Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (left) and shooting guard Dwyane Wade (right) celebrate after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Miami Heat won 95-88 to win the NBA Championship. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Season All About Legacies For Miami Heat

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Jun 24, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; An image of Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (not pictured) is held in the air during the Miami Heat Championship celebration parade in downtown Miami. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a relatively quiet off-season for the Miami Heat. The players have scattered for the time being, whether to rest, promote or teach. The front office has been quiet with no major changes to personnel, other than the loss of Mike Miller and the signing of Greg Oden. Summer basketball has come and gone, and we’re now just six weeks away from the start of training camp. The Heat look to be in the position to defend their back-to-back titles, although it will be against improved competition.

However, the quiet summer is leading into a hugely important season, for the legacies of team, players and management.

Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (left) and Dwyane Wade (right) celebrate after game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Miami defeated the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win the NBA Championship. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Players

Any talk about legacy has to begin with LeBron James. He’s already amassed back-to-back finals MVP awards, four season MVPs in five years and submitted his entry into talks regarding the greatest player ever.

He’s one MVP away from the rare air of Jordan, Russell and Kareem. A title away from joining Jordan, Kobe and Russell as leaders of a three-peat. In the past two years, LeBron has cemented his place in the pantheon of NBA greatness, but his legacy has not yet been completely written.

Dwyane Wade is coming off what must have been his most frustrating professional season. After putting in one of his best regular seasons, Wade struggled with injuries and confidence in the playoffs.

As proud a man and as fiery a competitor as is anywhere in the league, Wade will be out to return to his championship form this season. An off-season of rest and treatment to his knees should set him on his way.

Remember, Wade — not James — is already half way to the vaunted six titles held by Jordan and only two away from Kobe. As a player well aware of his legacy, Wade knows that passing Kobe’s five titles puts him in the argument for second best two guard of all time.

Chris Bosh had some difficulties in the playoffs last year. It seems that since James earned his first title, the “whipping boy” spot has been given to Bosh. Rarely a day goes by during the season where Bosh isn’t degraded by some talking head somewhere.

The truth is that no one player has sacrificed more of his game than Bosh. A slashing power forward that has played mostly center, Bosh has at times struggled with the opposition’s size.

Hopefully, this year, with the addition of Greg Oden and a fully acclimated Chris Anderson, Bosh may get more time in his true comfort zone.

No matter what he does going forward, Ray Allen will go down in NBA history as the greatest long distance shooter ever. Also, it’s just not possible to hit a bigger shot than the BIGGEST SHOT IN NBA FINALS HISTORY.

Ray’s legacy just gets better and better the longer he’s separated from his former team. He was vilified for a lack of loyalty by a franchise that the following year shipped one of it’s most iconic players (Paul Pierce) to save a couple of bucks and get a better draft pick, and a coach who subsequently engineered his way out to a better situation (some might say he even quit on his team).

And let’s not forget the rest of the Heat players, all of whom are in the final year of their contracts… that’s a lot to play for legacy or not.

The Team

In modern NBA history, only the Lakers, the Bulls (twice) and the Celtics (8 in a row) have managed to “three-peat.” This year is Miami’s chance to join those celebrated ranks. With a returning championship core of players, coaches, trainers and front-office, the Heat stand a very good chance of accomplishing that goal. Being in any NBA team pantheon with the aforementioned teams is as high an honor a team can receive in the NBA.

The way the Heat were built, the way they go about their business, the way their fan base shows their dedication, well in pretty much every way, the Heat do it differently. Another championship will give much deserved credence to the Heat way. There’s still a place in American sports for things such as loyalty, honor and teamwork. Seriously Boston fans, you really can win championships without threatening (Ray) or trading (Paul) your icons.

The Management

Mickey Arison was one of the few owners that voted against the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), even though he had the odds-on-favorite to win the coming year’s championship. Why would he do that? Well for one, Arison saw through the greed of his fellow owners, this wasn’t a CBA designed to ensure competitive balance, but rather one that punished owners who’s main goal was to win championships. Well a three peat in the face of such punitive taxes would be, well a third consecutive thumb in the faces of the majority of his fellow owners.

Did you know that Eric Spoelstra is the second longest tenured coach in the NBA? In a league full of turmoil and turnover, the Heat and its head coach have been the calm at the eye of the hurricane. After being blasted by pundits in his first big-three year, Spoelstra has gained respect as one of the best young coaches in the game. With a third consecutive title, he’ll gain respect as one of the best coaches in the game, period.

I think it is about time that Pat Riley gets to cash in on his “three-peat” copyright. As a believer that the executive of the year award should be given to whomever gets LeBron to play for his team that year, I feel Riley has been ROBBED of this award lately. Make no mistake about it, a three-peat will mean the return of LeBron and the Heat core. LeBron will not walk away from the chance to best Michael Jordan with a fourth consecutive championship, there’s just NO way he does. And if LeBron is back, Riley and his charisma, will be back in full force.

Heat haters beware, a win this year will mean bad things for you all. To paraphrase Miami print and radio icon Dan Le Batard, from his 2013 Miami Heat Championship Epic Rant, “Not one, not two, not three is no longer a joke, now it’s a mother-bleeping threat.”

Maybe even a promise.

#LET’S GO HEAT

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Tags: Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade Lebron James Miami Heat

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