Dwyane Wade was responsible for bringing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami to form an all-star trio that made four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and won two titles. But Wade’s inability to stay healthy placed a bind on James during the regular season. And Wade’s second straight mediocre showing in the NBA Finals will also be viewed as a huge factor that contributed to James’s departure from Miami.
Had Wade been able to physically keep up his end of the bargain, James may have felt more compelled to sign the same deal he inked in Cleveland, staying in South Beach on a two-year deal with an option after the first year. Now, Wade and Bosh will need to move on absent their running mate. But how good can that duo be as they transition from the “Big 3″ era?
No doubt, master motivator Pat Riley will come up with something to rile up Wade and keep him on edge as the Heat embarks on a season in which it will attempt to show that the franchise is still relevant. The situation is similar to when the pride of Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen wouldn’t let the Bulls slip too much after Michael Jordan retired.
Wade was with James in Las Vegas — partying, dining and attending James’s basketball camp — before their time as teammates ended. He issued a statement wishing James well on his return to Cleveland. But he also is a fierce competitor who understands he needs to make some changes to his diet and reckless style of play to extend his career and prove he isn’t finished at age 32.
With James gone, Wade can go back to assuming a larger role with the Heat. Bosh’s desire to stay says a lot about his confidence his friend will be able to hold up — though that confidence was likely boosted by the $118 million Bosh will collect on his new deal.
James forced Wade to play more off the ball but he will have it hands more and he will also be playing with the added motivation of proving his “brother” bailed on Miami a bit too soon.
Before they decided to play together, James and Wade had potential to be rivals. If Wade can get back to being productive and efficient, the stage is set for the friends to stage some entertaining battles.
Wade had to make so many adjustments to make it work for James in Miami and tried to keep the all-star trio together by opting out of a two-year, $41.2 million contract to give Riley the means to make some roster upgrades.
Riley added former all-stars Luol Deng and Danny Granger, as well as Josh McRoberts, to the team and decided to bring back some familiar faces in Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen. Despite those additions, the key to keeping the Heat in the fight for the Eastern Conference will be Wade. And the question will be just how much weight the veteran’s knees can carry.