Miami Heat fans welcome the three kings
This story appeared in the July 10, 2010 edition of the Miami Herald as Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were introduced at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Miami Heat released Bosh on Tuesday evening.
The dream has been realized for the Miami Heat. The team is now here -- South Florida’s new Big 3, at least.
How long did it take for Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh to get a taste of their newfound expectations after they took the stage Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena?
As long as it took for the crowd of 13,000 fans to chant, “Beat L.A.”
In a ceremony essentially fit for royalty, the Heat’s new trio of basketball stars soaked in an atmosphere that resembled more of a rock concert than an introductory news conference.
Wearing their full Heat uniforms, Wade, James and Bosh ascended the stage in a rising platform amid smoke, flames and fireworks. With Wade standing in the middle, flanked by James and Bosh, the three smiled, danced and pointed to fans.
And then they delivered the message South Florida was waiting to hear.
“We’re going to make the world know -- not just the league -- that the Heat is back, “ James said, wearing his new No. 6 jersey. “It feels right.”
The Heat isn’t scheduled to open training camp for another two months. It’s going to be difficult for the fans -- and these players to wait.
“Let’s get it done, man, “ Bosh said. “Let’s get this done. We’re going to bring world-class basketball here.”
First, their arrivals had to be formalized. The Heat completed sign-and-trade deals with the Toronto Raptors that allowed Bosh to receive a six-year contract. Despite the anger that came out of James’ departure from Cleveland, the Cavaliers also agreed to a sign-and-trade deal to give him the six-year max.
Wade, James and Bosh ceremonially signed their contracts during Friday’s news conference, with each player taking significantly less than the first-year maximum salary of $16.6 million each was eligible to receive.
Miami gave up a combination of future draft picks to Toronto and Cleveland.
The Raptors and Cavaliers also receive salary-cap exemptions equal to the first-year salary Bosh and James will earn with the Heat.
Despite having just five players currently in tow -- and at least eight roster spots to fill -- the Heat has emerged as the odds-on favorite to advance to the NBA Finals. Wade, James and Bosh have yet to play a game together, but the league-wide bulls-eye already is affixed.
No problem, Wade said.
“We know teams are going to be coming at us, “ Wade said. “That’s what we want. We’re all here to bring out the best in each other. And we’re here to win championships.”
The last time Wade had a high-profile sidekick in Miami, he partnered with Shaquille O’Neal to lead the Heat to a title in 2005-06. James and Bosh, however, arrive with a combined 11 All-Star appearances but ring-less. That, in essence, is the reason why they all agreed to come together as a unit.
Now, the Heat already is being placed on a collision course to face the two-time defending champion Lakers in the 2011 NBA Finals. That’s the plan, at least.
The union that Wade, James and Bosh once jokingly dismissed as something that might never happen became a reality Friday night.
“This is a dream come true, “ Wade said, shaking his head in disbelief as he sat next to his two newest teammates. “You always want to put yourself in the best position to win. To team up with the best trio in basketball, it’s just amazing.”