Sacrifice For Success

Posted by Michael Kelly on Wednesday, March 05, 2014 with No comments
The free agency period of the summer of 2010 will forever be talked about as one of the defining off-seasons in NBA history, as three of the league’s star players, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces to increase their chances of achieving their ultimate goal; winning an NBA Championship.
The Big Three in 2010

All three of those players had plenty of options available to them when they entered free agency, and all of them could have commanded a lot more money elsewhere than they currently receive in Miami; let’s face it, the career of a basketball player is a short one, why not use that time to get as much money as you can?

Instead, the “Super Friends”, as they were dubbed in the media, came together for the chance to win a Championship, knowing that to make the partnership work for the betterment of the team they would all have to make their own sacrifices.

LeBron James, for example, had the chance during free agency to sign a max contract with one of the plethora of teams that was vying for his signature. It could be argued that LeBron is worth even more money than the maximum contract ruling will allow, as he proved during his time in Cleveland that he can convert a terrible team into a Championship contender.

However, James decided to take less money in order to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, thus increasing his chances of winning the most coveted prize in basketball. James’ salary for this year puts him in joint eighth position of the highest paid players in the league, tied with Chris Bosh. You could argue that had LeBron chosen somewhere other than the Heat, he would more than likely top the list.

For seven seasons, Dwyane Wade had the Heat Fans’ adulation focused solely on him as he became the poster boy of sports in Miami. Nowadays, Wade has to be content with the sidekick role, as he has stepped aside to allow LeBron to take the reins of his team.

All-Star teammates
Wade could have easily rejected the notion of having two fellow All-Stars joining him on his team, instead choosing to demand the highest contract he could get and remaining the star of the team. Instead, he has had to realize that his knees are not what they used to be, and are currently preventing the Heat coaching staff on playing in back-to-back nights.

Chris Bosh has become the forgotten piece of the Big Three since they came together, playing under the shadow of two future Hall of Famer players in James and Wade. Bosh could have easily either stayed with the Raptors or joined another team, where he could have earned more money and remained the focal point on offense.
Instead, Bosh moved to South Beach, knowing that he would more than likely be the third option on offense. 

However, this has encouraged him to reinvent his game, from being the go-to offensive player on the team, to expanding his range so that he can stretch the opponent’s defense, allowing space for James and Wade to attack the paint.

Of course, you have heard about the sacrifices these three players made to play together countless times. What seems to have been overlooked, however, is how much the players around the Big Three have sacrificed in order to play alongside them.

Mario Chalmers has often been seen as the whipping boy of this team, as when things have been going wrong on the court, his teammates have been seen berating him for various reasons. Chalmers has also had to get used to the fact that he is not going to have the ball in his hands on most possessions, as James and Wade are both excellent when it comes to handling the ball, and prefer to have the ball in their hands when running plays.

However, Chalmers has been an extremely valuable asset for the Heat, as he shot a career best 40% from behind the three point line last season. His shooting ability means that the opposition would be taking a huge risk by leaving him open, meaning that James and Wade are less likely to be double-teamed and will have more space to operate in when running an isolation play.

Ray Allen had a number of potential suitors when he tested free agency in the summer of 2012, his final chance to get the biggest contract he could before father time would surely catch up with him. One of the greatest shooters the NBA has ever seen and the holder of the record for most career made three-pointers, Allen would surely have been a fantastic addition for many teams.

Allen takes the three-pointer in Game 6
Allen decided to become a free agent because he was unhappy about not regaining his starting spot for the Boston Celtics after his return from injury, as Doc Rivers chose to start with Avery Bradley. There were also rumors that Allen and his All-Star point guard teammate, Rajon Rondo, had fallen out.

Although Allen was unhappy to come off the bench for the Celtics, he has embraced his role in coming off the bench for Miami, putting his ego to one side to help the team. Indeed, he has helped his team in a huge way, knocking down the game-tying three pointer in game 6 of last season’s NBA finals, sending the series to a game 7 which the Heat would ultimately win.

Haslem hustling
Udonis Haslem has become synonymous with the Miami Heat since he entered the league eleven years ago. His tenacity and energy quickly endeared him to the fans in South Beach, and last season he broke Alonzo Mourning’s record for most rebounds by a Heat player.

However, this season Haslem has had to be content with watching his teammates play from the bench, as the impact Chris Anderson has had coupled with the signing of Greg Oden has caused a considerable decline in the amount of time he is seeing on the court. At the time of writing, Haslem has featured in just 28 of Miami’s 57 games so far this season, averaging 12 minutes in those appearances.

Without the selflessness of these players, the Miami Heat would not have been able to assemble players of a similar quality of these players that they needed to put around the Big Three. On the other hand, it cannot take much convincing to join the Heat considering the quality of players they have on their roster.

However, in a game dominated by egos, Miami have created a true team-first ethic, and so far it is hard to argue with the results. The question now is, will the Big Three still be together at the start of next season?


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