Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh — members of the so-called “Redeem Team” that won gold in Beijing in 2008 — made huge sacrifices financially and statistically in order to win NBA championships together, but they have been loathed rather than praised ever since James’s televised “Decision” and their nightclub-worthy welcome party.
“It’s the world we live in,” Wade said leading up to the Heat’s series-ending loss in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. “We were playing for America in the Olympics and we had the support of everybody in America. Now in ’11, we don’t. And that’s just the way it is. I don’t think it’s anything personal. A lot of people out there that’s rooting against us don’t know LeBron James as a person, don’t know me as a person, don’t know a lot of people in this locker room. But us as a team, that’s fine.
“If it makes for people tuning in, watching our games, if it makes for bigger story lines and it just makes our game better and exciting, we’re fine with that,” he said amid the huge television ratings these Finals have produced. “We know, as the people and the individuals that we are, they don't know us well enough to really, really not root for us as humans.”
Even opponents have chimed in, with Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah calling the team “Hollywood” after Miami advanced to the Finals. In this series, James and Wade were criticized for mocking Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.
James realizes that a lot of the negativity is rooted in his public breakup with Cleveland and his boast that the Heat was going to establish a dynasty of “not five, not six, not seven” titles.
“I understand what position I’m in, how people look at me, not as a basketball player, but that can’t stop me making my own decisions,” he said. “I can’t live my life and my career through other people’s visions and other people’s thoughts. I’ve got to do what’s best for me and my family and friends.”
Rick Carlisle wasn’t able to win a championship when he made the Final Four with Virginia in 1984, but in Game 6 he became the 11th person to win a title as both a player and a coach.
Carlisle won as a member of the 1986 Boston Celtics and wasn’t afraid to make the necessary adjustments to put the Mavericks in position to win their first NBA championship. After Dallas lost two of the first three games, Carlisle put J.J. Barea in the starting lineup in place of DeShawn Stevenson and he also called on Brian Cardinal and Ian Mahinmi when Brendan Haywood suffered a right hip injury.
“I think he’s pushed the right buttons I think all season long,” Nowitzki said before the finale. “He’s challenged us in ways. Sometimes he’s backed off. Sometimes he’s letting [Jason] Kidd run the show. Sometimes he feels like things are not going the way he wants to and he’s clamping down a little more. So I think that was the challenge the first two years, to find a good mix between play-calls and freedom and still play enough defense to win. And I just think he found a good mix and he found all the right buttons to motivate us every single night to get to this spot.”
Billy Cunningham, Tom Heinsohn, Red Holzman, Phil Jackson, Buddy Jeannette, K.C. Jones, Pat Riley, Bill Russell, George Senesky and Bill Sharman are the other players to win championships as both player and coach.