Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world. Shocking, right? Maybe so if you’ve spent the last four or five years under a rock, when we saw James emerge from a cocoon of potential into league-defying dominance. What goes less noticed in the face of highlight reel plays and the deep postseason runs year after year is just how well LeBron fits the Miami Heat. That he’s the engine behind the squad is obvious — Dwyane Wade is only able to capture the magic about half the time (a reason why he sat out so much of the regular season), and Chris Bosh spends a significant amount of his on-court effort practicing as an understudy in The Invisible Man.
What James does on the floor is as close to genre-defying as you can find in the wide world of sports. He’s listed at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, but he plays much smaller than that — until you see him post up one of his contemporaries, that is. After finally transitioning from the jump-shooting wing he was never really cut out to be (full disclosure: no trite Michael Jordan comparisons forthcoming) into the Larry Bird on steroids(?!) that made the most out of his considerable physical gifts and his acumen for every facet of the game, LeBron finally grew into the dominant force that everyone had pegged him for as early as 2001.
He has tremendous skill combined with an obscene durability. During any given regular season over the past decade, James has yet to miss more than seven games, and that gives LeBron the consensus nod as the best player in the league today; MVP awards that occasionally land in someone else’s lap are just a necessary concession to the multifaceted faces of basketball talent in today’s NBA. But James wouldn’t be nearly as good without the Miami Heat, even and especially when the Heat are so dependent on his gifts to succeed. Here are three reasons why.