It’s hard to believe that it’s been four whole years since the “Big 3 Era” began for the Miami Heat. It has been a grand experiment in every sense imaginable since Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley convinced Heat owner Mickey Arison to take a big chance and build a potential championship team.

It would be a gamble. Would All-Star caliber players with All-Star sized egos be willing to put personal goals and statistics aside and take less money than they could get elsewhere in order to compete at a very high level for a number of years? Would All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh be happy with lesser roles on a new Heat team? And would Wade and Riley be enough to lure the best basketball player in this generation to the Heat? We found out in LeBron James’ own words that special July night on ESPN:

“In this fall… this is very tough… in this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. I feel like it’s going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships. And I feel like I can compete down there.”

That decision inspired so many Heat Haters and nattering nabobs of negativity. The sad truth is that it’s nothing but bitter jealousy of what the Heat have (three Larry O’Brien trophies) and have done over the past four years (four consecutive Eastern Conference Championships, two NBA Championships – so far). If Dan Gilbert had built a better organization in Cleveland, and even halfway attempted to build a team around his star, then LeBron may have never taken his talents to South Beach. But he did. And as he himself has admitted since, LeBron handled “The Decision” as poorly as it could have been handled.

Get over it.

The publisher of this newspaper is an Ohio native and believes – like so many other fans – that LeBron betrayed his home state fans and the organization that made him an All-Star. Perhaps I would feel the same way if I had lived there. But like so many other Ohioans, our publisher took his talents to South (Sombrero) Beach so that he, too, could become a champion. Sorry about your loss, Ohio.

Four years since “The Decision,” what we have been witness to in South Florida is one of the best organizations in professional sports. Start with a good owner – the Arison family has built not just a championship team but also a great franchise that treats all the staff as a big extended family. Pat Riley. (Need I say more?) And there are the Big 3, Ray Allen, and all the other veteran players on the Heat who sacrifice money, statistics, and minutes to be part of a true championship organization.

It has been an exciting ride for Heat fans, no matter what happens in the rest of this year’s Finals. The Spurs are without question a very good team. The best of the Western Conference and a worthy two-time rival. But if the Spurs’ arena’s air conditioning had been working properly in Game 1, there’s a good chance the Heat would have won both of those first games in San Antonio. And with the Spurs’ big win in game 3, how the Finals play out now is anyone’s guess. (Game 4 will have been played by the time you read this.)

Flashing back again to the 2010 beginnings of the Big 3 era – the naysayers were all predicting doom and gloom, and the haters were out in full force. If someone had said then that the Heat would go to the next four NBA Finals in a row and win at least two of them, who wouldn’t have signed on for the ride? We have witnessed greatness, and it has been big fun.


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