(The four agreements, by the way, are to be impeccable with your word, to not take anything personally, to not make assumptions and to always do your best. I cannot confirm that the hidden fifth agreement is to sign with the Heat for less money.)
Allen left Miami deeply impressed by the opportunity here, but mostly by Riley.
“And the next day he texted me some good quotes,” Allen said.
Riley is 67 but would tell you he is still growing, learning. His Heat won the 2006 championship and he stood pat, choosing to not fix what wasn’t broke. It didn’t work. Now he sees Steve Nash joining Kobe Bryant. Sees Dwight Howard about to change uniforms. He knows that what won in 2012 might not be good enough next year.
“We’ve got to raise the bar. Expect more,” he said Wednesday. “What we didn’t do [after the ’06 title] was add people like Ray or Rashard. That was my mistake. You have to keep adding pieces, adding quality talent.”
Riley calls Allen “one of the most professional professionals this league has ever seen.” Spoelstra (albeit given to dramatic hyperbole), said, “There are only a handful of players in this league that absolutely strike fear into their opponent, and Ray is one.”
Lewis was coveted more for his length, wingspan and versatility. He has the three-point touch to join Allen as a floor-spreading perimeter threat but also the size to play power forward. No matter that Allen turns 37 next week and Lewis 33 next month; adding pieces that make you better now is the luxury of a champion.
Miami’s winning blueprint shows an increasing reliance on versatility embodied by the newest additions. Hybrid players are in here. Think about it. James was the small forward whose conversion to a power role made him Finals MVP. Wade can play either guard spot. Bosh was the power forward who converted seamlessly to center.
“We want to get to a point where we are position-less,” Spoelstra said. “The more we can become position-less, the more exciting it can be.”
The Heat wants a mix and rotation that has five strong players on the floor at all times. They want to “play faster,” Spoelstra said, and rely less on set plays.
Wednesday’s introduction of Allen and Lewis marked a welcome indication that the Heat is symbolically over the champagne now, past the parade and looking forward.
On Wednesday, the NBA’s best team got better.