HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It took a little while, but heading into the fourth year of one of the greatest experiments in NBA history has given Chris Bosh a certain perspective on things.
Temporary stress produced instant overreactions that, in the long run, simply did not matter. The Heat either failed (as they did in their first season together in The Finals against the Dallas Mavericks) or triumphed (as they did in The Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, respectively) on the big stage in each of the past two seasons.
The Heat center understands the bottom line for Miami’s Big 3 remains the same for the 2013-14 season. It was championships or bust from the start and it will be that way to the finish.
If Bosh and fellow Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade cannot find a way to persevere this season and win a third straight Larry O’Brien trophy, the future takes a decidedly different shape than it will if they succeed.
Free agency looms either way and structural changes would surely be a part of the next phase for the Heat if they don’t find their way to the championship parade route come season’s end. That gives this season with the “SuperFriends” an edge it lacked previously, mostly because no one would abandon the master plan that early in the process.
The pressures facing the Heat this season are as daunting as ever, as Bosh told Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel, but much more manageable now than they were years ago:
“I couldn’t believe it,” Bosh said Wednesday, speaking after the filming of a commercial for the Henry Warren Auto Group at Turnberry Isle Country Club. “I was like, `Man it’s been four years already? But we’re professionals. We know it comes with the job. We can’t do anything about it. We just have to make sure we take care of our business, stay together and just really answer the call to adversity when it comes.”
That business consists of completing another championship run. The Heat are attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive titles since the Los Angles Lakers did from 2000-02. Only five teams have accomplished the feat in league history.
For the Heat it’s more about keeping the core of their team in tact. Making history is just an added bonus.
“Everybody wants to know what we’re going to do (after the season),” Bosh said. “Yeah, I get it. Everything depends on this season. If we win, cool. If we lose, that’s when it’s like `What if?’”
Bosh said he is better equipped to handle the attention than the last time he was in the situation. He was a free agent with the Toronto Raptors after 2010 season before joining the Heat. He said the key is keeping focus on the current season.
“You think about it but I’m mature enough to know that if I really start to think about it, I’m going to start playing bad,” Bosh said. “Things aren’t going to go right. I’m just going to enjoy today. I’m looking forward to having a big year this year. That’s all I think about. In Toronto, it kind of messed me up. I was thinking, `What is going to happen [in the offseason]? I started struggling and then I snapped back into basketball.”
The guessing game on the Heat’s future ends with a third straight title.
It would be tough for any executive to pull the plug on a dynasty like that, even someone with the credentials of Hall of Fame Heat boss Pat Riley. The core of James, Bosh and Wade would still be viable for at least the next four of five seasons (with Wade being the only legitimate question mark).
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is going to be among the league’s best for years to come either way. And Miami will remain an enticing spot for free agents, so long as Riley is there to woo them.
The player component obviously hinges on James, first and foremost, making the decision to stick around. The futures for Bosh, Wade and the rest of the Heat’s rotation players depends on James’ choice, as well. This isn’t breaking news in South Florida, where fans have to be a little restless thinking about the future, or anywhere else in the NBA universe.
The fact that Bosh is as clear-headed as he is about this in advance of training camp speaks to the complete understanding of the journey he and his teammates have traveled thus far.