Well past midnight early Friday morning, Heat president Pat Riley was drenched in champagne. Dwyane Wade sat alone on the floor outside the locker room, “soaking it in,’’ as he said. The tarp covering the locker-room carpet was indeed soaked. And LeBron James reveled in the interview room, saying his goal was still to be “if not the greatest, one of the greatest to ever play this game.’’ King James is on his way with his second ring, but the Heat’s repeat Thursday night and their wild celebration after the NBA Finals Game 7 win over the Spurs may have been the last pure moment of joy James and Wade will share in South Beach. If the Heat get to this stage next June and attempt a “Miami Thrice,’’ the focus will shift to whether it is the last stand for James, Wade and Chris Bosh. All three have opt-outs in their contracts after next season. A return to Cleveland could be in the cards for James. “Two championships in three years so far, it’s the ultimate,’’ James said. “I don’t want to think about next year, what our possibilities are next year. I got to take full advantage of this one. It’s an unbelievable moment for our team.’’ Miami has already been installed as 2-1 favorites to win the 2014 title by online betting service Bovada. But if the Heat thought this run was tougher than last year’s, they may not have seen anything yet. As one team official said, “Oh yeah, it’s going to be harder.’’ Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls will finally be armed with former MVP Derrick Rose, who has been injured the past two playoffs. The Pacers, who took the Heat to a Game 7, get back All-Star forward Danny Granger to join 7-foot-2 monster Roy Hibbert and an improving Paul George. The Knicks, meanwhile, match up well with Miami after winning 3-of-4 in the regular season. The Knicks will have a fully healthy Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and perhaps Amar’e Stoudemire will be right and ready for the playoffs. If the Heat survive the East for the fourth straight year, it may be the young studs from Oklahoma City, with a healthy Russell Westbrook, to greet them in the finals — not the older Spurs.
Heat face a difficult road to a three-peat - and don't rule out a return to Cleveland
New York Post | Jun 22