The NBA Draft has produced a lot of What Ifs. The most popular is: what if the Portland Trail Blazers selected Michael Jordan instead of Sam Bowie? Pat Riley unveiled another what if, this time, concerning the Miami Heat organization. He admitted that they almost picked Chris Bosh instead of Dwyane Wade.
Riley recalled the organization’s situation then. Big man Alonzo Mourning had been their franchise guy, but a kidney illness sidelined him. To fill the void left by the center, Riley and the front office had their eyes on Georgia Tech standout Chris Bosh. Knowing how volatile the draft is, Dwyane Wade of Marquette was also on their shortlist.
“Absolutely. And we were thinking about a big even before Dwyane, because of what happened with Zo [Alonzo Mourning’s kidney illness]. Yes, if Dwyane had gone to Toronto, we would have taken Chris,” Riley said, per the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
As we all know, the Raptors selected Bosh with their pick. The Heat got Wade as the fifth selection. From the looks of it, the Heat were in a win-win situation, whoever they selected. The 2003 NBA Draft class is considered one of the most decorated batches. The Heat would’ve been in a good position if they picked Bosh.
The Big Three
Obviously, we will never know if Bosh would’ve led the Heat to the 2006 NBA Championship. Wade was definitely the most significant part of that campaign. But let’s not forget Shaq, whom the Heat acquired from the Lakers. Pairing two big men has always been a difficult choice, no matter what era.
Bosh believes that he would’ve still had a relatively successful career if he went to South Beach right from the get-go. However, he isn’t sure if he’d lead the Heat to a title in 2006 as Wade did. Also, there’s the big What If regarding the formation of the Big Three comprising him, Wade, and LeBron James.
“In my quest to get drafted, they were recruiting me,” Bosh said. “I still would have had some success, but I don’t know about their 2006 championship. Maybe, maybe not.”
“I think I always would have fit the culture. Maybe in that alternate universe I get catapulted to stardom earlier, because it was different in Toronto. But who knows? Then maybe the [Heat] Big Three doesn’t get formed.”
The formation of the Big Three was one of the catalysts for creating super teams, at least in the modern-day NBA. Other organizations followed suit with hopes of yielding at least a title. The most infamous one is the Golden State Warriors, who, after winning 73 games in a season, were joined by lethal scorer Kevin Durant.
The Heat’s dominance changed the landscape of the league. Given Riley’s confession, there was a slim chance that the league’s evolution would’ve gone in a completely different direction.