Published November 20, 2014
There's going to be a spotlight on the Miami Heat all season.
And a shadow. A long shadow.
Such is life when three players who are used to having just about every movement tracked decide they all want to be part of the same team. LeBron James has had all eyes on him since he was a high schooler. Dwyane Wade has been the story in Miami for years. Chris Bosh was once the face of Toronto's franchise.
The Heat spotlight, it's theirs to share.
The 17 other players the Heat have in training camp, well, they're getting front-row seats to a three-star circus.
"I'd love to be one of those 'other' guys, as you would say," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said during a break between two Wednesday practices. "They can just do their business and not have to deal with all these microphones. That'd be great, wouldn't it?"
Few, if anyone, on the Heat bus would argue.
"A lot of times, other guys, they just get to show up and go to work and not have to deal with as many distractions because of lot of attention is going to be on these guys," Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. "You're going to be left by yourself a lot of times, which is perfect. You can just do your job. I'm OK with that. More than OK with that."
Ilgauskas might know better than anyone what the Heat will have to endure over the coming months. He was James' teammate in Cleveland for the past seven years, seeing the long-touted phenom arrive fresh out of a nearby high school and develop into what he is now, a two-time reigning NBA MVP.
Then there's guys like Kenny Hasbrouck, a guard who joined the Heat late last season as a developmental player and is merely fighting for a job.
He's never seen this before. Nothing even close.
"It's definitely easier for us," Hasbrouck said, 50 feet away from where Wade was holding court with swarms of reporters standing three-deep around him. "We can focus on basketball, on getting better, on making the team."
At the very moment Wade, James and Bosh came out for that first celebration party at the arena the Heat call home on July 9, the obvious was underscored.
They are going to be the newsmakers, the leaders, the go-to guys.
No other Heat player took the stage that night, and even the names atop the Miami masthead — owner Micky Arison, president Pat Riley, and Spoelstra — merely took seats in the crowd.
"Everybody always mentions me and C.B. and D-Wade," James said. "So, the rest of the guys can fly under the radar and just be great for this team, which we know they can be."
The spotlight issue has multiple prongs, one being how the rest of the team will handle it, another being how Wade, James and Bosh will share it.
On the first front, time will tell.
On the second, the trio — the Heatles, some dubbed them after the new contracts were done — insist it'll be easy.
"No question, it will," Wade said. "I think that we're all going to enjoy that. As much as people think we can't deal with it, this guy getting attention, this guy getting attention, I'm not into that. I'm into a different phase of my life. I'm not 21, 22 no more. I'm 28. I'm going into my 30s. So I understand that, you know what, take some pressure off me. Go ahead. I don't really mind."
This isn't a deal where it's three good players and a bunch of never-heard-ofs in Miami, either.
Yes, Wade, James and Bosh crafted the biggest story in the NBA this summer, and — due respect to five-time champion Kobe Bryant — James might be the league's biggest icon these days.
"The draw to come back here was having the opportunity to do something special," said House, who was with the Heat from 2000 through 2003 before returning this summer. "I think that's what everybody strives for, what everybody wants to do, be a part of something special, do something special, and we definitely have a chance to do that. It was kind of a no-brainer."
There's no 'what-about-us' illusions going on amid the Heat players not named James, Wade or Bosh.
In fact, it sort of goes the other way.
More of a 'leave-them-alone' sense, House said.
"Having to deal with what they have to deal with, I think it probably would bother me a little bit," House said. "But at the same time, they're professionals and they deserve all the attention that they're getting. Nobody's worried if our job is easier because all the attention is over there. Our job is just as hard. We're between the lines, banging."