LeBron James Edit
Main article: LeBron James
James played high school basketball at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar. After graduating, he was selected with the first overall pickin the 2003 NBA draft by the Cavaliers. In Cleveland, James led the Cavaliers to 5 straight NBA Playoffs (2006–2010), including the franchise's first Finals appearance in 2007. James's individual accolades and accomplishments include two NBA Most Valuable Player Awards (2009, 2010), an Olympic gold medal (2008), an NBA scoring title (2008), and the NBA Rookie of the Year Award (2004). He has also been selected to six NBA All-Star teams, six All-NBA teams, and two All-Defensive teams, and is the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer. James decided to join with Bosh and Wade in part so that he could shoulder less of the load offensively, thinking that his improved teammates would give him a better chance of winning a championship than had he stayed in Cleveland. Relieved of the burden of scoring, James thought he could be the first player to average a triple-double in a season since Oscar Robertson.
Dwyane Wade Edit
Main article: Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade in the Elite Eight of the 2003 NCAA Tournament recorded a triple-double with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in an 83–69 victory over 1st-seeded Kentucky to win the Midwest Regional and advance to the 2003 Final Four as Wade was named Midwest Regional MVP.
Wade was selected by the Miami Heat, who had the 5th overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. After entering the league as the fifth pick in the 2003 NBA draft, Wade was named to the All-Rookie team and the All-Star team the following eleven seasons. In his third season, Wade led the Miami Heat to their first NBA championship in franchise history. He was named the 2006 NBA Finals MVP as the Heat won the series 4-2 over the Dallas Mavericks. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wade led the United States men's basketball team, commonly known as the "Redeem Team", in scoring, and helped them capture gold medal honors in Beijing, China. In the 2008–09 season, Wade led the league in scoring and earned his first NBA scoring title.
Chris Bosh Edit
Main article: Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh played for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during his one-season college career. Bosh was selected by the Toronto Raptors who had the 4th overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft and was on the 2004 NBA All-Rookie Team. While at Toronto, Bosh emerged as one of the young stars in the league; he became a five-time NBA All-Star, was named to the All-NBA second team once, appeared for the US national team (with whom he won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics), and supplanted former fan-favorite Vince Carter as the face and leader of the Raptors franchise. In the 2006–07 season, Bosh led the Raptors to their first NBA Playoffs berth in five years, and their first ever division title. He left Toronto as its all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, double doubles, free throws made and attempted, and minutes played.
Bosh's parting message to the Raptors on his website said, "[K]now that this was my toughest decision, mostly because Toronto has been so great to me. I've loved every minute here and I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart..." Not only did Bosh leave Toronto as its all-time leader in virtually all major statistical categories, he was one of only three players in the league who accrued 10,000 points, 4,500 rebounds, and 600 blocks in his seven seasons with the Raptors.
Four Finals Appearance Edit
Heralded as a "Big 3", Wade, James and Bosh made their debut at the 2010 Summer Heat Welcome Party at the American Airlines Arena, where they were introduced as The Three Kings by Heat play-by-play announcer and event co-host Eric Reid. James predicted a dynasty for the Heat and alluded to multiple championships: "Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven". Howard Beck of The New York Times described the national fan reaction to the party: "Everyone saw something: greatness, arrogance, self-indulgence, boldness, cowardice, pride, friendship, collusion, joy, cynicism, heroes, mercenaries.
Beginning the season with much hype, many considered the Heat as the team to break the single season record of 72 regular season victories set by the Chicago Bulls. On the opening game of the season, broadcast on the TNT Network and featuring the debut of James and Bosh in Heat uniforms, the game was the most-watched NBA contest ever on cable television.
On January 27, 2011, via fan voting, Dwyane Wade (guard) and LeBron James (forward) were selected to be starters for the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Game. A few days later, forward Chris Bosh was selected as a reserve. The Heat reached the 2011 NBA Finals for the first time since 2006, in a rematch against the Dallas Mavericks. After taking a 2-1 series lead,the Heat collapsed, as they would lose the final three games to the Mavericks. The majority of the criticism fell on LeBron James, as the loss was seen as a consequence for his actions during the offseason. James struggled in the Finals, averaged only 3 points in fourth quarters in the series. James' scoring average of 17.8 points per game during the Finals signified an 8.9-point drop from his 26.7 points per game average during the regular season, the lowest such drop-off in league history. He also contributed 6.8 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game, and averaged 23.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game for the postseason as a whole.
After a summer to stew over the Finals loss and an extended offseason thanks to the league's lockout, LeBron returned a more familiar man. He vowed to enjoy basketball again, rather than play the villain role he grudgingly accepted his first year in Miami. And, about 17 months after his Decision, LeBron admitted some regret. He told a reporter that if he had to do it all again, he wouldn't go through with "The Decision" telecast that was received so poorly.
"I can now look and see if the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan, and I was very passionate about one player, and he decided to leave, I would be upset too about the way he handled it."
In retrospect, the 2012 postseason looks like the moment in which LeBron and the Heat figured out how to win together. As it happened, though, their success was anything but assured. An injury to Bosh in the conference semifinals against the upstart Indiana Pacers forced a dominant performance from James and Wade in Game 4 to avoid going down 3-1, with the two stars combining for 70 points, with LeBron accounting for 40 (on 27 shots), plus 18 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks, and two steals. It was one of the greatest individual performances in playoff history.
The conference finals against the surprisingly feisty Celtics proved even more dramatic. With the Heat facing elimination in Game 6, James tackled the challenge with undeniable focus on his way to 45 points (19-of-26 FG) and 15 rebounds, scoring from everywhere but also dominating from the post in a way he hadn't to that point in his career. In Game 7, the Big Three controlled the fourth quarter as a group, scoring all 28 Heat points to break a deadlock through three periods and vault the Heat to their second-straight title. The team's undeniable promise was quickly becoming reality, with James taking on a clear role at the top of the Miami hierarchy.
After two dramatic series, the five-game victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals was somewhat anticlimactic on the court. However, it remains notable if only because this trio, which at one time looked guaranteed to win championships with little opposition, finally reached the pinnacle of the sport. A two-year wait might not seem that long to most teams, but for the Heat it helped establish just how difficult it can be to win a championship no matter the talent on hand. Their triumph carried many emotions — relief for James and everyone responsible for bringing the team together, a validation of the free-agent superteam experiment, and the feeling that there would be much more to come.
The Heat will always be judged by what they did or didn't accomplish in the playoffs, but over the 2012-13 regular season they made a strong case for being judged as one of the best squads in the history of the league. On February 1, the Heat lost to the Pacers 102-89. They didn't lose again until March 27, a run of 27 straight victories that ranks as the second-longest in NBA history. While a glance at the schedule doesn't suggest that Miami faced overwhelming competition, the streak was impressive in large part because the NBA (and really every professional sports league) is full of traps and pitfalls over the course of a very long season. Most teams simply can't maintain this level of focus amidst road trips and various other kinds of distraction, but the Heat did. The fact that it happened is remarkable enough — it doesn't require much in the way of deep explanation.
If the Heat's 2012-13 season looked like an extended romp on the way to back-to-back titles, then the San Antonio Spurs quickly absolved everyone of that notion in the NBA Finals. A Game 1 win gave San Antonio homecourt advantage, and in Game 6 they were seconds away from winning one of the more surprising championships in recent NBA history.
This play will go down as the memorable moment of the Big Three's time together and figures to be a mainstay in montages of dramatic NBA moments until the league no longer exist. Bosh, who later had the game-saving blocked shot in overtime — grabbed the ball and Allen had the foresight to get in position to save the season. It was a simple play, in a way, but it's often toughest to execute in the most dramatic moments.
More than anything, though, the play displayed how the Heat became more than a collection of talent. Bosh was always part of the Big Three, but he succeeded in Miami because he understood his role and how to affect games without serving as the focal point. To put it another way, he began to think of himself as a star role player rather than a diminished star. Allen, on the other hand, was always a role player for the Heat, albeit a very famous one who had been a star for many years. Essentially, Miami won titles because they learned how to shape a team from considerable raw materials. When Allen hit this shot, he ensured that this group would be known forever as a basketball team, not a villainous collection of talent.
James was named the NBA Finals MVP, becoming the fifth player to win the award back-to-back along with Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon and only the second player in NBA history to win the Finals MVP and league MVP back-to-back along with Jordan. Miami struggled throughout the 2013-14 season with extended absences of Dwyane Wade, who only played 54 games to injury and ended on a 11-14 record entering the post-season. They entered the playoffs as the Eastern Conference 2nd seed with a record of 54-28 team, and with the "Big 3" healthy. They went 12-3 in the first 3 rounds. They swept the Charlotte Bobcats. They then beat the Brooklyn Nets 4-1. They went on to play the 1st seeded 56-26 Pacers in the Conference Finals, in a rematch of the previous year's Conference Finals. The Pacers were eliminated from the playoffs for a third consecutive year by the Heat. The Heat went to a fourth consecutive Finals, and faced the Spurs again. The first two games in San Antonio were split but the Heat fell to the Spurs 4-1, failing to repeat as champions for the third consecutive season.