Greg Cote: Faced with doubt, Big 3 remind us why they teamed up

WEB VOTE What best explains the Heat’s 109-93 rout of the Spurs in Game 4 of the NBA Finals?

Heat architect Pat Riley and club owner Micky Arison were sitting one row and a few seats from each other in the Spurs’ arena here, close enough to converse, if they chose, but far enough apart to be alone in their thoughts.

This was Wednesday afternoon as the Heat practiced for the next night’s game that would change everything. Few words passed between the men who run Miami’s NBA team as the sneakers squeaked and the basketballs thumped. What else could be said right then when everything was so stark and plain?

All that they had dreamed and made real was teetering.

You imagine how the next game will turn out, but you can never be sure how much of what your mind sees is colored by wishful thinking. Or desperation.

Riley and Arison could not have imagined Game 4 any better.

Neither could Heat fans, who felt the anvil on their chest lift.

It wasn’t just that Miami won 109-93 to even the NBA Finals entering Sunday’s Game 5 right back here.

It was how.

No. It was WHO.

You remember that surreal night in downtown Miami, in the bayside arena, when we celebrated? It was just after LeBron James had made The Decision, and now Dwyane Wade and our community ceremonially welcomed LeBron and Chris Bosh.

The Big 3 was born.

The rest of America hated that celebration. They were jealous; they thought us entitled, presumptuous. But there haven’t been a lot of occasions that lifted South Florida higher. Besides, we didn’t care what America thought. The rest of the country wasn’t invited. This was a private party.

Fans have invested so much emotion and hope into the Big 3 in the three years since. We rallied behind them when the haters piled on. We suffered when they fell short that first year. We swooned at a championship parade in Year 2.

Lately the doubts had crept in.

The Big 3 seemed diminished, the fabric fraying.


LeBron had had three straight subpar Finals games offensively. He seemed scattered. Some questioned his heart, his mental toughness. We couldn’t but wonder anew if this was a man committed to Miami beyond next season.

Wade was a shell of himself, his bruised right knee not right, his burst gone. He couldn’t buy a 20-point game. An analysis earlier this week made the case for benching him. For benching Dwyane Wade!

Bosh was in one of those funks where he disappears far from the basket, seems detached. After Miami lost Game 1 in these Finals a “trade Bosh” storyline bloomed in the media (and surely among some fans).

If Miami’s three stars struggled again Thursday night the Heat would fall behind 3-1, a deficit from which no team has recovered to win a championship. The club-record 66 season wins and sublime 27-game winning streak would have started circling the drain, rendered poor consolation by anything but a repeat title.

Don’t you think Riley and Arison felt those darkest thoughts creeping in?

Then everything changed.

“It was on our shoulders,” LeBron said.

The Big 3 – individually and as a trio – were once again everything Miami dreamed they would be when Miami celebrated their coming together that night three years ago.

LeBron, flexing talent and power, pouring in 33 points with 11 rebounds, was the MVP, simply the best there is.

Wade found his time machine; he was “the ’06 Flash again,” as LeBron put it. He scored 32 and his defense, including six steals, was magnificent.

Bosh, playing a true center because of a smaller lineup, scored 20 with 13 rebounds, once more the All-Star-caliber “Big Third,” just like on the grand blueprint.


Wade’s show might have been the biggest and most redeeming of all. Said LeBron of is mate: “No matter how great you are, no matter what you rèsumè is, to have a game like this let’s you know that you’re still one bad … ” He stopped himself. “You know the next two words. I can’t say them. My kids might be watching.”

Wade couldn’t resist a bit of well-earned chest-thumping after the game. He quickly posted on Instagram of photo of himself dunking in the game. The caption he wrote read: “I was born to make statements, not excuses.”

The Big 3 had averaged 43 points the first three games of the Finals, and had 85 this night – a collective statement. The rising up of all three men was faith restoring, a reminder they have it in them, and an indication they can summon magic when it is absolutely necessary.

Game 4 was the Big 3 finding another gear. It was fourth. It was fifth. It might have been sixth.

Now, even a loss Sunday would still leave Miami two home games to make amends. Didn’t Thursday night convince you that winning those two would be closer to likely than just possible?

The team follows its leaders. The word is resilience.

“With us we’ve always been under that microscope, so it’s always about how you respond,” Bosh said. “Ever since we’ve gotten together, we’ve had to respond to adversity. When things get rough, that’s when we pull together. We just rely on each and other and really pick it up.”

Miami has not lost back-to-back games since early January and is now 6-0 after losses in this postseason, and by an average margin of 17 points.

You push this team and it pushes back. Harder.

You doubt this team, it calls you out as a fool.

You begin to wonder about this team, or its Big 3, and they remind you who they are, and what they are:


Read more Greg Cote stories from the Miami Herald

Phillies fans show their desire to have Pete Rose inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday, July 30, 1995, before the start of the Hall of Fame Inductions in Cooperstown, N.Y.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: It’s time to welcome Pete Rose back to baseball

    Twenty-five years ago this week Pete Rose was banished for life from baseball, and thus from the red carpet ride he would have taken into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Sympathy hasn’t often come his way since, partly because Rose can come off as irascible, unlikable, his own worst enemy — but mostly because he agreed to his ban, with a swipe of a pen trading immortality for indelible notoriety.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton watch from the dugout in the sixth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday, August 15, 2014, at Marlins Park in Miami.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: NL MVP? It’s the Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton by a landslide

    Giancarlo Stanton deserves the NL MVP for carying the Marlins on his shoulders.

In this Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 photograph, Tony Stewart stands in the garage area after a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Watkins Glen International, in Watkins Glen N.Y.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: NASCAR tragedy a result of auto racing culture

    The 65-second video is horrible and hard to watch because you know you are seeing a young man in the last seconds of his life. We all accept that auto racing can be dangerous and that the risk can even be deadly, but not like this. This jars the senses. You can’t believe what you are seeing.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category