10 years ago, basketball history changed forever. LeBron James decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and take his talents to South Beach to join Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat.
Needless to say, a team consisting of 3 of the top 5 picks of the 2003 class made the Heat a huge favorite to win it all that season and it didn’t take them long to prove it by making it to the NBA Finals on their very first season together.
However, that heartbreaking loss vs. the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 have put a lot of pressure on their Big 3 entering the upcoming campaign, a pressure that seemed overwhelming when they found themselves on a 3-2 hole vs. the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
And, according to LeBron James, that situation put him on a tough spot because he knew Pat Riley may break the Big 3 up if they didn’t turn the table and win a Championship that season:
“My mentality was if we lose, [Heat president] Pat Riley may break us all up. And I [didn’t] want that. It might be the quickest breakup in basketball history,” James claimed on an Instagram Live, as reported by ESPN.
Thus, the King and the Heat took it on to themselves to prove the world that they were ready to win a Championship by completely humiliating the Celtics in Game 6 and then beating them again in Game 7. It was a kill-or-be-killed situation and James knew he had to be at his peak mentally:
“Win, lose, or draw, I had to be focused. I had to lock in and lead us to victory. Didn’t know if it was going to happen that way, but that was my mindset,” LeBron added.
James was well aware of how another failure would look on his resume and how it would affect his legacy for good. It clearly showed on those final two games, as he scored 45 and 31 to clinch another berth to the Finals:
“Not only might they break it all up, but my legacy is going to take a huge, huge hit if I don’t go out here and perform at an all-time high,” The King concluded.
LeBron and the Heat ended up taking down the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals to win the first Championship of his career and the Big 3 stayed together for another 2 seasons with 2 more trips to the Finals and another ring to their name. It could have gone a whole different way.