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Sunday, April 02, 2023

Bleacher Creatures: The potential end of the Miami Heat’s dynasty

<p>"<a href="" target="_blank">Dwayne Wade, Greg Oden</a>" by <a href="" target="_blank">Keith Allison</a>, used under <a href="" target="_blank">CC BY-SA 2.0</a></p>

"Dwayne Wade, Greg Oden" by Keith Allison, used under CC BY-SA 2.0

In the sports world, certain teams can only win for so long before a changing of the guard takes place. Professional teams like the Chicago Bulls, New York Yankees, Montreal Canadians, and Pittsburgh Steelers all had their eras of dominance before their winning ways left them. 

The Miami Heat may soon be adding themselves to this list. After getting dominated in Miami, the Heat trail the San Antonio Spurs 3-1 in the 2014 NBA Finals. It has been a horrendous Finals’ performance for the Heat as all three of their losses have been by 15+ points.

If the Heat lose this Finals, the Michael Jordan/LeBron James comparison should be put to bed for awhile. James may be playing in his fifth Finals at just 29 years old, but having a 2-3 Finals’ record is nothing to boast about. That statistic alone should end the comparison as Jordan went 6-0 in the Finals and completed two three-peats with the Chicago Bulls in 1991-1993 and 1995-1998.

However, this isn’t about LeBron vs. Jordan.  This is about the Miami Heat’s future. Assuming the Spurs dominate Game 5 and win their fifth championship in franchise history, there will be many questions as to what caused the Heat’s self destruction in the Finals. What happened to the Heat’s defense? Why was the bench virtually a nonfactor in each game? What has happened to Mario Chalmers? Will LeBron stay or leave?

These questions aside, I’m going to be optimistic. The Heat, regardless of victory or defeat, will be coming off of their fourth straight Finals’ appearance since LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade joined forces in 2010. They all have two years left on each of their contracts, but all three can choose to opt out of their contracts if they want to.

Even if these three stars decide to stay, the Heat will have some lingering issues that may stymie their chances of a fifth straight Finals appearance. Here are a few of them:

  • Shane Battier, a decent three-point shooter who contributed to both Miami’s championships, is retiring after this season.
  • Seven Heat players have contracts that expire after this year. A few notable players are Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, and Udonis Haslem. Rumors have been circulating that Allen may also retire after this season.
  • The Eastern Conference should be much better than it was this year with many teams building around young, rising stars. It’s also hard to forget about the Indiana Pacers team whose sole mission in life is to beat the Miami Heat.

If all these factors prove too much for the Heat to overcome, the thought of a team breakup sits in the back of my mind. The Bulls broke up the team because of age and this led to Jordan’s second retirement. The Lakers traded Shaq, which prompted star player Kobe Bryant to ask for a trade because of the team’s inability to win championships. The Celtics broke up their Big 3 after Ray Allen left for Miami via free agency. This was the beginning of the end for the Celtics as they traded both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce the following year.

Could this be the fate that awaits the Heat? If history repeats itself like it usually does, then it just might be.

"Dwayne Wade, Greg Oden" by Keith Allison, used under CC BY-SA 2.0

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