LeBron’ѕ former Heаt teаmmаte exрlаins how ѕtаr’ѕ deраrture саused ‘animosity’ аnd ‘tenѕіon’ аround teаm

Former Miami Heat guard Norris Cole got to be a part of both championships during the organization’s Big 3 era, but he also had to experience what it was like when superstar forward LeBron James left the organization, and he recently spoke about that.

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“It was a lot of animosity around when it happened because Pat [Riley] took that personally,” Cole said. “He was upset when Bron left. He was upset. And he’s the leader of the franchise. He’s the president, so everything trickles down. So, it was a lot of tension, a lot of tension. And we still, as players, we loved Bron. He helped us win championships. But Pat, it took Pat a while to get over it. … It wasn’t a good feeling at first when he left.”

Cole explained that James’ departure created a “weird” situation because it forced roles to change on the team.

James spent four seasons with the Heat and helped the franchise reach the NBA Finals each year, with the team getting two championships out of it. The future Hall of Famer decided to leave Miami after the 2013-14 season in order to head home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, significantly altering the complexion of the Eastern Conference.

In the years that followed, the Heat weren’t able to get back to the heights they enjoyed with James, winning just one playoff series until the Jimmy Butler era started in the 2019-20 season.

James, for his part, won a title with the Cavs in 2016 and eventually added another championship to his resume in 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers.


Meanwhile, although the Heat are still trying to win their first championship since 2013, the Butler era has pumped major life into the organization, as Miami has reached the NBA Finals twice in four seasons.

In the current campaign, the Heat are looking to reach the NBA Finals for a third time with Butler, but they’re hoping for a different ending — one that sees them raising a banner in South Florida.

The Heat are currently six games over .500 at 35-29. As things stand now, that’s good enough for a play-in spot but not an outright playoff bid. Miami will have some work to do in order to avoid the play-in, and a win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday would be an impressive place to start.

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