Heat 1, Mavericks 0
Game 1: Heat 92, Mavericks 84
Tonight: at Miami, 9, Ch. 28
Sunday: at Dallas, 8, Ch. 28
Tuesday: at Dallas, 9, Ch. 28
June 9: at Dallas, 9, Ch. 28 *
June 12: at Miami, 8, Ch. 28 *
June 14: at Miami, 9, Ch. 28 *
* If necessary
MIAMI — They have been jeered, ridiculed and openly hated because they chased the dream of every elite athlete.
But LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the superstar trio that joined forces last summer on the Heat's roster in hopes of winning it all, aren't all that dissimilar from some great teams of the past.
Magic Johnson teamed with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and a host of others to build a dynasty with the Lakers. Larry Bird was part of, arguably, the game's greatest frontcourt, playing alongside Hall-of-Famers Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
Six-time champion Michael Jordan needed the help of Scottie Pippen, one of the greatest swingmen in history, to revolutionize the game.
"Nobody in history has done it alone," said Bosh, his team leading the Mavericks 1-0 heading into tonight's Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Why, then, has the Heat's collection of stars been booed mercilessly in arenas across the NBA? Much of it stems from "The Decision," the hyped-filled ESPN production during which James announced his move from Cleveland to Miami. But some presumably stems from the perception that none of the three could win consistently on his own and took the easy way out.
For that, the Heat's stars are unapologetic.
"You kind of look at past champions' rosters and you say, 'Man, they were stacked. They had a great team,' " said Bosh, who headed south from Toronto. "And when we got together, we pretty much felt like it was going to work because we think we're great players and we're coming together as a team. We're the best players, we feel, at our positions."
James accepts much of the blame for the scrutiny. His decision to leave his home state of Ohio, where he starred for the Cavaliers for seven seasons, was seen by many as the ultimate betrayal. As for James, he's over it.
"We've got a lot of flack this year mostly because of myself," James said. "And we've tried to use that as motivation every day we get on the basketball court."
Veteran Heat forward Juwan Howard sympathizes with his younger teammate and calls the treatment unfair. He added that despite the perception that James' decision was selfish, his oncourt demeanor is anything but.
"It just so happened he made a business decision to test the free-agent market and he signed elsewhere," Howard said. "When that day comes and everybody moves on, I might drink a glass of champagne to cheer, because I feel bad for the guy. He's a great teammate, a great person and he just wants to win, just like all of us.
"His game is not selfish at all. The numbers don't lie."
Still, some will continue to maintain James and company sold out. Former Heat forward and current ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen acknowledged James faced a difficult situation in Cleveland but said he greatly affected his legacy by leaving.
"He had to be perfect (in Cleveland)," Bowen said. "Every shot that he takes here is not (determining) them winning or losing. Now he has help."
Then, Bowen said, "But Magic went to the Lakers and stayed with the Lakers. That's the difference. (James) has to get more than three championships, I think, for (the decision) to be okay."
NOWITZKI OKAY: Mavs star forward Dirk Nowitzki wore a splint to protect the torn tendon at the tip of his left middle finger and said he will play tonight.