Miami Heat: LeBron James, Small Forward (2010-14)
Following their exhilarating 2006 title run, the Miami Heat hadn’t been able to recapture anything close to that same magic. They qualified for the playoffs in three out of four seasons, yet won a grand total of just four games.
Dwyane Wade was widely regarded as one of the best players in the NBA, but nobody in league history had proven capable of competing for titles themselves. He needed help, in whatever form it would take.
Around the same time, LeBron James was experiencing his own postseason shortcomings, having failed to get back to NBA Finals after dragging the Cleveland Cavaliers there in 2007. Without a title, his legacy would take a seismic hit, so he, along with Chris Bosh, joined Wade in South Beach to form the league’s newest Big Three.
Having come together in a way never seen before, the pressure was on Miami to deliver immediately. More specifically, having been compared to Michael Jordan for the entirety of his career, failure to get the job done would result in an unfathomable amount of scrutiny for the self-titled King.
Miami started its newest era off slow, terribly in fact, with an NBA Finals collapse at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. James came back the following season hardened by failure, and it would lead to arguably the best all-around basketball of his career and back-to-back championships and NBA Finals MVPs.
With those two titles, the Heat had established themselves as a premier NBA franchise and James’ legacy was validated as one of the all-time greats. Like Shaquille O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers, it was the ideal pairing of two parties who desperately needed the other to get where they ultimately wanted to be.