The Miami Heat had a rough weekend, what with LeBron James deciding to fly the proverbial escape pod back to Cleveland, where he'll try to win titles for a guy who once very publicly called him a coward.
But something happened when all the dust settled. The Heat was still around. Pat Riley was still making moves, signing the talented Luol Deng to team up with sharp-shooting Josh McRoberts. Miami also re-signed Chris Bosh and Chris "Birdman" Andersen and is on the verge of bringing back Heat icons Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem while putting the finishing touches on what's going to be a pretty formidable team.
All in all, while it stinks to lose LeBron, there's reason for not only optimism but for an unshakable hope.
Because the fact is, the Heat is a championship organization, and nothing will ever make it not that. So here now are the Top Six Reasons the Heat will thrive without King James:
6. Because The Heat Won a Title Before LeBron Sure, yes, losing LeBron sucks all of the ass. It's one heaping steaming bowl of ass gumbo to watch the best player on the planet abandon us for the desolate frozen urban decay known as the shit-stained asshole of the United States.
But you know what? Fuck that.
Because the Heat has been gunning for championships since 1995 and in 2006 was able to win it all coming back from an 0-2 NBA Finals deficit WITHOUT LeBron. When James arrived here in 2010, there was already a championship banner hanging from the rafters and a Larry O'Brien sitting on a mantle. Shit, that's why he came here. Losing James was a blow, but it wasn't a devastating one. It was merely a gut punch. And what do you do after you have your gut-punched? You catch your breath, dust yourself off, and immediately retaliate by kicking the other guy in the balls until he vomits his own spleen. That's what the Miami Heat is and has always been.
The team that kicks the other guy in the balls until it vomits its own spleen.
5. Because of the Fans. That's Right. People love to talk shit about Heat fans. They love to dredge up the tired old jokes about Heat fans being nonexistent, leaving games early, or arriving late. But here's what those ball bags are really thinking: They hate the fact that South Florida has fantastic year-round weather, beautiful beaches, beautiful people, a thriving mix of multiple cultures and nationalities, and a nightlife that puts all other to shame... AND a winning basketball team. America fiercely rooted against the Heat the past four years because it was unfathomable to their worthless piss-stained lives that a town this gorgeous and sexy also got to have the best team in the world. It was four straight years of cramming that shit right up their assholes, and they couldn't stand it. So, naturally, they went after the easy target: the Heat fan.
But here's the thing: EVERY fan base has its bad fans and good fans. Every fan base will suddenly balloon when a team starts to win. Before Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls were as relevant as the Milwaukee Bucks. You think all those thousands of Bulls fans appeared as if by magic in the 1990s? Nope. That team's fan base grew with each successive championship. The same is going to happen with the Cavaliers this year. Suddenly all Cleveland games are going to be sold out. Because Cavs fans have existed by the hundreds of thousands for decades, right?
Sure the Heat fan base is going to lose some of the lesser committed. But this team has a rabid fan base filled with passion, love, and a tireless fanaticism that rivals any other team's. Can you feel the Heat down in your soul? Fuck and yes we can.
4. Because This Is, as Ever, Dwyane Wade's House He's not the player he used to be, but D-Wade is the quintessential Heal icon. We've watched him grow from a bright young electric prospect into a three-time champion. Wade is probably more responsible for bringing LeBron down here than anyone else. And as James bolts for a city that literally hated him just a month ago, Heat fans have Wade among us forevermore.
Wade has shown his love and loyalty to this team since day one and is showing it again this offseason. As the national media are busy talking up LeBron's redemption and how wonderful he suddenly is because he decided to bail and go back to Cleveland, they're forgetting that Wade left $42 million on the table to make room for other players to join Miami. The redemption/forgiveness angle makes a nice story. But uncommon loyalty is the better truth.
And Dwyane Wade is our Truth.
3. Because, Pat Riley Chris Rock once said that no man has led more black men to the promised land than Pat Riley. And he's damned right.
If there's one thing Riley has proven, it's that he is a dynasty maker.
People will forever point to how he was able to bring the Big Three together, and rightly so. But Riley has been making magic happen since he got here, starting with overhauling the roster in 1995 and bringing in Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway. Riley showed even more magic when he traded for Shaquille O'Neal in 2005 and added pieces of a championship team around Wade and Shaq.
And now, even after being blindsided by LeBron's decision to eject, Riley refused to let the Heat crumble. He re-signed Chris Bosh -- a huge move -- and managed to surround him with a core of solid players. When James left Cleveland, the Cavaliers folded and fell apart. When James left Miami, the Heat retooled and charged forward.
The Heat, as presently constructed, is actually going to be competitive this season. If you thought Riley would've collapsed after losing LeBron, then you just haven't been paying attention.
There's a reason they call him "The Godfather."
2. Because Chris Bosh Is a Bad, Bad Man Look at these quotes from a recent ESPN interview:
When asked about who'd win a possible Cavs-Heat matchup on opening night, Bosh left no doubt where his head is at.
"Of course, we're going to win it," Bosh said. "And let me tell you something, nothing's going to change. If anything, I'm going to have a bigger chip on my shoulder. Maybe people in Miami really don't know that side of me, but I want something more than just to compete. I believe in our ability, no matter who I'm playing with. You ask me 10 times, 10 times I'll say yes."
Add to the fact that Bosh thrives when he's the main guy and his numbers shot up whenever he played without LeBron, it's easy to forget that he's an amazeballs player.
This is Bosh's team now, and that's a very good thing.
1. Because They're Going to Make a Serious Run at Kevin Durant in 2016 As we mentioned, Pat Riley is a boss. And, as he's been busy signing and re-signing players to make a run at the 2014-15 season, he's also very slyly setting the Heat up to make a serious run at the free agency class of 2016. That's when TV networks will be battling it out against one another to land a new deal to broadcast games and where players will cash on those television revenues.
LeBron will be among that class. But he'll be 32. However, another player will also be available: a just-entering-his-prime Kevin Durant, who will be just 27 years old (the same age LeBron was when he came to Miami).
Until now, Durant remains the second-best player in the league. But his time is coming.
And his time will arrive just when the Heat will be primed to offer him a max contract with the promise of a winning roster. Just like they did to another guy who was ready to win.
Riley has set the team up to make this happen.
Think it can't or won't happen?
Many thought this very thought in the summer of 2010.
Be nervous, NBA.
BE OH SO VERY NERVOUS.
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