This time of year — with the playoffs quickly approaching and the games becoming more pressure-filled and meaningful — inevitably makes Miami Heat fans reflect on the chaotic historical greatness that was the Big Three era. That team, we can now say with certainty, was the most interesting in NBA history.
Not as good offensively as the current Golden State Warriors, who are on a ten-game winning streak. Nope. Golden State probably would have rained threes on those Heat teams just as it does on everyone else these days.
Not the best defensive team to ever win a title. Nah. The Heat had its flaws there. The San Antonio Spurs showed us that in the Big Three's final season together.
Not the best team to ever play the game. Not even close, probably. If we're being honest.
Those Heat teams were the most interesting, though. They were the most captivating, not only to Heat fans but also to everyone. Those LeBron James-era Heat teams were peak sports.
From 2011 through 2014, the sports universe revolved around the Heat. You either hated or loved them, but either way, you had a fiery opinion. For the four seasons that LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade made up the Heat's core, not a single butt in South Florida was unclenched. It was borderline unhealthy.
The Warriors likely have more talent, but weeks can go by and nobody thinks about the Steph and company. One problem is that for many NBA fans, games take place in the middle of the night. But late nights didn't matter for the 2011-14 Heat. You stayed up till 2 a.m. if there was a triple overtime game. You had to. There were no other options. DVR doesn't cut it when it comes to
Every night was a referendum on LeBron James' legacy. A Miami Heat loss made many outsiders smile. A win came with a sigh of relief.
Every game was an event and every arena sold out. Every sports talk show led with what the Heat did the night before, good or bad. It was like nothing we'd ever seen before or will ever see again.
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No other team has ever seen as many characters as that Miami Heat team. The personalities Erik Spoelstra handled were incredible. Hall of Famers played just a few minutes off the bench. All-NBA player Bosh took on on a role that made him an afterthought on offense — that is until he remade his entire offensive game.
The moments. All the moments — from LeBron James tackling a guy who hit a half-court shot at halftime of a random regular-season game, to Ray Allen hitting the biggest shot in NBA history in the 2013 NBA Finals. There just isn't anything like it now, and there won't be anything like it ever again.
There will never be another Big Three Miami Heat. This time of year reminds everyone of that fact.