The postLeBron Miami Heat are testimony to the power of a

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Sponsored By Connatix Credit: Miami HeraldRemember when LeBron James left Miami to return to Cleveland and the Heat were supposed to collapse into the heaping ball of flame their logo depicts them to be?Yeah, that never happened.The Heat slipped to 37 wins a year ago in an injury-plagued season, then rebounded to 48 victories this season, good for the Southeast Division championship and the No. 3 seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. In fact, there’s a chance the Heat will meet their former teammate in the Eastern Conference Finals later this spring — and that’s with All-Star Chris Bosh in and out of the lineup with health issues.How’d it happen? Culture. “The most important thing for me was to be in the right place to try to win a championship. I didn’t even want to question that. Because it’s a winning culture here,” point guard Goran Dragic told the Miami Herald. “Everybody wants to win, at least the players that are here. You want to put yourself in a good situation that you can develop your game, that you can get better and get the highest prize.”Dragic took less money to sign with Miami after leaving the Phoenix Suns in the summer of 2014. So did Joe Johnson. And Amar’e Stoudemire. And Beno Udrih. And Chris Bosh. Dwayne Wade took less so the Heat could keep Udonis Haslem, who himself took less than what Dallas and Denver offered. Heck, Wade has taken less than market value on every contract he’s signed to remain in Miami throughout his 13-year career. “I wanted to take that sacrifice in order to win,” Stoudemire said.“It’s guys wanting to be a part of the players in the locker-room and just feeling you can be a part of something special,” Wade said. “I think that speaks volumes. It’s a beautiful city to play in. There are not many cities like this. A lot has to do with the organization and the individual players that have been here.“When people hear millions of dollars [sacrificed], they go crazy. Nothing compares to winning. You can make all the money in the world, but if you want to win and you’ve never won, it’s going to mean something to you more than the actual dollar.”Players come and go, that’s part of sports, but culture never changes.last_img read more