End of an era for Heat's Big Three?
LOS ANGELES - The three-peat was not to be.
And now, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all possibly soon to be free agents, the future of the Miami Heat is up in the air.
"For all three of us, the last thing we are thinking about right now is what's going on this summer," James said after the Heat's loss to the San Antonio Spurs in game five of the NBA finals on Sunday.
The All-Star trio lost steam in their fourth consecutive trip to the National Basketball Association's championship round, a run that included back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.
They eventually succumbed to the Spurs -- a decisive four-to-one victory for San Antonio in the best-of-seven series.
"It hasn't been much of a series, not even close. They played like they wanted it more," Bosh said.
The superstar trio -- who came together in Miami in the 2010 off-season -- have options.
They can test the free agent market or they can delay free agency for another year. They can also re-sign with the Heat.
Asked after game five how many more years the Big Three would be together, the 30-year-old Bosh said, "We got plenty of time, hopefully. We are all young men and hopefully we are all healthy."
In the finals, Wade -- the oldest of the three at 32 -- looked like a shadow of the player who dominated the 2006 finals.
He has said he wants to come back, and Bosh has said he was likely to do the same.
The wild card is the 29-year-old James, who says he will get together with his family and his agent before meeting with Heat management to decide his next move.
- Winning titles -
James's time in Miami has been built on earning championship rings.
He is certainly much more mature than he was four years ago when he arrived in south Florida from Cleveland.
He is enjoying being a father of two young boys LeBron Jr and Bryce, who are enrolled in an elementary school near their Coconut Grove home. His wife, Savannah, is moving into the food and beverage business, opening her own juice bar.
James said four months ago he couldn't see himself leaving Miami. But he didn't rule out anything when he spoke to reporters on Sunday.
"I will deal with my summer when I get to that point. Me and my team will sit down and deal with it. I love Miami. My family loves it," he said.
At other times, James has sounded like a player ready to do the hard work to bring more glory to Miami.
"We went to four straight finals in four years. We are not discrediting what we were able to accomplish in these four years. We lost one, we won two, and we lost another," he said.
"You got to come back the next year and be better as an individual, as a team and go from there."
In the history of the NBA, no team has ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the title the 32 times it has been tried.
Miami was done in by their slow starts and inability to get consistent scoring from anyone not named James.
Heading into game five, the Heat hadn't been ahead by more than seven points at any stage of the series. Their fast start Sunday (16-point lead in the first quarter) was quickly erased by San Antonio in an explosive second quarter.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says James was his only player to consistently raise his game to the Spurs' level in the finals.
Too many times in these playoffs, it was LeBron or bust for Miami. The Spurs clobbered the Heat in the final three games, exposing Miami's lack of depth, which management will be forced to address before next season.
"It was pretty much everybody except for LeBron. We just weren't able to get into our normal rhythm," Spoelstra said.
There has been speculation that the Heat might try to fill holes by signing Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
But Bosh seemed to pour cold water on that idea when he said, "It's very, very unlikely." He added that he had not discussed the idea with James and Wade.
Anthony also would have to take a pay cut to join the Heat.
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