Well… this is awkward. Shortly after the Heat’s loss to the Spurs a few weeks ago, I had planned to write a version of today’s blog on why the Big 3 should feel proud of what they were able to accomplish so far knowing that they have built the foundation for what could be a dynasty together. Then I went to Cuba for two weeks and shortly after I came back… LeBron decides to go back to Cleveland.
So now, instead of a blog about what the Heat will be able to do, I’ll look at some life lessons from the four years that the Big 3 were able to share (mostly looking at it from LeBron’s perspective). “Wait, life lessons?!” you may ask. Yes, life lessons.
1) Don’t be afraid of ridicule when working to build your dreams.
I remember being in Seminary during the summer of 2010 during free agency and being the only one who thought that the idea of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade coming together was a viable and real idea. Most other people in school and all over the media scoffed at it. The idea was, “Who in their right minds would leave millions of dollars on the table?” Three friends with big dreams, that’s who. Miami immediately became the most hated city in the NBA.
2) Premature celebrations always look stupid.
It’s important to note here that, granted, most of the hate came from the way the Big 3 came together. From the now infamous “The Decision” program where LeBron announced his choice in a one-hour special, to the immediate after party at the AAA Arena in Miami where South Beach partied like we had already won a title and LeBron said, “Not one, not two, not three, not four” titles were on the horizon. Okay, in retrospect, that was a bit overdone but, who wouldn’t be excited after the biggest free-agent coup in NBA history had been successfully pulled off? Lesson learned: even if you have some success, don’t flaunt it until you’ve actually proven yourself.
3) When you set an attractive and attainable vision, people are willing to sacrifice much to be a part of it.
The Heat knew that they were trying to build and create a Dynasty.
Part of what made the Heat so awesome to watch these four years was the fact that they were a team of selfless dreamers. Yes, they were just as much a team as the Spurs and just as selfless as them. If you think about it, any of the Big 3 could have easily gotten much more money going to another team and being the star of their city. The Heat instead built a championship roster at an insanely discounted rate. No, don’t give me the “built vs. bought” narrative; no NBA player plays for free. Even the minimum salary for any NBA player is more than most people will make in a lifetime. Check the facts: all teams pay their players millions of dollars. Not only the superstars in Miami, but also many of the key supporting cast (Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Rashad Lewis, James Jones, Birdman) sacrificed money because they believed that together, they could accomplish something greater than what they could individually achieve and they all left money on the table to be part of something big.
4) You can’t do it all yourself.
Going along with the previous thought, anyone who knows anything about basketball knows that it is a team sport. For all the critics who say that the other legendary NBA players didn’t make a superteam with their rivals to build dynasties… no. Kobe and Shaq couldn’t stand each other most of the time. Also, all of the other greats had teams that multiple great players on their teams: MJ, Scottie, Rodman; Bird, McHale, Parish; Magic, Kareem Worthy; Kobe, Gasol, Fisher (not to mention the many great players that the Lakers had when they first three-peated). The fact remains: no one is an island. Any team that wins a title does so because they have played like one… a team that reaches the finals four consecutive times is worthy of the title “team.”
5) People will always find something to criticize you about.
It was especially funny to me to see the contrast between the free agency this year and 2010 among LeBron haters. In 2010 they criticized him because of “The Decision” and the fanfare that he created leading up to it and thereafter. In 2014, the criticism came because, “No one knows what LeBron is going to do. He is holding everyone in suspense and refuses to give any information.” First they criticize because he says too much, then they criticize because he doesn’t say enough.
Life will always have haters. Like the Heat haters, they literally had nothing to gain or lose at LeBron’s decisions. The Big 3’s choice to come together most likely didn’t affect them directly; they just chose to hate from a distance. Haters are like that. They won’t criticize things that they are heavily and personally invested in building. So, instead, they’ll hate. Keep moving.
6) At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you and your family.
I’m not going to say that I’m happy about LeBron’s decision to leave for Cleveland but I can’t fault him. He has the opportunity to team up with a younger, faster cast and now has the possibility of teaming with Kevin Love. He is clearly thinking about his legacy on and off the court. His decision to do what is best for his home state and his family is commendable. This shows me that a vision might be great, and all other external circumstances might be fine, but all good things must come to an end.
7) Forgiveness is a powerful thing.
The Cavs owner, along with the entire state of Ohio, had a meltdown when LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach. Jerseys were burned, letters were written in Comic Sans, people complained, and everything else. But like most of these things, time heals most wounds (time does not really heal all wounds; neither time itself nor something in its fabric are the solution to pain). Reconciliation also required both sides to look at themselves and see where they were wrong and come clean about it. However, once that happened, even longshot ideas like LeBron going back to the Cavs could become reality.
LeBron’s story is not totally unlike yours or mine. We have all at one time or another inflated our egos and made ourselves believe that we were greater than what we actually were. Taking a step back, I have learned that these lessons speak to us in ways that transcend the hardwood floor and speak into our lives. I wish him the best but don’t expect me to cheer for Lebron and the Cavaliers now. I’m a Heat fan for life, 305!