Posts Tagged: LeBron James


League MVP. Finals MVP. NBA champion. Olympic gold medalist.

Over the past nine months, LeBron James has had one of the most remarkable stretches in the history of basketball. Yet unless he captures another NBA title next season, his time in Miami—and quite possibly his entire career to this point—may ultimately be seen as a disappointment.

Not everyone believes in legacies, but those of us who do recognize that they are that much harder to shape when the expectations are abnormally high.

There are many—even those who know James best—who have already started to make the inevitable comparisons to Michael Jordan. At this point, it’s a bit premature to make such analogies, especially since we have the luxury of Jordan’s entire body of work to use as a reference.

That said, with nine seasons already in the books, James is possibly closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning. The 2012-13 season could very well be James’ best chance to win a second championship, and if he does, even his most ardent critics won’t be able to deny his status among the game’s all-time greats.

Nearly every legend in NBA history led his respective team to multiple titles, and those who didn’t—Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West—are two of the greatest singular talents the game has ever seen.

James will never put up the Paul Bunyan-esque stats of Chamberlain, nor is it likely that he’ll ever assume the mantle of “Mr. Clutch.” So instead, James’ legacy will largely be defined by how many rings he has in his jewelry box when all is said and done.

The number of championships that someone wins isn’t the sole criterion that defines greatness, but a player cannot truly be considered elite without an acceptable amount of hardware. For example, Karl Malone, John Stockton and Charles Barkley aren’t known as merely great players, but rather great players who never won a title.

Once the confetti fell from the upper levels of the American Airlines Arena this past June, James distanced himself from that trio forever. But after two seasons in Miami, he has only accomplished the bare minimum of what most had expected him to.

The moment James decided to take his talents to South Beach, anything less than at least one NBA championship would have been a complete and utter failure.

Barkley is well aware of what titles—and specifically, the lack of them—can do for one’s legacy. As such, he knows that a single championship ring won’t suffice for the man referred to as “King James.”

"He’s got to win multiple championships to make that situation work, at least two,"Barkley told AOL Fanhouse in the summer of 2010 shortly after “The Decision.” “[If not], his legacy is going to take a serious hit.”

One title simply isn’t good enough for a man who was anointed as “The Chosen One" by Sports Illustrated at the age of 17. Even if James hadn’t made his now-infamous “not one, not two, not three…" pledge, the onus still would have been on him to lead multiple parades down Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard.

The banner for the 2012 NBA title hasn’t even been raised to the rafters, yet many are already clamoring for a repeat performance. It should be noted that winning back-to-back championships is a difficult feat, even in the parity-starved NBA.

But if Miami does find a way to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy next summer, James will cement his status as one of the 15 greatest players in the history of the game.

Individual accolades are no longer important. James can win all of the MVP awards and scoring titles that he desires, but only a second championship will vault him to NBA immortality.


Miami’s LeBron James already has three MVP awards, and if his 2012-13 campaign is anything like his performance from this past year, he’ll need to clear space on his mantle for a fourth trophy.

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant has yet to capture the NBA's highest individual honor, but some believe that he should have taken home the hardware last season.

With James and Durant clearly distinguishing themselves from the rest of the pack in the Association, which player is the odds-on favorite to win the MVP next year?

It’s a legitimate debate, to be sure. After all, Durant has won three consecutive scoring titles, and the 23-year-old forward might be the toughest person to guard in the league.

In Game 1 of June’s NBA Finals, Durant scored 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and outplayed James in the Thunder’s 105-94 victory. The performance made it clear that one day down the road, Durant will replace James as the standard-bearer for the NBA.

We’re a long way from that day, however.

Whether you use the “best player on the best team” argument or the judging criteria of the “most talented player in the league,” James wins on both fronts.

We have never seen anyone as versatile on offense as LeBron James. He has the court vision and passing ability of Magic Johnson, the athleticism of Michael Jordan and the strength and build of Karl Malone. It’s as if James is a created player in NBA 2K12 with most of the attributes jacked up to 100.

Those who believe that Durant has the inside track on the 2012-13 MVP award are at least partially oblivious to the fact that James was nothing short of otherworldly last season. James—who won’t turn 28 until December 30—averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game last year while shooting a remarkable 53.1 percent from the floor.

His Player Efficiency Rating of 30.8 in 2011-12 was markedly higher than Durant’s PER of 26.26. Quite simply, James fills up the stat sheet like no one else in the NBA.

Defensively, while Durant isn’t as bad of a defender as some make him out to be, James is still head and shoulders above his Oklahoma City counterpart. The Miami forward’s defensive rating of 97 points per 100 possessions is staggeringly good, and the 6’8”, 250-pound James is capable of guarding all five positions.

There’s no reason to believe that James can’t carry his level of play into next season. Not only is he in the midst of his prime, but the team around him improved with the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. With two legitimate three-point threats forcing opponents to guard the perimeter that much tighter, it should be open season for James to attack the basket on a regular basis.

However, it would be naive to think that Durant won’t become a better player by the time opening night rolls around. He’s been impressive this summer for the U.S. Men’s National Team, and the sting of the finals loss will only serve to provide him with a never-ending source of motivation.

James, meanwhile, is playing with house money at this point. With the pressure of winning an NBA title finally off of his back, he can go out and play his game without the white-hot glare of the media focusing on his every move.

With the rest of the league gunning for the Miami Heat, a second consecutive title for the franchise isn’t necessarily a given. Even still, a second straight MVP award for LeBron James is almost a certainty.


When LeBron James first announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach, he instantly became the most reviled figure in the NBA.

Less than two years later, he isn’t even the most hated person on his team.

That title now belongs to Dwyane Wade—a man who has firmly entrenched himself as the league’s most notorious villain seemingly overnight. Wade’s on-court persona this season is a marked departure from the cordial, engaging figure that we often see away from the arena.

Initially, it seemed as though the vitriol directed at Wade was merely collateral damage related to “The Decision.” But after a number of incidents over the past several months, it’s clear that the Miami Heat superstar is now public enemy No. 1 in the Association.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the narrative changed on Wade.

Prior to the infamous welcoming party/light show/pose-fest announcing the formation of Miami’s “Three Kings,” Wade was generally regarded as a mild-mannered, ultra-competitive talent who appeared to be a bit more accessible than your typical NBA player.

These days, the Heat’s all-everything shooting guard might very well be the most ruthless Miami resident since Tony Montana ran the streets of Little Havana.

Wade has been staring down opposing players and making snide remarks in postgame press conferences for the better part of his career. In the run-up to the 2012 NBA Finals, however, he’s done everything in his power to disqualify himself from any “Sportsman of the Year” awards.

In the first round, Wade tossed an opponent’s shoe toward the stands and earlier this season, he gave Chicago Bulls guard Rip Hamilton a forearm shiver that would have made Ric Flair proud.

And we can’t forget his body check on Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. If that had happened in the NHL, Wade might have earned himself a game misconduct penalty.

While it doesn’t excuse his actions, perhaps this is all nothing more than a well-calculated gambit by Wade. After all, the 6’4” guard told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in December that he would gladly assume the villain role this season if it meant that James would become more assertive on offense.

Ever since linking up in Miami two summers ago, Wade and James have had something of a big brother/little brother relationship. The 30-year-old Wade has been effusive in his praise of his 27-year-old running mate, often saying that he wants to win a title more for LeBron than he does for himself.

It isn’t far-fetched to think that Wade—a man somewhat insulated from criticism thanks to his 2006 NBA championship ring—offered to shoulder the burden of the slings and arrows that would be directed toward his Heat teammates this season.

Or maybe it isn’t that at all.

Maybe, just maybe, somewhere in those deep, dark recesses of Wade’s soul lies the heart of someone who simply relishes in being the man that everyone loves to hate.

This is, after all, the same player who mocked Dirk Nowitzki’s sickness before Game 5 of the NBA Finals last June. And less than four months later—in the midst of a contentious labor dispute—Wade and NBA commissioner David Stern had a heated exchange that nearly led to the demise of the entire 2011-12 season.

In a late December contest against the Charlotte Bobcats, Wade hit a gorgeous, game-winning bank shot with 2.9 seconds left that gave the Heat a 96-95 victory. Following the basket, he noticed Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton sitting at courtside and mimicked Newton’s “Superman” touchdown celebration.

There was only one problem with Wade’s demonstration, however: Superman happens to be a hero.

While Wade is more than capable of providing his fair share of heroics once he takes off his (lensless) glasses, he makes little effort in presenting himself as a model citizen on the court. As we’ve seen this season, he’s grown quite comfortable in his role as the NBA’s most despised villain.

Say hello to the bad guy.


Earlier today, LeBron James posted on Twitter a link to a photo of himself and many of his Miami Heat teammates wearing hooded sweatshirts: a bold statement in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The picture was accompanied by the following hashtags: #WeAreTrayvonMartin #Hoodies #Stereotyped #WeWantJustice.

Martin was a 17-year-old boy who was shot and killed three weeks ago by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader in Sanford, Florida who thought that the teen looked suspicious. At the time of his death, Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and was reportedly carrying a pack of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea.

The incident—for various reasons—has been the talk of virtually every media outlet over the past couple of weeks. To date, Zimmerman has never been arrested or charged with any crime related to the shooting.

In an era where many players are loath to offer their opinion on any subject outside of their particular arena, it is, in some ways, refreshing to see an athlete do what James (and his teammates) did earlier today.

Muhammad Ali was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam War. Bill Russell championed for civil rights during his entire NBA career. But recently, many athletes have chosen to stand on the sidelines when it comes to social issues, perhaps afraid that their responses will turn away potential sponsors.

For years, Michael Jordan failed to speak out against the sweatshops that made his signature shoes. And though we’ll never know whether Jordan’s considerable celebrity could have led to improved working conditions in those factories, his silence on the issue was deafening.

Now is it James’ responsibility to throw his weight behind the hot-button issues of the day? No. And none of us would we have faulted him if he had remained neutral in this situation.

But in the case of Trayvon Martin, James decided to take a stand. And without uttering a single word, he spoke volumes.


Less than one week after it began, the 2011-‘12 NBA season is merely a formality.

Typically, three games is not nearly enough time to come to any sort of conclusion about a team’s outlook for an entire season.

In the case of the Miami Heat, normal conventions can be thrown out of the window.

A year later than many had originally expected, the official coronation of the Miami Heat will finally take place this summer. Feel free to pay attention during the regular season, but the show truly won’t get underway until sometime in early May.

Mark your calendars now.

The number of games Miami will win during the regular season is irrelevant. The very nature of the compressed schedule this season will cause the Heat to lose to teams that are far less talented.

But when the playoffs come around, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of their teammates are going to destroy everything that stands between them and the NBA title.

Why? Because no one can stop them.

The Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics are already showing their age. The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of turmoil. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls represent the only true competition, but both must battle youth and inexperience in order to get to the mountaintop.

The Heat already knows what it takes to get there and if critics are a motivating factor, then Miami has more than enough fuel for their journey.

It’s only fitting that Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” is the soundtrack for the team’s intro video this season.

The blinding, white-hot lights of the NBA have all shone on the Heat ever since James proclaimed he was taking his talents to Ocean Drive some 17 months ago.

Last year, they endured “Bumpgate” and “Crygate.” There were those who proclaimed them the “3 Kings" and others who created T-shirts to express their disdain for the Miami trio.

But this isn’t the same team that was two victories shy of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy last June. There is a certain inconvenient truth that many are slow to embrace, despite the evidence we’ve seen thus far this season.

During the lockout, the Miami Heat got better.

Not only does James boast an improved post game, but he’s a much more efficient scorer than ever before. Through three games this season, James hasn’t even attempted a three-pointer, yet he’s still averaging 32.7 points per night.

Wade has been an absolute terror defensively, and has greatly improved his playmaking skills on offense. Bosh added 15-20 pounds to his frame during the offseason—bulk that will allow him to be more physical in the low post.

Even head coach Erik Spolestra improved, taking the lessons learned from last season to craft an entirely new offensive strategy. Miami’s “pace and space” attack maximizes the team’s opportunities in the transition game—an area in which they excelled in 2010-‘11. The new philosophy led to 31 fast-break points against the Dallas Mavericks in the season opener.

Critics will argue the Heat may falter this season after failing to address the center position during free agency. However, according to Hoopdata, Miami held opponents to the lowest field-goal percentage in the league last season in shots attempted at the rim (58 percent).

So with interior defense not an issue and Wade, James and Bosh providing 65 to 70 percent of the scoring output each night, how much more does Miami need from the 5 position?

Point guard is still an area of weakness for the Heat, despite Norris Cole’s 20-point coming-out party against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 27.

But again, how much does that really matter? With Mario Chalmers and Mike Bibby as its primary ball-handlers, the Heat made it to Game 6 of the NBA Finals last season.

In crucial situations, either James or Wade typically initiate the offense and the point guard is nothing more than a safety valve incase the play breaks down. More than anything, the Heat needs a competent playmaker so Wade and James don’t expend too much energy working for baskets during the first three quarters.

The two already spend their fair share of energy on the defensive end, which is why the Heat acquired Shane Battier this offseason. A solid defender who can play multiple positions, Battier will take some of the onus off of Wade and James to guard the opposing team’s best wing player.

Even with a 3-0 start, the newly configured Heat is still a work in progress. In fact, their near-loss to the Bobcats might have been their most impressive win to date.

Down by 15 at halftime, Miami looked every bit a team playing its third game in four nights. But at the start of the third quarter, the second inconvenient truth about the Heat became apparent for all to see.

When Miami is playing at its absolute best, there is no other team in the NBA that can match them.

Bosh and James had their way with the Bobcats after intermission, scoring 35 of their 60 points after halftime. But it was Wade who after missing the third quarter due to a bruised left foot, sank a bank shot with 2.9 seconds to go to put the Heat up 96-95.

After hitting the eventual game-winner, Wade turned to Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton (who was sitting courtside) and emulated Newton’s “Superman” touchdown celebration.

Without provocation, James mimicked Wade’s gesture. The only thing missing was the phone booth.

Heroic theatrics aside, the Miami Heat are referred to as a “superteam” for a reason. Simply put, the things they can do on the court necessitate the use of superlatives.

By the end of the season, however, there won’t be any need to use flowery language when describing the Miami Heat. In fact, two words will suffice.

World Champions.


Two days before his now-infamous confrontation with NBA commissioner David Stern, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade made a far more important statement during an interview with Yahoo! Sports last week.

When asked how much he would be paid in a system without a salary cap structure, Wade responded: “I’m sure [the bidding] would get to $50 million.”

Wade—who earned $14 million in 2010-11—essentially said that he was underpaid last season.

Even though it’s a hard sell in today’s economy, he’s absolutely right.

In theory, most people who create revenue for for-profit entities are not paid according to their true financial value. If corporations compensated everyone for how much money they actually bring into the company, many businesses would struggle to stay afloat.

Despite their impressive salaries and often exorbitant bonuses, successful CEOs couldn’t possibly be paid in accordance with the profit they generate each year—that financial structure simply isn’t economically viable.

From a basketball perspective, it’s difficult to accurately quantify the value that a player like Wade brings to the Miami Heat (and to the NBA, for that matter). However, between ticket sales, merchandising, television and radio contracts and other marketing/promotional ventures, Wade had far more than a $14 million impact to the Heat’s financial statements last season.

If Wade’s assertion that he and other superstars are worth $50 million is correct, no team in the league could feasibly pay them that amount of money. The only way it could happen is in the absence of a salary cap structure—a move that would threaten the competitive balance of the entire NBA.

When Michael Jordan earned $63 million during his final two seasons with the Chicago Bulls, many people considered it “back pay” for the previous nine years of his career when he was paid a total of $25 million. In reality, $63 million didn’t come close Jordan’s true value to both the Bulls and to the NBA as a whole during that time period.

The economic system in the NBA isn’t perfect. It doesn’t take much effort to find at least one player on every roster who doesn’t generate as much revenue as he was paid last season.

By that same token, there are those in the corporate world who are compensated well, but aren’t all that valuable to their organization. It happens, but it doesn’t necessarily happen by design.

Again, Wade’s words won’t engender much sympathy among most fans, especially with an unemployment rate in excess of nine percent. It’s hard to convince people that a basketball player who earns $14 million a year deserves to be paid more when there are hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers and firefighters who are grossly underpaid.

Is an excellent teacher more important to society than a shooting guard who averaged 24.5 points per game in the NBA last season? Probably. But in our economic system, people are largely paid for their impact to a company’s bottom line, not solely for their contributions to the greater good.

If Wade and other superstars truly felt that they needed to be compensated fairly, their only recourse would be to reform the current salary structure. It isn’t likely that another entity—say, some team overseas—will give them the same financial security offered to them in the NBA.

That wasn’t Wade point, however. He wasn’t complaining about his station in life, nor was he asking for a bigger contract. He was merely stating the truth.

These labor negotiations aren’t about him or LeBron James or most of the other players who sat down with Stern and several league owners this past weekend. The superstars will always get their money. It just won’t be as much as they may be entitled to.


The similarities are impossible to ignore. 

After years of playing in front of sold-out arenas on their own, two of the greatest talents of our generation chose to join forces last summer.

Although the move had a seismic impact on their industry, their debut collaboration—while impressive—left fans and onlookers wanting more.

The above statements apply to hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Kanye West, collectively known as “The Throne.” But they also apply to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.

When James and Wade decided to link up in South Florida last July, the shock wave of their respective announcements reverberated across the entire NBA. With two superstars of their caliber on the same team, it was nearly impossible not to imagine the possibility (or was it probability?) of them collecting title after title, leaving dozens of would-be rulers strewn in their wake.

Yet more than a year later, we’re still watching the throne, waiting for the Miami Heat to make their ascent to the NBA’s monarchy.


"We’re just finishing our breakfast, honestly."

— LeBron James, when asked about closing out the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2011 Eastern Conference Playoffs


The above quote is a reference to “Public Service Announcement”, a song in which Jay-Z relays a story about how his friend Strick (former playground legend John “Franchise” Strickland) once told him “Dude, finish your breakfast.”

In both instances, the phrase referred to taking care of business on the basketball court. But while James has done that on several occasions, he still has yet to do so on the game’s brightest stage: The NBA Finals.

At only 26 years of age, James still has plenty of time to capture that elusive ring. In just eight seasons in the NBA, he has already crafted a Hall of Fame-worthy resume: seven All-Star appearances, five All-NBA First Team nods, two MVP trophies, and a scoring crown for good measure.

When all is said and done, James—much like Jay-Z—could have a rightful claim to the mythical “greatest ever” crown. And much like the former hustler from Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects, James has often been accused of “mailing it in” at times.

It could be said that LeBron’s performance in the 2010 NBA Playoffs was his “Kingdom Come” moment, similar to Jay-Z’s disappointing 2006 album of the same name. James’ play against the Celtics during that postseason was so out-of-character, it led Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert to later say that James “quit” on the team.

Of course, Gilbert made those comments in the aftermath of “The Decision.” Gilbert, perhaps more so than the rest of us, is fully aware of what LeBron James is capable of on the basketball court.

After being lambasted by fans and media members alike for not being clutch, James closed out the Heat’s series with the Celtics and Bulls this postseason with ferocity none of us had ever seen before.

But against the Dallas Mavericks, he often deferred to his teammates—behavior not normally befitting a man who proclaimed himself “King James” before he was even drafted into the NBA. Fortunately for James, he had a teammate who was used to performing under the white-hot lights of the world’s biggest stage.


Class back in session, so I upped it a grade

In two years, Dwayne Wayne became Dwyane Wade…

— Kanye West, “The Glory”


The Miami Heat’s 2006 championship run was Wade’s magnum opus, his “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, if you will. He had already garnered numerous accolades since arriving in the league in 2003, but by capturing a title three years later, Wade solidified his place among the NBA elite.

Just as many critics stated that “Watch The Throne” was a Kanye West album featuring Jay-Z, the 2010-11 Miami Heat were clearly Dwyane Wade’s team, with a healthy dose of LeBron James.

Like West, Wade is at the top of his craft right now, performing at a level that few (if any) can match in the modern era. Statistically, he was the best player in the Finals, averaging 26.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 5.2 APG. And despite James’ place in the pantheon of NBA history, it’s no secret that Wade has been playing the “big brother” role on the Heat—openly chastising James for not being aggressive enough versus the Mavericks.

Wade’s 3-plus seasons alongside an aging (but still effective) Shaquille O’Neal gave him a perspective that his running mate didn’t have coming into the year; the best player James ever played with in Cleveland was Carlos Boozer, who subsequently left for Utah shortly after LeBron’s rookie season.

Wade stayed above the fray during Bumpgate, Crygate and the other controversies that followed “The Heatles” throughout the season. But in the playoffs he had an edge about him, a swagger more suited to “The Chosen One.” 

Before Game 5 of the Finals, he (along with James) mocked Dirk Nowitzki’s fever/sinus infection, and boasted to the world “we’re giving you all some classics”, despite the fact that the Mavericks had clearly taken control of the series at that point.

Perhaps this was a side of Wade that had been there all along, a bravado that exposed itself once he and James got a chance to run together in The Magic City. After the events of this past June, it will take more than just magic for many fans to warm up to him again.


Sorry I’m in pajamas, but I just got off the PJ

And last party we had, they shut down Prive

Ain’t that where the Heat play? [They] hate ballers these days…

Ain’t that like LeBron James? Ain’t that just like D-Wade?

— Jay-Z/Kanye West, “Gotta Have It”


Maybe we’re all somewhat at fault here. When James decided to take his considerable talents to South Beach, perhaps we expected too much out of them.

Of course, the welcoming party/laser show the Heat decided to hold two days later really didn’t help matters. Nor did James’ infamous proclamation that Miami would win “not one, not two, not three…” titles—an announcement made shortly after the “3 Kings" posed and flexed like bodybuilders in the middle of American Airlines Arena.

Three summers earlier, the Boston Celtics put together the blueprint for the “super team,” and we saw it work to perfection. Each of the core players on that unit were older than the “Big 3” of the Miami Heat, so why shouldn’t we have expected James, Wade and Chris Bosh to run roughshod over the entire NBA?

So perhaps it’s their fault—maybe they just can’t work well together.

Wade and James have been alpha dogs ever since they first played organized basketball, and other than international competitions, neither has had to defer to anyone else on the court. As such, they basically had to learn how to operate when the offense didn’t flow through them the majority of the time.

That said, in their first season together, they came within two wins of capturing the NBA title.

What they achieved this past season was impressive by any stretch of the imagination. But for many, it wasn’t impressive enough.

In sports parlance, the team that won the most recent championship is the one that everyone considers to be the gold standard in their respective league. If heavy is the head that wears the crown, Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of his Dallas teammates are burdened with the expectations that come with defending the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Unfortunately, with the uncertainty surrounding the league’s labor negotiations, there’s no telling when that defense will actually begin. If recent news is any indication, it may be some time before James and Wade will be able to make their next move in the NBA’s game of thrones. One thing is for certain, though.

We’ll be watching.


Legendary poet Gil Scott-Heron was wrong. The revolution will not only be televised, but it is happening as we speak.

It didn’t begin this past July as many people have suggested. No… This started long before “The Decision.” The genesis of this movement came way before Cleveland Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert took to his computer to type 421 words of vitriol in Comic Sans font. 

See, the seeds of the revolution were planted in the minds of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh several years ago. 

Truth be told, this was all started by Danny Ainge

Back in the summer of 2007, the oft-maligned Celtics GM acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in separate blockbuster deals. The duo, along with Celtics’ stalwart Paul Pierce, combined to create one of the more imposing trios in basketball history. 

The following June, Boston’s “Big Three” collected the first championship rings of their careers. 

And so it began. 

Weeks later, James, Wade and Bosh discussed the possibility of joining forces during the 2008 Olympics. All three were set to be free agents in the summer of 2010, and the Celtics’ success taught them—and all of us—a very important lesson.

The “super team” strategy actually works. 

"[The Celtics] set the blueprint for us when they decided to make the trade for [Garnett] and for Ray [Allen]," said James, earlier this postseason. "Seeing guys make sacrifices to come together and play as one. They set the blueprint and went out there and did it." 

Many argued that Boston’s title run was an aberration—an outlier of sorts. Each member of the Celtics’ core group was over 30 years of age by the time they had joined forces. Three perennial All-Stars in their prime—James, Wade and Bosh—obviously couldn’t put aside their egos (and ignore their respective bank accounts) to accomplish a singular goal, could they? 

In a word? Yes. 

Two summers after capturing the gold medal together in Beijing, Miami’s version of the “Big Three” chose to forego personal accolades for the benefit of the greater team. At its very essence, it’s what team sports is all about. 

Granted, they are each being paid handsomely to ply their trade in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But they could have easily gone their separate ways, signed more lucrative deals, and racked up far more individual accomplishments than they will as a unit. 

Instead, they chose to link up, and infamously vowed to bring “not one, not two, not three…”, but several championships to South Florida, angering those who quickly accused James of taking the easy way out in his quest for a ring. 

Miami’s 9-8 start only emboldened the doubters. November’s “Bumpgate” only caused speculation that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t long for the bench. 

As recently as March, cynics were overjoyed at reports of players crying in the locker room following a defeat to the Chicago Bulls

Let it be known that the Heat dynasty started not with a bang, but with a whimper. Literally.

Four nights after the Bulls loss, the Heat finished the regular season by winning 15 of their final 18 games. They haven’t played to their full capabilities for an entire 48 minutes during this post-season, yet they’ve rolled through the 76ers, Celtics and Bulls to the tune of a 12-3 record. 

The naysayers who thought that the Heat couldn’t play selfless basketball have been sorely mistaken. Those who said that James wasn’t clutch have been silenced following his performance in the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

The highlights are on SportsCenter, NBA TV, and your late-night local news. And they all tell the same story. 

The revolution is here. And it’s only just begun. 

While the culmination may occur in June, it likely only marks the beginning of Miami’s reign. Wade is the oldest of the Miami threesome, and he hasn’t even turned 30 yet. So, barring injuries, for one to assume that the Heat’s dominance will be short-lived is extremely short-sighted. 

Many have yet to come to grips with that reality. For them, Miami’s successes will always go down as smooth as a spoonful of castor oil. 

For others, the revolution will be a glorious occasion. The eventual hoisting of the Larry O’Brien trophy will be a moment of vindication for Spoelstra, who has been under the white-hot glare of media scrutiny ever since James told the world where he decided to take his talents to. 

For Spoelstra, a championship victory will taste sweeter than the finest Cuban cigars, several of which will undoubtedly be lit to mark the official coronation of the “Three Kings”, or “The Heatles”, or whatever the celebratory T-shirts will read. 

You can turn off the television and deny it all you want. But the revolution is here: live and in living color. 

Enjoy the show.


This one is for the haters.

For the people who hate LeBron James, despite the fact that he’s one of the best basketball players that you’ve ever seen. For those who hate Dwyane Wade, who is pretty much just guilty by association at this point. And even for those who hate Chris Bosh, who swears he’s tough, but in reality comes across as a man who - as Ghostface Killah would say - is softer than baby thighs.

For whatever reason, you may not like Miami’s “Big 3”, and you have every right to do so. But deep down inside, tucked away in one of those places that you don’t want to talk about, you know the truth.

The Miami Heat are officially a problem.

To all of the haters, doubters and naysayers out there: How does it feel?

How does it feel to know that they’ve finally figured it out? It took far longer than they (and some of us) expected, despite what they may have said at various points during the season.

But you can’t deny that they’ve turned it up another level this postseason, especially during their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics. 

A team that was routinely criticized as not being clutch came through when they needed to, outscoring the Celtics 55-31 during the 4th quarter and overtime periods of the final two games of the series.

The Miami Heat weren’t passed the torch of Eastern Conference supremacy last week - they ripped it from the Celtics’ old, dead hands.

Most of you don’t want to admit it. Maybe you still have some lingering resentment over “The Decision” (sponsored by Vitamin Water).

We can all agree that it was a poorly managed affair, spearheaded in part by Maverick Carter, who appears to have learned everything he knows about sports management from watching the first two seasons of “Arli$$” on DVD.

But who can blame LeBron for jumping at the chance to go to Miami? As a 26-year-old man, he gets paid an obscene amount of money to work with his friends during the day, and spend his down time enjoying the pleasures of South Beach. If that’s not the American Dream, then it’s pretty darn close.

That being said, the situation this summer could have been handled better. 10 months later, James realized the error of his ways and apologized for the debacle that was “The Decision” (sponsored by Vitamin Water). By that time, Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert was done penning missives in Comic Sans font, and busy sifting through the wreckage of a 19-63 season.

Perhaps you’re one of those still upset at the welcoming party/concert announcing the formation of the so-called “3 Kings.” Shortly after signing the contracts that made their partnership official, James and Wade and Bosh proceeded to pose and preen and peacock their way through the American Airlines arena as they were greeted like rock stars by thousands of adoring Heat fans.

After the laser show ended and the last of the confetti fell from the ceiling, LeBron James made his now infamous “not one, not two, not three…” championship boast, predicting untold success for his new team.

Cocky? Maybe a little. But if their recent success is any indication, James might not have been too far off. 

And that bothers you.

It bothers you because your favorite squad probably can’t go the “superteam” route. I’ve since reconciled the fact that barring an Act of God, my team of choice - the Philadelphia 76ers - can’t come close to a title in the forseeable future. I’ve accepted the Sixers’ place in the hierarchy of the NBA and have since moved on.

It might be hard for some people to come to grips with, but the reality is this: for the next few years, the fate of the Eastern Conference - and perhaps the entire NBA - lies in the hands of the Miami Heat.

Back in March, Heat coach Erik Spolestra mentioned that a couple of his players were crying after the team lost its fourth game in a row.

It’s likely that this summer - and for several summers to come - there will be tears shed in the Miami locker room for an entirely different reason. This time, those tears will be dried with a T-shirt declaring the Miami Heat as the champions of the NBA.

Be mad.