Last Friday, LeBron James decided he was taking his talents back to Cleveland, ending probably the most fun and dominant four year span any Miami sports team will have in my lifetime. Heat fans have obviously been deflated, confused, hurt, but also, kind of surprisingly, overwhelmingly mild. They were also grateful and reverent. SUPER reverent, actually. Twitter was flooded with #ThankYouLeBron and people on Facebook were posting "Thanks for four great years LeBron! Miami will always be your second home." I even saw one tweet that said "Thank you LeBron for winning us two championships I hope you reach 6." Chill, guys. It seemed like a combination of "let's not freak out like Cleveland did," "look at how much perspective I have," and "see, America? We're good fans! How about a pat on the head?"
There has been a lot of national praise for LeBron the past few days. Articles in local newspapers have been about how great these past four years have been, how we were lucky to have him on our home team, and how he "brought us championships." Lucky?
Here's my problem with the coverage: this isn't a one way street. He didn't "bring" Miami championships. He won championships in Miami, with the Heat. The Miami Heat ain't chopped liver, they're about championships. Of course LeBron wanted to come here. Of course he wanted to come to the Heat and to be on Wade's team, because Wade's team is a winner. It was a winner before Wade. Since 1995, Pat Riley’s first year here, the Heat missed the playoffs 3 times in 19 seasons. They're legit. That's our team.
During seven years in Cleveland, LeBron reached the Finals once, but got swept. During those same seven years, the Heat and Dwyane Wade also reached the Finals once, and won. Cleveland reached the playoffs 5 times, Miami 6. The Heat brought back Alonzo Mourning, pulled off a monster, championship-or-bust trade to link up end-of-prime Shaq with kamikaze Dwyane Wade, and added Hall of Famer Gary Payton along with Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, and James Posey. Cleveland went out and got LeBron Larry Hughes, Damon Jones, and Donyell Marshall. The Cavs are weak, man.
Do the Heat win two of the last four Finals without LeBron? Nope. Does he win them without the Heat? Hell no. If Wade, LeBron, and Bosh all teamed up in Cleveland, do they go two for four? Would Shane Battier have gone there for a discount? Does Ray Allen take half the money Boston offered to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers?
You can thank LeBron all you want, it's not unwarranted. These past four years have been hilariously fun.
But if you're going to do that, then you have to thank the Miami Heat, because no other team could've pulled this off. Thank D-Wade, Pat Riley, Zo, Udonis, McAdoo. Those guys are your boys. Those are the guys that brought this city three rings, LeBron James' prime, and playoff appearances in 16 of the last 19 seasons. That's our team, and they're not going anywhere. So, suck it up, Miami.