Meanwhile, high atop the Chicago skyline, Bosh was in a conference room receiving a pitch from the Heat — a meeting punctuated by Pat Riley unfurling a small velvet carpet onto the table, followed by the presentation of a small velvet bag. “Oh, yeah, Pat brought his rings out. It looked just like a Crown Royal bag,” Bosh said. “He puts it down, like boom. Big boy talk. When he ended the meeting, Pat gave me a 2006 Heat championship ring.” “Take it. Keep it. Give it back to me when you win one,” Riley said to Bosh. “I still haven’t given it back,” Bosh said. “I wonder if he even remembers that? I think I mentioned it once, like, ‘Yo, do you want that ring back?’ And he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And I kept it moving.”
The Decision was incredibly ill-advised and self-indulgent, but we all knew it was coming. Gilbert’s scathing reaction was somewhat predictable, since he found out LeBron was leaving at the same time as the rest of us. But that rally was so over-the-top. I will never forget the look on Pat Riley’s face when they panned to him in the stands. He looked mortified. Riley told me years later he was so busy making sure all the contracts for LeBron and Chris Bosh were in order that he didn’t pay much attention to what the team had planned. It showed.
Chris Bosh: The moments when I was most inspired by Bron and D weren’t when we were on opposing teams but when we were on the same team—starting during The Olympics in 2008. That summer, Kobe set the tone for all of us, which meant nobody was messing around. And the intensity started on the day of our first practice in Beijing. That morning, I headed down to breakfast early, which made me feel good about myself—because I figured most of my teammates were still sleeping. And I was right. Basically no one else was down there… except for Kobe. Not only was he the first to breakfast, but he also had ice bags on his knees, which meant he’d already worked out.
Chris Bosh: Mind you, this was less than two weeks after the Lakers lost in the Finals to the Celtics. You couldn’t have blamed him for resting up and focusing on being healthy for the next season. But instead, the dude was pushing himself harder than any human being I had ever met— waking up at 4:00 a.m. to hit the gym. That meant all of us were gonna push ourselves, too. With Kobe as an inspiration, D and Bron elevated their games that summer, balling out at practices at a level I’d never seen before. And they, in turn, inspired me. Hell, we all inspired each other. Because we knew that if we didn’t step up, there was no way we’d get playing time. So I started hitting the gym earlier than I ever did before.
Chris Bosh: Every day, I was inspired by Bron and D-Wade to push myself harder and reach higher. Not a practice went by during our four years playing together where they didn’t encourage me to leave everything on the floor; and I’d like to think I did the same for them. So, when Lebron told me he’d reinvented his post game in the first few weeks of the 2012 offseason, I knew I had to step it up. And I did. Quickly, our team’s mantra became “Repeat.” And with new additions to our team, like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, we were confident we would do it, as long as we kept the intensity at level ten.
The next morning, the Heat representatives arrived early to prepare. Riley, Elisburg, coach Erik Spoelstra, Alonzo Mourning, owner Micky Arison and his son, Nick, then a vice president, showed up 45 minutes before James. Riley paced the hallway with nervous energy. The velvet bag with the rings came out again. During the presentation, Mourning shed tears talking about the organization’s support when he needed a kidney transplant and the joy of later winning a title. But two pieces anchored the pitch: the explanation of playing in Florida, where there’s no state income tax (and what that would save in salary and endorsement income), and the plan to unite James, Wade and Bosh.
Storyline: The Decision
But as Wade and Bosh began lining up details, James stopped returning calls — even from Wade. The news of a TV show to announce James’ decision caught Wade and Bosh somewhat by surprise and stirred last-minute anxiety. “Everyone was excited, but LeBron had gone dark. And that made us all worry a little bit,” said David Fizdale, who was an assistant coach with the Heat at the time. “Even Dwyane wasn’t totally sure.”
Storyline: The Decision