MIAMI Pat Riley once guaranteed his Los Angeles Lakers would win a second straight title. After they did so in 1988, Lakers star Magic Johnson put a towel over his coachs face to make sure he wasnt going to guarantee a third.
As it turned out, the Lakers fell short of getting there. But 25 years later, a Riley team will have another chance.
The Miami Heat, put together by team president Riley, won their second straight crown last Thursday, Now, theyll head into next season seeking a three-peat, a term Riley actually has trademarked.
Guard Dwyane Wade didnt guarantee Monday after the latest victory parade his Heat can reach that goal. But he sure didnt mind putting it out there.
Magic Johnson, hes got five rings and he never won three in a row, Wade said. So that shows how tough it is. But were going to throw our hat in the ring and see with what we come out with. Were going to be back next year hungry again to try to continue to place ourselves in history. Winning back-to-back is special. Winning back-to-back-to-backs would be something out of this world.
Well cross that bridge when we get there. But obviously this summer, once we start focusing back on the game of basketball, thats going to be our goal. How do we come back and muster up enough to keep us focused, to keep us hungry throughout the season to get ourselves back in a position to win another championship?
Considering what Wade went through this postseason, finding motivation shouldnt be a problem for him. Wade played gallantly on a pair of wobbly knees.
Wade had his left knee drained last Wednesday, the day before the Heat faced the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. All he then did was score 23 points and grab 10 rebounds.
Throw in 37 points from Finals MVP LeBron James and the Heat won 95-88 for the teams third title in eight years. Wade and forward Udonis Haslem are the only players who have been around for all of them.
In 2006, Wade dedicated the championship to center Alonzo Mourning and guard Gary Payton, a pair of longtime veterans who won their first rings. Wade last year said the title was for James, who hadnt won one in his previous eight seasons and was wanted by Wade to get the monkey off his back.
So who should be dedicated the 2013 Larry OBrien Trophy?
Im going to take this one myself and be selfish for once, Wade said at a victory rally Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena that followed the teams parade through downtown Miami. This ones for me.
Wade said afterward he had decided awhile ago this one would be for him. But it seemed truly fitting after he had battled through his injuries.
I feel that with those knees, he deserves this one, Haslem said. He can have it.
Wade had discussed his knee problems after Thursdays clincher and did so more Monday. He talked about having an MRI before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana on his right knee, which had been hampered since March by a bone bruise.
Wade said his right knee hurt severely throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs, with the greatest pain being against the Pacers. He said he began to feel better in the Finals, but then in Game 6 he banged his left knee, which had been surgically repaired last summer, into Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. That led to both his knees hurting in Game 7, and the draining needed to be done.
"I understand not a lot of players are in the category of winning three championships, and I wanted to do it for a legacy that Im building now, Wade said of persevering and winning another ring.
Now, Wade will have a chance to get plenty of rest. He doesnt expect he will need surgery during the offseason on either knee.
(The Heat team doctor) told me to take a month off, and thats what Im going to do, Wade said. Im going to take a solid month off and then Im going to get back in the gym and work on my body before I even work on the basketball aspect of my game.
Whenever Wade picks up a ball again, James figures to long have returned to the gym. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about James having said after Game 7 he needs to rest his body.
He wont rest very long, Spoelstra said. Physically, he doesnt have that in his DNA. Probably the biggest thing will be the mental break from the grind. But physically, we all know LeBron, hell be back doing something in the gym within 10 days. He cant get away from it.
James wasnt available Monday to the media, but he is expected to speak Tuesday. He did address fans, though, during the victory rally.
It was an out-of-body experience, James cracked about having lost his headband early in the fourth quarter in Game 6 of the Finals and not putting it back on the rest of the game. Anyone who knows me, especially my teammates, when my headband comes off in a game, I lose all powers. I cant dunk. I cant shoot.
Everybody knows that wasnt the case. James came up huge after losing his headband, leading the Heat to a come-from-beyond win. And Monday his teammates jokingly threw a bunch of headbands at him while on stage.
James, Wade and center Chris Bosh all can opt out of their contracts next summer and become free agents. But Wade let it be known that members of the Big Three figure to get through next season before worrying about what might happen in 2014.
Nothing has been discussed, Wade said. Right now, were just in a middle of this great, historic team and run, Were enjoying it and you dont want to see it come to an end. But you cant think about the future, you got to live in the moment. And when that comes after next season, we have to sit down, we have to talk about our future, what direction theyre going in. Hopefully, were all going in the same direction. But well do what we did in 2010 (before they joined forces in Miami). Well sit down as men, well talk about it, and well go from there.
Stay tuned to see if theyll be talking about it as three-time champions.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson.