal, Tim Duncan, and Allen Iverson in the 00s? These are all some of the great players from their respective eras. Some of these trios are widely regarded as the greatest players of their eras. Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James could all reasonably go down as the best players of their era, and they all now wear the same uniform—aside from when they play for Team USA or the Eastern All-Star Team.


There are already questions of collusion and possible tampering. The bigger question is: Now that this uber-trio has formed, what does this mean for the NBA? Is a team loaded with this much talent in the primes of their careers good for the League? If you’re lucky enough to be a Miami Heat fan, the answer is a resounding "Yes!" If you’re a fan of any other team, you’ve got to be shouting "Hell no!" Who’s got the right answer here? The answer to this question is not as simple as you may think.


First, I want to look at how LeBron James came to his share of Decision 2010. I expected him to stay in Cleveland, go to New York, or go to Miami—in that order. I had him staying put because of the effect going anywhere else would have on his legacy. He had to know that making the decision to pack his bags would villainize him in Cleveland and every city other than the one he chose. Plus, he still had time and a decent enough supporting cast to compete for and bring that starving city the Championship it so desperately craves. I pegged him to be in a New York state of mind because of the limelight, the signing of Amare Stoudemire (who he reportedly wanted the Cavs to trade for so desperately last season), and how Madison Square Garden has been hailed as the Mecca of basketball. I had him possibly Miami-bound because—if his claims that he only wanted to win were true—teaming up with D-Wade in South Beach was his best option (other than possibly going to Chicago, which he never seemed to consider seriously enough).


Secondly, I want to look at how Wade and Bosh came to their individual decisions. I am putting these two together because it seems apparent to me that they were going to the same place all along and that Wade was in the driver’s seat. This makes all the sense in the world to me because—despite reports that Chris Bosh was going to go wherever LeBron James went. It is now rather reasonable to assume that all along Bosh was going to team up with Wade—whether Wade chose Chicago or Miami. I’m going to lay my fandom aside just this once and admit that the Bulls had the more appealing pre-assembled roster. They already had Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah already inked up and could have possibly traded Luol Deng for even more flexibility. Both Miami and Chicago had Dwyane’s heart and his ex-wife, who lives in Chicago, just got custody of their two young children. Chicago was convenient on so many levels, but Presidential Pat worked some magic and got Miami one thing no other NBA town had. Due to the Daequan Cook trade and the buyout of James Jones’s contract, Miami was the ONLY place that had room under the Salary Cap for Dwyane Wade to stay and to sign both Chris Bosh and LeBron James as free agents.


Now these three guys have exactly what they wanted when they signed three-year extensions to their rookie contracts—they are on the same team. Here’s the thing though: Along with a talent-loaded roster comes loaded expectations. The general consensus is that these guys must win a Championship in 2011 or this was all a huge bust. I am willing to taper my expectations and give them at least a year, but not every fan, sports pundit, or street philosopher will do them that same favor. I’m giving them a year because they will need time to adjust to playing together night in and night out, and with the exception of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, LeBron has no reasonable experience playing with anyone on the current roster. To boot, Chris Bosh does not have a reasonable amount of experience playing with any of them. These things take time.


I am also going to give myself an "if"-laden out. If these guys all dig in and follow the pattern of the 2008 Champion Boston Celtics and play insane defense every night, barring a catastrophic injury, they will be Champs in 2011. Hell, if they are willing to do that, they could even challenge the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ all-time record of 72 wins in a season. See what I mean about expectations?