Commentary: Losing LeBron Puts Heat on Pat Riley

Without King James, are an old Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh stars Miami can build around?

Posted: 07/14/2014 11:14 AM EDT
Pat Riley

Folks in South Beach now know how it feels when a king named “James” decides to abdicate his throne. A public separation hurts, much like a Floyd Mayweather left hook to the face.

The question fans must weigh now is whether Pat Riley and their Miami Heat should look to retool or rebuild from scratch. Neither is as attractive an option as having LeBron James and a championship-caliber NBA team in the arena each night. 

To think of any sort of championship is to dream impossible dreams, because a team can’t win a darn thing if it lacks a player whose talent and sheer will can make that happen.

Without LeBron, who do the Heat have with those traits Chris Bosh?

Bosh, who has decided to re-sign, has never been an all-time great, even during the All-Star seasons he had with the Toronto Raptors.

Calling him a player worth a max contract is to forget how limited his skills are. He was always the third option for the Heat, which means it’s a nightmare you’re dreaming if you can see him carrying a team to the ultimate prize.

Had he been as smart as LeBron, he would have taken his talent elsewhere, too. But what team, besides the Heat, could have given Bosh a contract worth $118 million? The fact Riley did defies logic.

Not that Bosh is an awful player; he isn’t. But if your team hopes to contend for a championship, it must have somebody other than Bosh to fill the arena and take on the role of its headline player, a fact NBA fans learned during LeBron’s four seasons as Bosh’s teammate.

While the third piece of the “Big Three” remains in Miami, Dwyane Wade is as incapable of carrying a team to a championship as Mike Brown was at coaching a team to a championship.

At 32 and going on 52, Wade is in the twilight of his career. His ailing knees forced him to miss 28 games last season.

Wade, who opted out of his contract as well, can’t remake himself into the player he was when he won an NBA title with Shaquille O’Neal. Nobody can ignore the obvious: Time erodes a man’s talent.

In the face of that reality, Bosh stands as the brightest star on the Heat roster, and the word “star” is a generous term to attach to a pedestrian talent like Bosh. A team doesn’t win NBA titles with Bosh as its main man.

Losing LeBron did leave the Heat with money to spend, but Riley misspent a chunk of it on Bosh. He should not make that mistake with Wade. Nor should Riley overpay for another player like Bosh, a man whom Miami fans can hardly describe as a headliner.

But they were spoiled during the king’s reign. Now, they have to watch the Heat accept their spot among the second-tier teams in the Eastern Conference, which has plenty of ’em.

So Heat fans should resign themselves to some painful seasons, because to look for Riley to recapture the magic of the LeBron years is to search for Sasquatch or for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

They won’t find it.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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