According to Forbes the highest paid NBA players in 2015, excluding the retired Kobe Bryant, were (dollars in millions),
James and Wade are the only two players on the list with any championship rings. Also both of them are the only players to wear Miami Heat jerseys, and five of the six rings were won while competing in Heat uniforms.
This season 7 of the top 9 earners, based on salary plus other income, have never won a single championship in their entire career. Some players on the San Antonio Spurs roster have four rings, yet none are included in the table above.
Hands down, Pat Riley leads the field in leading and building championship teams, because he chases rings, not dollars.
The late Muhammed Ali valued his principles and legacy, ahead of money. The Heat have an opportunity this coming season to form a "Big 3" of Wade, Durant, and Hassan Whiteside, perhaps even a "Big 4" if Chris Bosh is medically cleared to play.
Whiteside's willingness to be flexible in his contract demonstrates he never forgot that he came up from the bottom and is financially set for life when his new contract is signed. The frosting on his cake would be to win a championship, and prove his doubters wrong once and for all.
At Durant's age, he still has a chance get his three rings as the Heat's main option on offense, and return to his place as the league's leading scorer, if he decides to join the team.
Whether or not Durant comes to Miami, the Heat have a bright future with the young trio of Whiteside, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. With the salary cap set to rise again next year, they will have more chances to stock the bench with quality talent and perhaps even another max player should Chris Bosh be forced into medical retirement.
If history is any guide, Riley and Erik Spoelstra have shown the ability find valuable players in the NBA D-League, with perhaps more potential treasures to be found there this year.
Summer League may yield another Tyler Johnson, who the Heat can develop into a key asset for a title team in Miami.