In the aftermath of the “not two, not three…” proclamation by LeBron James that took place shortly after 2010′s Decision, many assumed that the entire Miami Heat franchise—from Micky Arison to Pat Riley to the last man on the bench—felt assured of immediate on-court success. Well, apparently, that assuredness didn’t trickle down to every member of the Heat.
“I didn’t know we’d get to the Finals last year, our first time,” said Udonis Haslem, the morning after a 91-85 Game 3 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I wanted to—that was our goal—[but], you know, it’s not often you see a team come together and get to the Finals their first year. I figured around Year 2 we’d possibly be in the Finals.”
And so, in Year 2 of the Chris Bosh/LeBron James/Dwyane Wade lineup, they are, as Haslem originally expected, in the Finals. But that doesn’t mean it just happened because the players wished it to be so; it’s required hard work and sacrifice. A whole lot of sacrifice.
“It’s not been easy for us to play together,” said Haslem, in regards to the adjustments the three stars and a slew of contributing players have had to make. “We’ve all built so many different habits, playing for so many different teams. You come on this one team, and some of the habits and some of the things that we’ve done that’s made us successful and that’s put us at a certain level in this League, we’ve kind’ve had to put on the backburner as individuals.”
Though he didn’t specify, Haslem, who’s seen his own shot attempts and individual production decline since the 2010 signings, was most likely referring to the three stars having to share the ball and stats—and to the reserves having to share whatever scraps remain on offense, while focusing more on defense, rebounding and filling in wherever and whenever Coach Spoelstra asked.
“It’s kind of hard, but we agreed to make the sacrifice,” said Haslem, who’s appearing in his third NBA Finals. “And the numbers don’t lie—we’re here again, in two years. ”