It could be the sun and warm weather, the young and attractive people, or it’s the beaches and crystal clear waters. Whatever it is, GM Pat Riley and the Miami Heat have found the Fountain of Youth.
Much of Miami’s success can be credited to the “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but Riley has been able to do some incredible things with little money and washed up veterans.
Since signing the “Big 3” in 2010, Riley and the Heat have had virtually no financial flexibility. However, that has not prevented the NBA Champions from being prominent in the free agency market. Preying on desperate veterans and using the veteran minimum contract to their advantage, the Heat has rejuvenated some careers that were once thought to be lost.
There are three battle tested veterans that have made a significant impact during the “Big 3” era and have seen their careers make a turn around. Ray Allen was beginning to slip while with the Boston Celtics and could feel the winds of change in the air, so he jumped ship to South Beach. The warm climate did Allen some good, as he was a vital part of the 2013 title team and hit the biggest shot in the history of the Heat.
Mike Miller and Shane Battier have both had highly respectable careers, but both were looking for that elusive ring. Battier has proved to be a terrific defender and solid perimeter shooter coming off the bench for the Heat. Miller has struggled with a bad back and other injuries while with Miami, but has been the X-factor of the playoffs and the back-to-back titles.
The “Big 3” era has not been the only time that Miami has acted as a defibrillator for veterans’ careers. Wade carried a withering Shaquille O’Neal to his fourth championship. Alonzo Mourning and his career thrived in Miami after his kidney transplant. Even Gary “The Glove” Payton earned a ring and rectified his career after the debacle in Los Angeles.
It is no wonder all the senior citizens retire to Florida, there is just something in the water that keeps them alive and well. If you are an NBA veteran, whatever is in the water gives you a few more years on the court and maybe even a big, shiny championship ring.