And now begins the Big Sleep.
For almost two years, LeBron James worked nonstop to push his body and his game to historic levels. It was all worth it. In one year’s time — 365 days, to be exact — James won two NBA championships for the Miami Heat and one Olympic gold medal for the United States. Since the beginning of his quest for the 2012 championship, which began in the summer of 2011, James has rested for all of 2 1/2 weeks.
The Heat won its second consecutive championship Thursday night and since then James, Dwyane Wade and most of their teammates have partied just as hard as they played the last month of the postseason. The intemperance will end Sunday night — or, most likely, early Monday morning — and the team’s victory parade will cap off yet another monumental achievement.
And then the healing begins.
What are James and Wade going to do over the next month? They’ll conduct a few basketball camps, but not much else. Mostly, they’ll just sleep. Get lots of sleep.
“I need to rest my body,” James said. “I do. As much as I love working out and as much as I love getting better, at this point I think the smartest thing to do is to rest my body. Give my body a break. I think that’s the smartest thing.
“I got a wedding coming up with my beautiful fiancée. And it will be an unbelievable wedding now that we’ve won, instead of losing. I might have called it off if we lost. So now it’s going to be one of the best weddings ever.”
Assuming James has hired hands to plan his multimillion-dollar wedding with Savannah Brinson on Sept. 11-13 in San Diego, he’ll get plenty of rest this summer.
As for Wade, his knees have earned a break as well.
“I talked to my knees, Wade said after Thursday’s Game 7 victory. “We had a conversation, and I told them, I said, ‘Listen, both of you guys, y’all can give me one great game, you’ll have a great summer.’ So I’m going to treat my knees very well this summer. And rest them.”
The injury to Wade’s right knee that affected him throughout the postseason will take time to heal. He had his knee drained of fluid the day before Game 7 against the Spurs, according to a report by The Associated Press, but said Thursday that he hopes to avoid surgery this offseason. He had surgery on his left knee last summer.
“He had a deep bone bruise,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That won’t get better unless you take time off. Continuing to play at this level and have collisions and jumps and all that. It just continually got reaggravated.”
But while James and Wade are sleeping away the summer, the Heat’s front office will be busy trying to figure out how to get its payroll to a manageable level because of an onerous luxury tax put in place during the last collective bargaining agreement.
The Heat is already a 2-1 favorite to win the 2014 championship, according to oddsmaker Bovada, but defending another championship most certainly will be more difficult the next time around, as preposterous as that might sound. The Hawks have plenty of cap space, Derrick Rose (knee surgery) returns for the Bulls, Danny Granger (knee surgery) will be back with the Pacers and the Nets and the Knicks are on the upswing. And that’s just the Eastern Conference.