LeBron James has been labeled an otherworldly talent during his entire career and with his most recent championship, he has now reached rare air for NBA stars. The King was always pretty dominant, but now he has the rings to help prove his case.
Nowhere is this dominance more apparent than the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. During his entire career to this point, James has never lost a first round series and rarely ever goes past five games during these matchups.
In fact, the last time he lost a single game in the first round was in 2012 with the Miami Heat en route to his first championship. They are a team remembered for their three superstars, but where are they now?
Number One: Shane Battier
Battier was brought to Miami to be a small-ball power forward and possibly play some backup small forward when LeBron was on the bench. He proved to be absolutely crucial as the playoff began and cemented his spot as one of the most important contributors to the championship.
For a second after calling it a career, the Duke product did some broadcasting with the NBA and on the sidelines. Now he is the Director of Basketball Development and Analytics with the Heat as he passes on his statistical knowledge to that department.
Number Two: Mike Miller
Mike Miller was one of LeBron’s favourite teammates during his time in Miami. His explosion during the final game of the season against Oklahoma City will be remembered by fans of the team for a long time as it gave them their first ring of the Big 3 era.
LBJ loved Miller so much that he recruited him to join Cleveland’s roster when he returned in 2014. He was traded after one season and is still contributing to the Denver Nuggets right now. The sharpshooter also does media spots during his offseasons.
Number Three: Juwan Howard
Juwan Howard was a long way from his days tearing up the court as a member of the Michigan ‘Fab 5’ when he joined the Heat. He played a very small role on the court, but he proved essential in the locker room as he helped the coaching staff during all of their Finals runs.
Howard is now a full-time assistant coach within the Miami organisation and one of the lingering faces from the Big 3 era. Coach Erik Spoelstra keeps him around to provide balance and help mentor younger players with his championship experience.
Number Four: Norris Cole
Cole Train was a fan favourite during the previous era of Heat basketball because of his immediate impact on a championship team. He was brought in to help with defence after the team struggled with small guard in the 2011 Finals.
Weirdly enough, Cole is currently on the team that he helped beat in 2012 for the NBA Championship, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Multiple teams have wanted the guard because of his championship pedigree and he’s still out there chasing his NBA dreams.
Number Five: Eddy Curry
Curry was a signal of things to come for the Heat organisation in years to come after their demise in 2011. A yearly reclamation project that would be hand selected by Pat Riley to address their need for a big man to help in the paint.
He was recently a member of the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League and has been playing basketball in various tournaments across the United States. He hasn’t let his career become defined by the tag of unrealised potential.