South Beach's finest are fresh off a 27-game winning streak, and while Dwyane Wade continues to nurse a sore knee—a sore skeleton, really—visions of securing a second-straight championship, and forming the next extravagant dynasty have not dissipated. They're alive, well and on the cusp of being actualized.
To an extent, the Heat already have completed their title-hoarding formula. Convincing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Wade in Miami was the meat and potatoes of the championship meal. Everything else is just gravy.
Don't take that to mean that good ole' Riles is doing nothing, though. He's hard at work.
Well, sort of (via Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel):
"It's a reversal of what used to happen," said Riley, now the team president. "(Spoelstra) gets up at 5 a.m., now and goes to Dunkin Donuts and I don't. I get up at 11 o'clock and walk into the office with (general manager) Andy (Elisburg) and (CEO) Nick (Arison) and we sit down and we talk about nothing. We're just going to watch this team win."
After visions of Erik Spoelstra sucking down iced lattes and glazed bear claws at five in the morning have traipsed their way out of your head, consider that Riley is serious.
The heavy lifting has been done. He has three perennial All-Stars locked down and basically a fourth in Ray Allen.
What's that? The summer of 2014, you say? Isn't he worried about LeBron, Bosh and perhaps even Wade leaving the sunny streets of Miami?
No, he's not. Riley isn't thinking that far ahead.
He's chartered his sights even farther into the future:
"I want to keep bringing in pieces that are going to complement them and hope we can have one of those 10-year rides," Riley said. "You think about every team, the Celtics in the 60s, the Lakers in the 80s, the Bulls (in the 90s) and then again the Spurs, those guys have been together for eight, nine, 10 years. If we can keep this group together for eight, nine, 10 years, we're all going to have some fun. Don't ever take it for granted. This is a special time."
There you have it. That's the plan. He plans on keeping his Big Three together for the next decade, all the while continuing to bring in others who complement them.
For someone who orchestrated this current squad, Riley's blueprint doesn't seem very convoluted, because it's not. It doesn't have to be.
As long as James, Wade and Bosh are sporting Heat jerseys, there's no need for Riley or anyone involved to overcomplicate matters. Those three are enough to win. As for their supporting cast, the Heat can figure that out later. Free agents will always flock to them at steep discounts. Like Shane Battier and Allen did.
Within every plan, though, there is a flaw. If you're a superteam wannabe (insert Los Angeles Lakers joke here), there might be 50 or more. For the Heat, there is just one.
The most vulnerable aspect of Riley's dynasty-esque aspirations is his belief that he can keep this team together. Some fine research was done by Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated toward the tail end of 2012, and he came to find that entering the 2014-15 campaign, Miami stands to pay $93.3 million in payroll before the "repeater tax" even kicks in, bringing their total to $141.3 million by the end of the year. And that's if the Heat only house 12 players.
Yikes. That's enough green to make James Dolan or the Buss family cringe. Micky Arison might just be found convulsing in the room where Riley likes to do nothing.
Say the Heat throw financial frugality to the wind and opt to retain all three of their prized assets. Is Riley's plan then flawless?
Belaboring about LeBron's connection to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert and all, is of severe annoyance. But it's (slightly) necessary.
This whole prodigal son narrative that's plaguing James' impending free-agent nuptials is (unfortunately) relevant. If whatever rings he has at the time is enough for him, all of Miami will fear his return to Cleveland. Or worse, they'll be left wrought with despair over his debut in Los Angeles.
Either way, LeBron has the ability to leave in 2014. And so do Bosh and Wade. Most of Riley's master plan hinges on the Big Three wanting to remain where they are and the Heat shelling out the cash necessary to make that happen.
Should all go according to plan, however, Riley can forever (or for the next decade) continue to do "nothing," save sit back and watch his team win.
The significance of this Heat roster is lost on no one. They didn't supersede the 1971-72 Lakers aggregate, but they have the best record in the league. Just two full years into the experiment, they have two finals appearances and one title to their credit, and they're seeking both a third (appearance) and second (championship).
That alone is dynasty worthy, or at least enough to spur some discussion. It's also merely a taste of what this team is capable of.
LeBron, the greatest player in the world, is only now peaking, he's got his two buddies along for the ride and a supporting cast that would all start for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Does it get any better than this?
Perhaps, but if it does, it's not by much.
Miami is a walking dynasty contingent, and not too far behind the scenes there is Riley, who has made this all possible. He's the one that allowed James and crew to publicly aspire to eight championships and not look like fools doing so.
"It's the ultimate dream for me," Riley said (via Richardson). "It really is."
And the Heat are the ultimate team, one on the precipice of engineering a decade-long regime.
So long as everyone, LeBron included, follows Riley's suit and continues to do Miami's version of nothing.
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