MIAMI – The consensus in the Miami Heat camp seems to be the goal is to win a third consecutive NBA championship. Players do not want to rest on the laurels of winning back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013 and, instead, are looking to make history with a “three-peat” title in 2014.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra, who recently was signed to a multiyear contract, said another championship is definitely a coveted goal.
Spoelstra, Dwywane Wade and LeBron James spoke at the team’s Media Day press conference Monday at the AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami.
“Everybody is about doing whatever they can do to help the team win,” Spoelstra said.
Wade’s health and James leadership skills, as well as motivation, came into question but Spoelstra said his key players, also including Chris Bosh, will rise to the occasion.
“LeBron is self-motivated,” he said. “This summer was a busy summer for him and yet he always finds time to get his conditioning in.”
James, who married his long-time girlfriend Savannah Binson in early September, said regardless of the prospect of a third championship in a row for Miami, the same challenges exist each year for any contending team.
“My concern is putting our team in a position to win another championship,” he said. “You’re going to have ups and downs, periods of time when teammates don’t like each other, players don’t like the coaches…coaches don’t like the players.”
The Heat have had to overcome health issues in both championship series, involving Bosh and Wade and other players.
James said if the players are healthy, it will not be difficult to defend their crown.“If we’re healthy as a ball club, no matter who you put up against us we can compete with anybody,” he said. “But we have to work at it. We can’t take any shortcuts.”
Spoelstra said that Wade’s bone bruise injury was perceived as his having an unhealthy season last year but it was actually one of his strongest until that point.
Training camp began Tuesday at Paradise Island in the Bahamas, running through Friday. Wade said he has been working steadily for six weeks this summer with trainer Tim Grover.
James said he wasn’t happy with the results of his first year with Miami but he has gotten better and wants to accomplish more.
“I’m a better basketball player than I was last year in every aspect and I feel very comfortable and very confident in my game right now,” he said.
“Every team has gotten better in the Eastern [Conference] from top to bottom, so it will be tougher (this year). And that’s the way you want it.”
Last year’s championship win helped the team learn even more about commitment, Shane Battier said.
“I think we understood the dedication it took to get it back to that level again which is daunting,” he said. “We had a lot of close calls.”
Mario Chalmers said he has been asked many times about the prospects of winning back-to-back championships for a third time and he is looking forward to the challenge.
“The next step in the records book is getting a ‘three-peat,’” he said. “That’s why it never gets old to hear about it. I think we all just have to stay healthy.”
Most of the Heat’s core players are returning this year, except for Mike Miller, whose ammesty provision release landed him with the Memphis Grizzlies.